Why there is a law against eating horse meat in California?

In class, we talked about a criminal code that eating horse meat is prohibited in California. California Penal Code Section 598 states that “horsemeat may not be offered for sale for human consumption.” Although I have never, don’t want to, and probably will not eat horsemeat, this law seems quite interesting to me. Because in liberal democracies, people have the freedom to choose and make their own decisions, and the government would not interfere with the matters of food choices. People have the freedom to eat what they want unless the law prohibits them from doing so. Thus I wonder if this counts for meddlesome preferences.

Historically, humans and horses have been connected for a long time. Horses have not only played a vital role in the agricultural societies, but they are man’s best friends. Are horses different from other farm animals? Eating horsemeat is illegal in California, but there aren’t laws against eating chicken, pigs, and cows, etc. Some people tend to think that unlike other farm animals, horses are not raised for the purpose of being slaughtered for human consumption. Also, eating horse has been considered as pagan ritual and celebration. With the rise of Christianization, people have become reluctant to eat horse meat.

Although in some of the other countries, horse meat is eaten on a regular basis, it is banned in California. The debate over whether to eat horse raises moral concerns. Some people argue that it is inhumane and cruel to kill and eat horses. They are pets, friends, and family.

Another reason that Americans do not eat horse because there are many substitutes, such as chicken and beef. Also, there has been an increase in vegetarian practices. People support meat avoidance that leads to a decrease in meat consumption in general.

Eating horse meat is identified as a moral question, which is shaped by religious and health concerns. In addition, in utilitarian economics, economists are likely to look for optimal outcomes. Thus they want to make as many people better off as possible. A good law is written to protect and defend most people’s benefits and concerns. Since the law is only restricting people who selling/eating horse meat in restaurants, I think it is not meddle people’s preferences. It is reasonable.

http://web.stanford.edu/~niederle/Repugnant%20markets.pdf

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2034431/

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