You are what you eat

A short and pithy post. Honestly! Would you believe that from me?

Horse meat in lasagna.

I confess, I couldn’t resist writing about it.

I see four issues here:

1) Hypocrisy.

OK to eat cows, pigs, sheep, but not horses and dogs (British perspective)

2) Cultural.

Some countries eat dogs (Switzerland and Asia), some eat horses (Europe, Canada, Chile), some eat guinea pigs (South America). Some eat cockroaches. Maybe not that many, but some south east asian countries do eat crunchy insects, like locusts. Aboriginals eat witchetty grubs. British and many other countries eat rabbits. What’s the difference?

3) Deception.

Naughty companies pretending they are using cows and have substituted horse meat.

4) Health

But is the real worry that people are eating horses or that they are ingesting bute? (An anti-inflammatory drug often given to horses – and dogs – so watch out if you eat dogs too).

Do I care? No. Smug here on cloudy roughseas.

I don’t eat meat and I don’t buy ready-made meals. So that’s easy.

And what’s the difference between eating horses that may have been taking bute to eating cows that have been eating sheeps’ brains?

Just another boring meat industry scandal that will blow over in a couple of weeks, and then you will all be back to taking your horse beef lasagna out of the freezer and popping it into the microwave.

I’m off to peel some potatoes and make a casserole (organic tempeh and seitan).

Buen provecho. Bon appetit. Enjoy your meal ๐Ÿ™‚

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About roughseasinthemed

I write about my life as an English person living in Spain and Gibraltar, on Roughseas, subjects range from politics and current developments in Gib to book reviews, cooking and getting on with life. My views and thoughts on a variety of topics - depending on my mood of the day - can be found over on Clouds. A few pix are over on Everypic - although it is not a photoblog. And of course my dog had his own blog, but most of you knew that anyway. Pippadogblog etc
This entry was posted in animal rights, animals, food, health, life, news, thoughts, UK, vegan and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to You are what you eat

  1. I’m glad to read this post, very close to what i think.This “horse”scandal consumes me too… Nice to meet you ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. Marian Green says:

    Ick!!! Soooo not hungry anymore.

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  3. mpwilson says:

    I’m from Canada originally (live in the UK now..) and I don’t recall anything about Canadians eating horse. I know some native Indians do eat bison and such (very gamey but makes a nice stew), but have never heard that…

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    • Well, I found it on wiki so could well be wrong! But I did look up countries eating various types of animals. America used to eat horses apparently but decided it wasn’t the done thing, whereas some parts/people of Canada consider it a delicacy. I think it said Toronto off the top of my head, but you can have a quick google and correct me. The one that originally stunned me a while ago was Switzerland eating dogs as I thought that was a real Asian thing.

      I should have mentioned game – venison being the classic one in the UK and quite a snooty meal. My point, is though, what is the difference between eating a cute deer, a lovely horse, a fluffy rabbit, a big dog, a doe-eyed cow?

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  4. I’m finding it hard to worry too much about horse meat, as like you I don’t eat ready meals. Your casserole sounds rather delicious though ๐Ÿ˜€

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    • My nearest concession to a ready made meal is a vegetarian burger because I have never yet successfully made one. But lasagna? No way. I avoid it like the plague when I go out (which I rarely do) because they are always pretty disgusting anyway.

      Unless they start adding horsemeat to vegetarian burgers I am unlikely to be eating horses.

      Anyway, the casserole is about to be dished up, complete with carrots, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, herbs, the usual exciting vegetarian casserole. With the aforementioned potatoes, now mashed.

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  5. I think you about covered it. For me it’s #3 and #4 that are of most concern. Deception–simply no excuse from either the producers or the regulators. Period. Health? At a friend’s insistence I have been looking much more closely into what I eat and the process by which it arrives on my table. What I’ve seen so far is not pretty, to say the least. While I am a meat eater, long ago I trimmed down the portion sizes so that the meat does not dominate. That said, it’s still scary. The industrial model that gives us various meats is horrible no matter what way you look at it. I could go on but won’t. If that were not bad enough I have, unfortunately, discovered that the process by which my fruits and vegetables arrive is generally not much better. Vegetables grown from soil so chemically treated that the soil itself is toxic. Fruits grown, laced with herbicides/pesticides. Sketchy companies and horrible social practices…all in the name of trimming costs. It’s not healthy and it’s not sustainable. Hey–this soap box is fun :>)

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    • Yes, the issues highlighted are different faces of the whole fiasco. Depends where you are coming from. If I ate meat, three and four would annoy me too.

      Somewhere on here, there are various posts about why/when I became vegetarian, and originally eating less meat was purely based on health grounds (too much red meat = bad for you, because it was receiving a fair amount of air play at the time). Even back then, I would have bought organic produce but the nearest I could get was a free range chicken! As I became more interested it didn’t take long to discover what garbage was pumped into animals and what sheer trash they were fed. You really have to have the brain smaller than a pea to consider that there is no knock-on effect in the food chain when it ends up on your plate. The same with fruit and veg.

      Because we don’t eat meat/fish/chicken/ready-made meals, my food budget is pretty low, so I can afford to spend on organic veg, but even they aren’t perfect as some chemicals are allowed ๐Ÿ˜ฆ it’s why I prefer to grow my own when I can.

      Of course, everything is done in the name of money. And consumers don’t help by demanding cheap at all costs.

      Glad you had fun. That’s one of the aims, along with some vaguely intelligent discussion and exchange of ideas and points of view.

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  6. Totty says:

    You know I’m carnivorous; I eat meat three or four days a week, I buy lomo de potro in Consum, or the Belgian butcher down the road, and I am married to a Swiss, so yes, I have eaten dog sausage, but would I buy and cook ready minced meat? No I would not. The stuff they sell in supermarkets is adulterated with soya!!

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    • Yuk! Rather you than me! And that’s my squeamish Britishness coming out, as in – you don’t eat your pets. That’s also why I think part of the issue for many people is hypocritical, as in putting some animals in one ‘not to eat’ category, and others ‘ok to eat’. Only you would complain about beef being full of soya! Although if I was a meat eater, I would too. Hopefully it’s not genetically modified. It’s a bit like sausages containing more bread than meat.

      Oddly enough I was wondering about you and your husband today, thinking I’d not heard sight nor sound of you for a while, and hoping you were both in good health – as good as it gets in our later years I mean.

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      • Totty says:

        All things in moderation is our motto, so although we eat meat, we don’t eat large quantities. Half a kilo of babilla and half a kilo of jamon minced together, divided into 200gm packages and frozen for later use provides us with four meals per package. We eat vast quantities of veg and salad to fill up, so I think we have a pretty healthy diet as neither of us has problems with cholesterol.

        Bossman has plenty of other things keeping the doctors in employment. He has had another fall, this one resulting in his front teeth going through his lip and splitting both lip and teeth and he also skinned his cheek and nose as well as his knees. He bleeds like the proverbial stuck pig because of his anti-stroke meds and I am getting to be a dab hand at applying pressure pads when he loses patches of skin after catching his hand or arm on a hard surface….bloody steroids have a downside, and not just in the food chain; they have now given him another cataract as well as making his skin like wet tissue paper!

        I am happy to report that I am fit and well, just lacking some decent exercise and long walks, but as they are off the programme for various reasons, I have settled for afternoon line dancing classes that coincide nicely with his siesta. Before you get any visions of cowboy boots and hats, I should tell you that so far, there are non in evidence, but that I do find myself muttering “heel, heel, toe, toe, side, together, brush, tap” if I hear a lively tune as I wander around the supermercado…

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        • I am, of course totally immoderate. All or nothing sort of person.

          I’ve no idea if we have cholesterol problems as we don’t visit the doctor. They fill you up with drugs which is just as bad as meat.

          I’m not a fan of steroids, not that I have ever taken them, just don’t like what I have read/heard about them.

          I’m not aware they are a drug of choice for heart probs but I won’t sidetrack into a drug discussion as that always fascinates me and I will be on here for hours. (just been reading about Pradaxa).

          Bad news on the fall though, sorry to hear about that, he must be well fed-up. Still have nurse Totty, life goes on.

          Indeed, you took the words out of my mouth, or out of my fingertips. I did have a vision of you in boots and hat, and hopefully other clothes too.

          We had a friend/client in Newcastle who absolutely loved line dancing. Not sure if there is any here. I like dancing, but it has never really appealed – now salsa on the other hand? Actually line dancing reminds me of aerobics in a way, need to keep an eye on the person in front and move extremely fast so you don’t look like an idiot who has lost the beat.

          I thought we all sang and danced around the supermercado …

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          • Totty says:

            The steroids were not for his heart, but for his back; two collapsed discs in his neck and four in the lumbar region. The alternative is living flat on his back, unable to walk and away with the fairies on morphine, so it is no contest really, I just wish the side effects were not so bloody…

            I did consider the salsa lessons, and gyrating my pelvis at the waiters, but I can’t risk knackering my sciatica prone back as well, or we would be right up the creek.

            Yes, a lot of us do sing and dance our way around the shop floor, but we usually sing an approximation of the words, not heel, heel etc…

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          • Ouch! Not good. Actually one of my colleagues’ husbands was flat on his back and finally had surgery and got better. He was a fair bit younger though. When he finally had the surgery, there was some muttering about he hadn’t been getting the right treatment. But I think as we age, surgery becomes a last resort option. Anyway, as I know stuff all about back aches and pains – apart from sciatica – I will say zilch on that because I can’t add any value.

            Sciatica eh? Is there anyone who hasn’t had sciatica? I think it is a real stress-related pain. And too much sitting in front of a computer. Funny mine went off when I left work …

            Yes, you are correct, we usually manage the words, unless it was of course, diji, dijo, dijiste (or whatever the words were) because I could never manage that one fast enough. Now, Los Lunnis and Buenas Noches, I can manage to perfection.

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  7. EllaDee says:

    Congratulations on the smugness. It’s well deserved. You’ve worked long and hard on your ethics and you deserve reward and accolade. I was very impressed that it marched through the post and held its head up high. If it was me, I’d have said “chew on that you meat eating bastards…” but you’re subtler, cleverer & diligent in research, so produced a far more compelling and informative response.
    Regardless, whether you’re ingesting animal, mineral or vegetable you’re entitled to transparency and integrity of product. However, pre-prepared anything is a risk. One I minimise. Even without horsemeat, the thought of frozen lasagne gives me the horrors, I can’t understand why people would eat it.

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    • Nothing worse than a smug person, but anyone who reads this blog knows my point of view so I might as well be honest. It was only the same with the BSE scandal, (not helped by the fact that I was on secondment to the Ministry of Agriculture when it was being kept under wraps at the time), it’s back to the same old issue that we’ve discussed before – people need to make themselves more aware and become informed consumers.

      It’s not just about my smug pov though is it? and me sitting here laughing saying, haha, it doesn’t affect me for two reasons. There are the wider ramifications about the corporate greed (appropriate word there) involved in food production. Anyone who thinks the food industry gives a hoot about anyone’s health is living in la la land. Big business, the chemical industry, the animal industry and food producers scratch each others backs – at our expense.

      Thanks for your complimentary words, I am loving the flattery. ๐Ÿ™‚

      There is a simple reason why people eat ready-made lasagna. It saves making it. It saves cooking sheets of pasta (and that’s assuming you don’t make your own at which I am a disaster), it saves preparing and cooking veg, it saves making tomato sauce (assuming you don’t whop it in out of a jar), it saves making white sauce, although I have been known to use creme fraiche instead on occasions, but I really prefer the cleaner taste of a white sauce (made, I should boringly add with organic non-genetically modified soya milk!). It also saves on quite a lot of washing up – three pans at least compared with chucking the container in the microwave. And then later chucking it in the bin – more throw-away and wasteful society.

      A ‘good’ lasagna is down to individual taste though. One of the reasons I hate eating a veg lasagna out. I’ve been known to walk out of a posh restaurant here in Gib because that was the only veg offering on the menu. For me, restaurant versions are always too filling, too stodgy, too cheesey, too sickly whereas I want the taste of the veg to sing through with a clean tomato sauce.

      /lasagna rant.

      But it’s like why people buy mashed potatoes and shepherd’s pie and fish pie and grated cheese and grated carrot and and and. The list is endless. Why prepare and cook food when you can be on the internet (!)/watching television/texting/tweeting/going out?

      If people don’t make good food, and I don’t mean gourmet food there, a priority in their life, then they do only have themselves to blame. Although personal responsibility for anything seems to have gone out of the window in today’s banal society.

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      • EllaDee says:

        In light of the last line of your comment reply to me I submit http://www.dailylife.com.au/health-and-fitness/dl-nutrition/toxic-shock-20130213-2ecgq.html. One of the questions it asks, which sums up the entire article if you’re not inclined to read it, is “How much regulation of companies is ok, and how much of our unhealthy lifestyles should be left up to us?”
        I would say all of our unhealthy lifestyles and caveat emptor… except as you point out, consumers aren’t the only things exploited by big business.
        Ok, I understand why people buy frozen lasagne but I still don’t get it ๐Ÿ˜‰

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        • That was an interesting article. About the only line I disagreed with was the one about how difficult it is to negotiate the supermarket aisles while on a diet. Why is it difficult? Huh? Just tell me. And as for the idea of labelling ‘drinking coke is bad for you’ – well yes, it may well be. I mentioned this to Partner and he said ‘We don’t drink one litre of coke a year.’ (We won’t get into the beer or wine but at least it’s not 10 litres a day).

          I think the only regulation I would be going for would be banning processed food. That would put the cat among the pigeons. People would have to learn how to cook fresh food. Shock horror!

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  8. Well, well. I really do not like to read a lot of disagreement on someone’s blog. I think one of your commenters in some way is a bit smug about her own opinion. What is wrong with saying you do not want to eat dogs and any other hoofed animal or feathered bird? Is it smug if you write about the harmful effects of too much sun, nicotine, or porn or any other thing that you view as distasteful?

    Just because you write abut it does not mean that you are trying to convert anyone over to your beliefs. I don’t eat meat for several reasons.Have been a veggie person for quite a number of years.I never ate much of it ayway.I did not like the thought of how animals are butchered, what they are fed, etc.I do realize that our pets eat meat by-products. I almost gag if I am not careful at feeding time. I wish that I could feed my herd the same as I eat but it would take several cooks to get it together.

    All of what we write here will not change. I just see it all as dumb and I do not think that I am smug. I don’t eat packaged food. I make most of what I eat except bread.

    And yes,I think that somewhere in Canada horse meat is eaten. But dogs – in what I consider a civilized part of Europe? That is the nth degree of crudeness. So sorry if I offend more of your readers. I don’t care what you eat. Let your moral fiber be your guide and continue to enjoy your meat filled meals. More power to you – I say.

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    • Oh, I can live with some gentle disagreement. Especially as most of my readers on here don’t share the same points of view as me overall. I wonder why they read but they do.

      I write about the others too – sun, nicotine, porn. Not sure I’ve written much about cigarettes actually, just that I think they are disgusting and don’t want someone else’s second-hand smoke.

      I would be more more than happy if more people were vegetarian, a) avoiding the abuse of animals in the food production industry – let alone killing them b) better for the environment (raising animals takes more acreage of ground that could be used for crops as direct food etc) and c) better for peoples’ health.

      However as you rightly say, I am not trying to convert anyone. Missionary activity isn’t my style. All I do is present some facts, and my opinions. Up to others what they choose to take out of it. In some cases, I do try and explain what is vegetarian/vegan/pescetarian and what isn’t. And what foods are acceptable for (strict) vegetarians/vegans and what aren’t.

      I did like meat and fish and chicken and seafood and everything really. It’s nearly 25 years (approx) since we stopped eating meat, and 23+ since we knocked fish on the head, so to speak. We were lucky in the UK with dog food, as there were plenty of well-balanced vegetarian dog foods around. I know people say dogs need meat but quite honestly my dogs were never ill (touch wood) and lived into their teens. I doubt it did them any harm. Less choice here, but at least the food I buy has no additives etc and seems a reasonable company in terms of the product. I do have a good book on home made veg dog food that I rarely, if ever, use.

      I used to make bread. These days I stick to pizza and foccacia for the main meal. They are easy to knock up when you are out of practice and the daily loaf tends to be a bit harder work. Plus I need to have a proper kitchen area with some granite to knead and roll on.

      My point about ‘me’ being smug, was that I am basically saying ‘If you eat processed food/ready-made lasagna – what on earth do you expect?’ Because good food it certainly isn’t.

      I think the whole what animals you eat and don’t eat is a) cultural and b) an attitude of mind. As I no longer eat any of them I find it all distasteful (sorry, pun not intended).

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    • Totty says:

      I think Rough Seas and I have enough common ground for us to ‘weather’ a difference in eating habits. She knows that I write with my tongue very much in cheek, so I’m not sure if she would consider my post smug or just a gentle dig at her love affair with the soy plant.

      On the subject of eating dogs in the so called civilised country of Switzerland, it is only in the modern post war era that dogs have been kept mainly as pets. Most dogs were working animals, pulling sleds and carts in mountainous areas without roads where the only other way of getting anything from A to B was on a man’s back. The St Bernard was bred to be big for a reason. You may think that the story of Heidi was a fairy tale, but my husband spent many Summer months of his youth living with relatives high in the Alps in very isolated communities where the staple diet was cheese, bread and milk. You didn’t kill your milk cow or goat, the terrain was very unsuited to pigs, if you were lucky you might catch a hare, but if you wanted a source of meat, one that could survive happily on bread, milk and cheese, why not breed dogs for that very purpose? I am not on a mission to change anyone’s eating habits, but to condemn someone more strongly for eating a dog rather than a cow seems hypocritical.

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      • In terms of commonality I think we have been commenting on each others’ blogs for some years now, we both live in Spain, and we both have a somewhat acid sense of humour. And thick skin.

        I should point out that I don’t have a love affair with the soy plant. I never eat soya beans after one disastrous meal many years ago (when I reverted back to meat because the beans were so bad) but I do love tempeh (soy product) and tofu. Plus tamari, miso etc.

        My only love affair is with animals, I don’t think they need to be killed for me to eat. Simple really.

        But, do people still ‘need’ to eat dogs in Switzerland? We aren’t talking 1950s now, we are talking 21st century. I would also ask what’s wrong with cheese, bread and milk? Bit over the top on the dairy produce, but I guess if you can’t get the veg, you have to live on something.

        Same with eating horses. People don’t ‘need’ to eat them, they choose to. And as you say, just as they choose to eat cows, pigs, ducks, sheep blah blah.

        As I said originally, I think there are cultural issues around what people view as acceptable to eat. And I agree that it is hypocritical to say wrong to eat one animal, right to eat another (although in my past I would have said that).

        But for those of us who are vegetarian and choose not to eat animals, it’s quite easy, because we can just say we don’t agree with eating any of them. So at least we can’t be accused of hypocrisy. Just taking the moral high ground.

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  9. bluonthemove says:

    There is a further angle on the horse meat story, the EU is to blame !!!

    Now, I am not anti the EU, this is more an unintended consequence of their actions. In April 2012 they changed food rules to ban the use of Desinewed Meat (DSM) in products such as burgers. I wont go further on this, as it is more than covered by the news paper article I’ve linked to from the Daily Telegraph of 5th April 2012.

    Their headline says it all: “End of cheap burgers and pies as meat removal process banned by Europe”.

    Enter some food supply industry entrepreneurs, on horse back of course.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinknews/9187513/End-of-cheap-burgers-and-pies-as-meat-removal-process-banned-by-Europe.html

    Blu.

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    • I wrote a reply to a comment on my subsequent post about donkey burgers where I indeed blamed the EU, but WP ate it on my own blog! I must remember to re-write it.

      I wasn’t anti-EU – initially. But instead of opening up opportunities and widening freedoms it has just become restrictive and bureaucratic. Off to have a read of your link.

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  10. Vicky says:

    It is odd how we are conditioned to what we eat, for me a lot is psychological in the name.
    I have never eaten horse, dog ๐Ÿ˜ฎ or deer, stopped eating lamb many years ago, don’t like pork, last ate ham and bacon over a year ago, beef was probably the last meat I ate, though if it was called pig or cow, I’d have stopped those years ago too.

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    • That pretty much sums up my feelings too. Don’t want to eat animals any more. But used to. No horse or dog, but plenty of venison = deer. (QV my point on the donkey burger post about status foods).

      Have to say I thought meat was tasty. But I’ve just cooked some seitan pieces to go with pasta and peas and I’m an awful lot happier about eating that. We all make our choices in life. Not eating animals is one of mine.

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