Why Don’t We Eat Horse?

It was recently discovered that various European beef products contained horsemeat. In response, Shafer ponders global meat-eating habits:

What defies simple cultural explanation is why so many modern French, middle Europeans, Latin American, Chinese or Japanese citizens enjoy nothing better than a nice cut of horsemeat now and again, while a handful of others — those in Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States and English Canada—generally oppose its consumption. It’s not enough to say that we relate to our horses the way we relate to our pets (or “animal companions,” as some like to call them) from the canine and feline families. I doubt that many adults who don’t ride horses enjoy any such emotional attachment to them. Our avoidance seems to be rooted in custom, just outside of cultural or religious explanation, the way our nose-blowing and spitting norms differ from those of the Chinese. Because we don’t generally eat horsemeat, the thought of eating horsemeat repulses us.