I AM sure many readers will have been understandably shocked by revelations about horse meat being found in beefburgers at several national supermarket chains (Echo, Dec 16).

However, it does throw up some other questions including why the thought of eating horses repulses us but as a nation we think nothing of eating cows?

What really is the difference between a horse and a cow? Or a pig, sheep or chicken for that matter?

All are sentient animals that value their lives. Lives that are routinely cut short after no more money can be made from them.

Horses are often slaughtered after their owners grow tired of them or they become too old to perform. With farmed animals it is as soon as they have reached their slaughter weight at just weeks or months old.

In the case of dairy cows, they are sent to the abattoir once their milk yield drops. This is often at just four or five years old, despite having a natural lifespan of 25 years.

Much of the meat in beefburgers for sale in British supermarkets will come from exhausted dairy cows.

Viva! has campaigned for years against the trade in live horses, forced to endure gruelling journeys from Poland to the slaughterhouses of Italy.

However, if the thought of eating horse troubles you, please spare a thought for the 958m other animals killed for the British dinner table last year.

If you care about animals – all animals – then the best way to show that is to simply stop eating them.

For free help in going veggie, contact Viva! on 0117-944-1000 or email info@viva.org.uk Justin Kerswell, Viva! campaigns manager.

I HAVE lived in Bishop Auckland for ages, so I think it’s a great idea that Tesco now uses horse meat in their burgers. All these TV chefs go on about using sustainable local produce, well we’ve got any amount of horses roaming free around Bishop. We just need a volunteer to steer them all to Tesco’s back door.

Cheap meat for all and I don’t have worry about hoof prints on my garden. Result.

Mick Rhodes, Bishop Auckland.