Swedish jockey Helena Stahl defends eating her horse after it was put down

Ms Stahl: 'Either I ate her up, or the worms did'

A Swedish amateur jockey has defended her decision to eat her competition horse, which sparked controversy on social media.

Helena Stahl, 24, kept the meat from her horse Iffy Mant after vets advised her to put the animal down due to a severe injury.

Ms Stahl described Iffy as her “very best friend” and decided against cremating or selling the body for ethical reasons, according to Swedish news site The Local.

She said she felt there was no other alternative as the “meat industry is going in the wrong direction”, and it was important to her to consume an animal “that had a good life”.

“I told my mother that if I could not eat meat from an animal that had a good life, I will never eat meat again,” she said.

Iffy was put down in May 2015, but Ms Stahl only revealed her decision in a Facebook post in December.

Ms Stahl, who competes in harness riding, wrote how she had received backlash from people who had called her “disgusting” and “callous”, even from some of her closest friends.

I slutet av oktober fick vi veta vad felet var. En ulkalkning i höger framknä. Rätt rejäl också. Min hårde tuffa tjej...

Posted by Helena Ståhl on Sunday, December 20, 2015

But she defended her decision, saying: “Maybe it sounds terrible… how can I eat one of my very best friends? Either I ate her up, or the worms did.

“Do you not understand that this is about something bigger than just myself? Call me gross. You judge me. I haven’t said that you must do as I, but we all have to do something!” she continued.

The horse provided 154kg of meat, which Ms Stahl froze and cooked for her friends and family over a six-month period.

One Facebook user said Ms Stahl was “weird” for making her decision, and added: “She should have shown respect and gratitude towards everything the poor horse has done for her.”

Another likened eating the horse to eating one’s grandmother.

But many others applauded Ms Stahl’s decision, including other horse owners.

One person commented: “A brave and wise decision! If more people thought like you would avoid many horses disgusting, long, anguished transport to the slaughterhouse [sic].”

Another wrote: “It is our responsibility as owners to also take the heavy decisions. They deserve a dignified end… You know what life it lived, and its personality and soul is not sitting in the meat, I believe.”