There's nothing like a good rack of cat to round out a meal. Well, unless dog is on the menu. From horse fillets to snake skewers and gerbil stew, pets are fair game for pots and pans around the world. In the United States people may recoil in horror at the thought of eating a creature one would consider a pet. (Sensibly preferring the factory-raised hormone-injected antibiotic-stuffed tail-docked and/or de-beaked artificially inseminated not-pet meat.) But around the world it is a different story. Pets: part of a balanced breakfast. And lunch, and dinner.
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No it is not three blind mice. It is, however, a tasty and popular dish. It's rat. Rats are consumed in most of the world, from France to Korea to Africa and many other places. You might think of rats as either pets or vermin; but you probably didn't think of them as lunch.
Horse can be eaten in nearly every state in America, but most people are deeply offended by it. Though eating horse might seem disgusting, that's actually a rather new view. Historically humans have always eaten horse, along with zebra, ostrich, bison, pig, deer and many other animals. In recent centuries people have begun to view horses more as pets than as food or service animals, but from Canada to France to Japan, horse steaks, burgers and even horse sashimi are very popular.
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That picture may turn your stomach, but what's so wrong with eating dog? Pigs are cleaner and more intelligent; cows take more energy to produce. If it just feels wrong to eat an animal you consider a pet, remember that devout Hindus view beef consumption as appalling for the same reason.
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This popular meme image of George W. Bush eating a kitten may be Photoshopped but cat is a very popular food in many parts of the world, especially Asia. Though, if you Google, you will find that there are many English speaking websites devoted to teaching you how to skin your cat (more than two ways), and recipe recommendations like Beer Roasted Cat. Even "dog people" who dislike cats probably wouldn't take to the idea of dining on cat, but it's a lean protein source for many around the world. Cat meat is so in demand in China, that animal rights activists have decried it as being just as bad as American factory farms.
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Monkey see, monkey chew. Smuggled out of Africa as bushmeat and hunted illegally in Asia, monkey meat consumption is problematic for numerous reasons. Many species are critically endangered and some of the consumption practices are cruel. There is also the issue of disease. Unfortunately it is difficult for authorities to control the consumption of monkeys, and it is legal in many places.
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Snakes may gross you out, or you may think of them as great pets. They are intelligent, calm and usually make nice companions for those who want something more interesting than the usual puppy or kitten for Christmas. However, snake meat is quite delicious so if you can get over your creepy-crawly aversion (or view of them as pets) it's worth a try.
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How about a steaming pot of lizard soup to ward off a winter chill? Dried lizards are said to have health promotion effects and add flavor to broth soups. They're popular in many parts of Asia. Just like alligator, smaller lizards are said to taste like a slightly moist version of chicken.
(Image via Weird Meat)
Turtle soup is popular in many parts of the world, but do you know about turtle jelly? Turtle shell is made into an extremely bitter, harsh tasting gelatin dessert. To handle the taste it must be eaten with honey, cream, fruit and other sweeteners.
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Frog legs are a famous delicacy – sweet, juicy and tender. The legs are said to be sort of like…yes, chicken. Though frogs are not popular pets such as a dog or a cat, the thought of eating one still makes many people squeamish, but the French (and other cultures) have no trouble frying them up for a snack.
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Guinea pigs: those feisty, squeaky, furry little critters no doubt delighted you as a child. Like a rabbit without floppy ears, guinea pigs are considered by many American parents to make great pets. That's nice. In Peru, they're considered great eats.
Gerbils (and Mice and Hamsters)
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What can be eaten will be eaten, if a person is hungry enough. Impoverished Bedouins favor gerbil couscous, and many cultures throughout the world will happily dine on mice, hamsters and other small rodents when other sources of protein are scarce.