horse meat canada

Canada is shipping horses to Japan for slaughter and people are furious

Most people are unaware that Canada is shipping wild horses to countries like Japan and South Korea for slaughter, but the situation has infuriated animal rights activists for years.

Canadians may expect our country to export maple syrup, or Ryan Reynolds souvenirs.

Horse meat generally doesn't come to mind.

And yet, Canada is one of the biggest suppliers of horse meat in the world; the industry is worth millions of dollars, thriving on the export of tens of thousands of equines to Asia (and some European countries) each year.

Most of the horses are raised in Alberta, where they will be slaughtered for meat before they're exported; others are shipped live on long-haul flights to Japan, where consumers enjoy the meat as a raw delicacy.

It's the live shipment aspect that the Canadian Horse Defense Coalition (CHDC) is focusing its efforts on.

In 2019, the non-profit organization took the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to federal court over violations of animal welfare regulations on the flights.

The horses were crammed together in a crate without adequate headroom during transport, according to the group.

The CHDC was ultimately unsuccessful in what they called a "David-and-Goliath battle" against the CFIA, although the group filed for an appeal in January.

Recently, animal welfare advocates have renewed their efforts to ensure that horses are treated humanly during the 20+ hour-long flights.

Others are advocating for the exports to be stopped altogether.

"Canada is shipping live young (average age 18 months) draft horses to Japan for slaughter," one person wrote. "This practice is beyond cruel."

"We have a horse meat industry???" another person wrote. "Humans are gross."

The CFIA said in the court filing that the CHDC's lawsuit is based on "cultural norms" and a subjective interpretation of what is (and isn't) an appropriate food animal.

The agency added that the "inevitable reality" is that their role is to determine whether the horses are healthy for export and are being transported safely, which they claim they are.

While most Canadians consider it taboo to eat horse meat, it is sold at some grocery stores and served at restaurants in Canada.

Lead photo by

Hunter Folsom

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