Canadians Oppose Inhumane Export of Horses to Japan

May 25, 2021 | AA, ANIMALS, Japan, NEWS

In recent years, more people have become open to trying diets that decrease their consumption of animals and animal-derived products. But since 2014, more than 27,000 horses have been transported in cramped conditions to Japan for meat consumption

It’s not unusual for horses to be loaded up on big planes. But instead of staying on farms, or being trained for races, these horses are sent halfway across the globe simply to be slaughtered.

Japan is one of the countries that eat this animal in the form of thinly sliced sashimi. However, eating horses is not unusual at all. In countries like Switzerland and Kazakhstan, horses are eaten as sausages or steaks.

But in today’s changing diet landscape, billions of people are slowly becoming aware of the plight of animals raised only for consumption – often in inhumane conditions. This story would otherwise still be shrouded in the dark if not for animal advocacy groups.

Horses Shipped in Inhumane Conditions

Approximately 100,000 horses are slaughtered for their meat. It includes horses of any age, condition, and breed. One of the darkest operations of horses being live exported and then slaughtered happens in Canada, since there are no legal horse slaughter plants in the US. 

It is no secret that the horses being slaughtered are not just old or sick. Even healthy and young equines find themselves having the same fate – purchased by a buyer, loaded into a plane, and eaten in Japan. 

There are almost 7,000 draft horses live-shipped out of Calgary to Japan for their meat, and the issue only started to gain traction in 2012 after the Canadian Horse Defense Coalition or CHDC released a statement.

“Footage taken of Alberta horses being shipped live to Japan for slaughter shows that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is violating their own standards set forth in the Health of Animals Regulations. The Regulations prohibit the transportation of all animals under conditions that would expose the animals to undue injury or suffering.”  

The video shows horses forced onto trucks headed to Calgary International Airport with electric prods. These gentle giants that weigh more than 2,000 pounds are loaded and then cramped onto wooden crates with other horses. 

Because of the size and flimsiness of the cages, horses could not stand in their natural position and subjected to stress. Most horses also fall during take-off and landing. There are also horses that become injured or die during the flight. The flight time also exceeds 36 hours, which is the maximum time a horse can be denied water and food.

Japan’s Horse Consumption

When they reach Japan, the horses are transported to a lot where they will be raised until they reach their desired weight. Then, they can be sold for $20,000.   

Horses are rich in iron, which explains why Japan is importing them. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency claims that federal veterinarians inspect the horses if they are suitable for transport. These veterinarians also check accommodations in the aircraft. 

However, Dr. Maureen Harper, a former CFIA veterinarian thinks CFIA is breaking its own regulation, saying that the horses are being stuffed like sardines.

Is it Ethical? 

Horses can be eaten fried, grilled, raw, or boiled. While it’s a popular food in many countries, eating it is still considered taboo. Dr. Melania Joy, a psychologist and author of Why We Eat Pigs, Love Dogs, and Wear Cows said that “it’s the difference between eating someone, not something.” 

“Horses have not traditionally been raised as food animals, and we are committed to exposing the health and safety risks involved in this industry,” CHDC added.

How You Can Help

To help the inhumane trade of horses, you can sign this petition spearheaded by the Vancouver Human Society and the federal Minister of Agriculture that calls for the Canadian government to stop shipping horses inhumanely for slaughter.