Horse, Sheep, Monkey

I would like to focus on the horse for this entry instead of giving general information about all other animals. I would like to compare two very similar nations with almost identical cultures, shared pasts and ancestries. These two nations are Tatars, currently an autonomous republic in Russian Federation, and Turks, of Republic of Turkey in Asia Minor. These two Turkic nations have been the part of the same empires for decades. They share most of the traditions, both are majority Muslim countries. Both of the cultures, like all turkic nations did and still do, value horses and life on the saddle remarkably. These two nations only split apart almost 300 years ago. Yet their populace shares very different views about eating horses. 

On early 2015, in the Republic of Turkey, Burger King faced a problem. It was using horse meat in addition to beef. Initially, Burger King denied these claims fearing an even stronger backlash from the populace. Just to clarify horse meat wasn't illegal, let alone be dangerous. However, Burger King, if proven to be lying, would be deceiving their customers into thinking that they were eating only beef patties, while they have actually been feeding supposedly inferior horse meat to people. Later Burger King admitted that it was using horse meat in their burgers, but they would stop this practice effective immediately. Yet Pandora's box was opened and there are still memes circulating the web about the "incident"  today. 

Burger King'de at eti!..

In Tataristan however, you would be lucky if you had the chance of eating horse meat. Horses are very expensive to feed and look after. Adding to this the fact that horses are not particularly fat and "meaty" animals compared to cattle, really makes horse meat a hard to get type of meat. You can find horse meat in foods ranging from salami to steaks. And honestly having eaten both a lot of horse meat and beef, there is not really much of a difference. If I had to add, horse meat even had a specific and somewhat richer taste to it, despite being harder I would still eat it.

But why does such similar cultures and people share such sharply different opinions about a food that is honestly not that different from its alternatives? I believe the answer lies in the cultural spheres of influence these countries have been subjected to. Turks have been in the crossroads between middleastern and western influences for the past 600 years. While Tatars have been mostly under Russian influence for the past 400 or so years. I believe this is the tipping point. Some of my class mates have pointed out that most Americans and Europeans steer clear if horse meat. This influence from western cultures changed the Turkish perspective while Tatar's, still heavily under Russian influence remained somewhat unchanged. 

This example just goes to prove how much of our dietary habits are formed by outside influences, domestic or international. Maybe the key to a more sustainable, richer world with more various and diverse tastes is hidden behind our cultural prejudices.


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