16/01/2013 04:58 GMT | Updated 16/01/2013 07:54 GMT

Horse Meat Is Taboo In UK But Remains Popular In France And Mexico And Central Asia

Horse meat is easy to cook, delicious and incredibly nutritious yet eating it is taboo in the British Isles but is still popular in many parts of the world.

The practice is not illegal in the UK, although for cultural reasons it fell out of fashion in the 1930s and most of the tiny amount of horse that is consumed in this country is brought in from the South of France.

Man has eaten horse for millennia, with its proponents saying it is sweet, tender, low in fat and high in protein.

Many balk at eating the flesh of an animal so important and useful to their way of life

But in many parts of the Western world, an aversion to eating companion animals has seen a move away from eating horse.

Man's relationship with horses, working alongside them as well as using them for recreation, has seen them stop being seen as an acceptable ingredient.

Many people feel as strongly about eating horse meat as they would about eating dog, and in Ireland and the USA horses have pet status.

However, in other parts of the world it is a major part of the staple diet.

In France, specialist butchers' shops operated to solely sell horse meat; however, it is now sold in supermarkets too.

Mexico is the largest producer of horse meat - 78,000 tonnes in 2009.

It is also popular in Central Asia, where horse meat has been part of nomadic people's culture for thousands of years.

In Mongolia, beef and mutton have become more popular, though in particularly cold winters many prefer horse meat as it is not kept frozen and traditionally people believe it helps warm them up.

It is also favoured for its relatively low cholesterol levels.