One man’s meat …….


I took this picture some 10 years ago. It was a random moment; I was driving down a lane somewhere near our home….I can’t remember exactly where it was or I would be tempted to return there….when I saw these two horses in a field close to the roadside. They were not distracted from their shared contemplation by the sound of the car’s engine, the opening and closing of the doors, nor by my clumsy antics while I attempted to frame them in the camera’s viewfinder. I left them as I found them but they don’t seem to have left me.

Today, as I scanned through pictures that might be suitable for the Food Photographer of the Year competition, my eyes once again settled on this haunting image. It brought to mind the scandal and debate that surrounded the possibility that horse meat might have found its way into packaged meat products that declared themselves to be 100% anything but horse. The description of “omnivore” is not entirely accurate when applied to the fickle creatures that we of the Western world have become. “Picky” and “omni” are at variance with each other. We, the pickyvores, have a problem with horse meat and, indeed, dog meat. Man’s best friends are subject to the very worst excesses of abuse and mistreatment by their clearly not mutual best friends, but they are safe from being eaten. I think we are less appalled by human cannibalism than the thought of someone eating a dog for Sunday lunch. These prejudices are as deeply and irrationally entrenched in our psyches as are all our other ill considered prejudices. Interestingly, some of the tested products were judged to have no meat content whatsoever. I’m not sure for whom that was a victory.

Maybe it’s a coincidence, but since I took this picture, I seem to have eaten less and less meat. In the original picture there was a fence of several strands of barbed wire, separating the horses from the green shoots behind them which, particularly on this day of Holocaust remembrance, had a grim significance. However, although I veer more and more towards vegetarianism, I feel that there is a strong argument, as voiced by HRH Princess Anne, for a properly controlled market for horse meat that would encourage horse owners to give better care to their animals, in the knowledge that they had a value after death, and in so doing reduce the number of welfare cases. 

Sadly, I shall not be able to use this picture in the competition as one of the conditions of the competition is that each entry must have been taken by the entrant in the last two years.


About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in Digital photography, Dogs, Emotion, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, France, French countryside, Meat, Photography, photography course, Sunday lunch, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to One man’s meat …….

  1. Misky says:

    What an extraordinary photo.

  2. I have to find the courage to try cooking horsemeat so that I can say, yea or nay.

  3. Really gorgeous photograph and very thought provoking story.

  4. Mad Dog says:

    I’d eat them – a good horse steak is better than beef 😉

  5. I would become a vegetarian before eating them! What a remarkable post and your photograph is stunning. Best to you on the Food Photographer of Year competition.

  6. Stunning beautiful picture ! About the horse meat affair… To my mind, the nature of the meat is not a probleme as long as we know what we’re eating. It makes me thing of the story of Swenee Todd !

  7. Vicki says:

    I didn’t do well on a vegetarian diet (or a mainly fish diet), despite my knowledge of nutrition & dietary needs.

    My friend’s husband had to return to eating some lean meat after 2 heart attacks and over 40 years of vegetarianism. While vegetarian, he even developed an allergy to dairy (after eating so much).

    I have an intolerance to most grains and dairy, so depend on meat, fish & nuts more than most people. I also have to take a calcium supplement.

    Everyone is different but I find it hard to even think of eating some of these common pets like dogs, horse and hamsters (or guinea pigs), but I daresay if the need arises I wouldn’t have a choice.

    Good luck with the competition – hope you’ll post your entry.

  8. I think MTM had horse meat when he lived in Japan. It was tough, he said.

    Except for bacon, MTM is veg. I like a good steak on occasion. Otherwise, we are fish and veg people.

    I look forward to seeing what you select for the competition.

    • That’s the same with us here. Jenny doesn’t like the texture of meat and I don’t like the food chain process…we’re also very sentimental. I feel much better for eating vegetables, grains, pasta and fish and rarely feel the urge to eat meat. Occasionally I will eat steak tartare which is about as contrary as one can get:)

  9. Michelle says:

    I’m going to have to remember “pickyvores.” Fabulous pic.

  10. Eha says:

    Absolutely love the photo . . . am ‘bothered’ by the choice presented to carnivores. Emotions tend to prevail. Am certain I had to eat horsemeat way back in my wartorn childhood – it would not particularly bother me now as long as truth was told and choice was provided. But then I have never owned a horse nor ridden one! Personally I would find dog on the menu still difficult ! Too many have been ‘best friends’ – mind over matter!

  11. I’d be interested to see which of your photos you do eventually submit. In the meantime you’ve given us a stunning image with that green grass out of their reach

  12. Hi Roger, love your image and your thoughts.I have a non related question to this post to you as you the master of food photography….. what special lens do you recommend for food photography, as I am Nikon passionate One?

  13. Cara Hobday says:

    Fantastic image Roger, I love the silent contemplation.

  14. catterel says:

    Really lovely photo, very evocative. We eat horse meat in Switzerland, knowing that there are very strict regulations to ensure that the animals are well treated and humanely killed. It is rumoured that some rural communities are still eating cats and dogs, which upsets many who don’t think twice about the poor big fat rabbits squashed into hutches too small for them until they are “ready”. Hypocritical lot, us humans!

  15. Too bad. It really is a great image.

  16. I’ve commented on other blogs saying the difference for me is what do I consider a pet. I couldn’t eat pets and for me a horse is in the pet category. Though my posts don’t reflect it, we don’t eat a ton of meat either. I can stretch a chicken breast between 4 people. But for the meat I do buy it’s important to me that it comes from a cruelty free source. I can never wrap my head round the idea of it ever being ok to be cruel to another living being.
    A stunning photo.

  17. I would rather eat a meat product with horse meat in it, than no meat in it!

  18. A thought provoking photo. I believe the large horse is a “Comtois” which originates from Franche-comté. I love seeing them in the fields around here. I always think they look like they have had their manes died blond.I don’t eat horse meat myself, but a paradoxical advantage of “la viande chevaline” ,is that this beauty was saved by the horse meat industry. With farmers using more and more machines, they were no longer needed to plough the fields etc. If it wasn’t for the horse-meat market, the breed would have disappeared.Thankfully the Comtois is now enjoying a non-meat based renaissance, with many people returning to traditional farming methods, using them to work in the vines or hauling timber in the forest.That said, a lot of people do still enjoy a comtois steak.

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