General Question

Lacroix's avatar

Is it legal to eat guinea pigs in the United States? Specifically, Tennessee?

Asked by Lacroix (530points) November 4th, 2009

On Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmer, they seem to be very popular in Peru, and the images looked tasty. I’m always up for trying new things, but it almost looks like I’d have to raise my own. I want to know if it’s legal first, though.

Personally, I don’t think it’s any more odd than eating a rabbit. The argument that lots of people keep guinea pigs as pets doesn’t really matter to me, as people keep pigs as pets, too, but I’m not giving up my bacon.

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59 Answers

trailsillustrated's avatar

yes no one will care.

Samurai's avatar

Depends on how to you kill it.

poisonedantidote's avatar

i would expect you can eat anything you like. i dont see how they could outlaw any particular food unless it has a narcotic in it.

note: this is not legal advice.

Samurai's avatar

@poisonedantidote They outlaw endangered species, I doubt they’ve been doing dope.

poisonedantidote's avatar

@Samurai

ahh, yes good point. i had not thought of that.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Sure, it’s legal. Just like squirrels, possums and rabbits. Besides, guinea pigs are no longer found in the wild anymore. In New York City, people can eat them at Andean culture-based restaurants.

Likeradar's avatar

What about dogs and cats? seriously.

ParaParaYukiko's avatar

Most likely legal, but due to the fact that guinea pigs are generally pets I wouldn’t really advertise. As long as you don’t kill it in a cruel way, it should be fine.

tinyfaery's avatar

Oh, no. Pets ≠ Food.

Darwin's avatar

Yes, you can eat just about anything that isn’t an endangered or protected species, and that you have come by legally. That means no theft or poaching. You can even buy the guinea pig in any pet store. However, I suggest you not tell the clerks what you plan to do.

I have eaten guinea pig in Peru when I visited a cuy farm (cuy being the word for guinea pig). It was rather like eating lobster in that the critters were scurrying around the floor eating from piles of greenery, and you had to pick out the one you wanted to eat. They then grabbed it, broke its neck and cooked it for you.

On the whole, while it was okay, I have found rabbit to be tastier.

Likeradar's avatar

@tinyfaery I completely and totally agree morally, but legally…?

tinyfaery's avatar

I cannot even entertain the thought. <<shudder>>

YARNLADY's avatar

Yes, it is legal. called cuy, cuye, curí, (Guinea pig) were originally domesticated as a food source by the people of the Andes and you can find many recipes on how to cook them.

casheroo's avatar

this question makes me :(

Likeradar's avatar

thirded. I only wondered about cats and dogs based on that stupid/mentally ill girl who said she’d eat her cats if Miley Cyrus didn’t start twittering again, fwiw.

casheroo's avatar

@Likeradar Ah! What a freak. And to answer, I would figure it’s animal abuse..right? I don’t know. We seem to treat certain animals differently than others. But, I suppose if you kill it to eat it, it may be legal. That totally creeps me out and almost makes me want to be a vegetarian.

Darwin's avatar

My problem is that I cannot eat an animal that I know personally.

Supacase's avatar

The image of those little guinea pigs in @Darwin‘s story will haunt my dreams tonight. :(

tinyfaery's avatar

It’s not nice to eat your friends.

Psychedelic_Zebra's avatar

Sure, I see no harm in it. Just kill it humanely. PM me for suggestions, if you like. I’d like to try it, as well as ground hog, which I hear is pretty good as well, and probably pretty closely related to guinea pigs.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Darwin I am a true carnivore/omnivore I will eat baby lambs (ribs) and baby calves (veal) and any meat that I can get

Darwin's avatar

@YARNLADY – I will, too, as long as I haven’t gotten to know them while they were alive. I tried that when I was a starving graduate student, and I ended up having to give the meat away and live on squash and watermelon for the longest time.

Lacroix's avatar

Well, really if you think about it Western people are the bizarre ones. We imported a livestock animal from another culture and decided to make them pets. It would be a bit like us sending chickens over to another country, having them stick collars on the birds and then declare us savages for eating “pets”.

Most every animal can be made a “pet”, I think. But the reason we don’t eat dogs and cats (or I don’t, at least) is because they’re carnivorous, and meat-eating animals seldom taste all that great.

Psychedelic_Zebra's avatar

@Lacroix according to a family legend, cat tastes surprisingly like rabbit, especially when served alongside of it. Of all the animals I know of that are palatable, fox is about the only one that is useless as a meal. ‘Long Pig’ and bear and even wild dog can be prepared well enough to be palatable.—I’ve only had one of those three, however.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I have a guinea pig…this is sick. Is it illegal in TN? Dunno. Is it ethical? NO!

Why not? You’d go to a pet store to buy your dinner? Are you kidding????!!!!

Would you go to the HSUS and adopt your dinner?

Grisaille's avatar

I think it’s somewhat unfair to turn this into an ethical debate. Quite honestly (as @Lacroix said), many people in the United States keep pigs and ducks as house pets. But I’ll be damned if you all don’t love your bacon.

Cows are as domesticated as cats and dogs. And we love our beef.

In fact, I take my first sentence back. Commenting on the morality of eating an animal is one thing – discouraging and being outright rude is another. A bunch of you are being – quite frankly – self-righteous. If you’dve asked “How should I cook this steak?” and responded in the same derogatory crap you have spewed forth, I’d be an asshole.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Grisaille You cannot buy a cow, a duck or a pig unless you have a farm (at least not in my state). ANYONE can walk into a pet store and buy a guinea pig.

Likeradar's avatar

@SpatzieLover Why does where you can buy an animal control if it’s ok to be eaten? I’ve known people with pet squirrels, goats, pigs…

I’m playing devil’s advocate here… I’m a vegetarian.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Likeradar I completely understand the question. A guinea pig in the USA is not found in the wild to be hunted. I do not know how some people decipher the difference between their dinner and their pets to be quite frank.

Grisaille's avatar

@SpatzieLover What difference does that make? It’s illegal in certain parts of the country without a permit, sure, but does that somehow take away from the fact that they are intelligent creatures, and people domesticate and love them as pets?

tinyfaery's avatar

Who is judgmental now? Guess it takes one…

Grisaille's avatar

Just pointin’ out the irony.

Darwin's avatar

@SpatzieLover – How do you prove you have a farm? Here in Texas and back in Florida anyone who wants to can buy a cow or a pig or a horse or a duck or whatever. Depending on what the residential zoning is where you live you might or might not be able to house it where you live. I bought a suckling pig to raise for meat and all I had was a residential lot. However, I had a friend with 200 acres in the next town, so that is where I raised it.

As to determining the difference between pets and dinner, for me it comes down to whether I know the animal personally or not. Unfortunately for my plans, I got to know the pig so I could not eat it. I also know my cats and dogs and so consider them pets, not food. However, I can eat the meat of an animal I have never met, especially if it comes in a square package. I do try to eat only animals who were humanely raised and slaughtered, as opposed to animals trapped ankle deep in feces in feed lots, where they are force-fed corn. However, it is an uneasy compromise.

Likeradar's avatar

@Darwin Would you eat cocker spaniel if you never met it, knew it was humanely killed and sold in a package?

I’m really not sure why this question fascinates me so much.

tinyfaery's avatar

I only chicken and seafood. I have lived with pet chickens, but would never eat my FRIEND. I don’t see the irony. I see people drawing lines at what is and is not acceptable for them.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@tinyfaery I only eat turkeys that I haven’t met and chickens even if I have met them. ;)

Grisaille's avatar

“I see people drawing lines at what is and is not acceptable for them.”

Which is exactly what you are doing, and exactly what I’m pointing out. I’m in full agreement that there is an ethical disconnect if someone is capable of eating an animal they have raised and has grown to love. Perhaps not inherently wrong, but it is quite strange – but that’s a matter of opinion.

However, your very first comment on this page was:

“Oh, no. Pets ≠ Food.”

…which is certainly understandable. But there is a very distinct difference between a pet and livestock and is subjective, which is what I’m trying to point out. Your animal that you’ve raised with love is a personal pet. An animal that you’ve purchased to eat is livestock. The “animal” in question is whatever we care for it to be; chickens, pigs, guinea pigs, dogs, whatever. Just because you view them as pets does not mean that they are not a culturally acceptable food to someone else. That is the irony (or, to be a bit more crass, hypocrisy) – when someone is capable of eating one animal that is raised as a pet in many places in the world yet turn around and call another immoral because they consume an animal they are accustomed to seeing as a pet. The world doesn’t revolve around your social norms.

tinyfaery's avatar

Uh…except it’s American social norms. It’s also illegal to eat horse, but others do. If you find a wild guniea pig, go for it. But in this country they are pets. Like it or not.

Likeradar's avatar

@tinyfaery So you’re saying it’s not just against social norms but actually on the books illegal?

Lacroix's avatar

Actually, there are no longer wild guinea pigs ANYWHERE. They have been bred for thousands of years in South America for food. We just imported them here, thought they were cute, and decided to keep them as pets.

YARNLADY's avatar

In my internet search for “guinea pigs as food” I find no mention of any law against eating them in the U.S. This wikipedia article does make any claims either way.

tinyfaery's avatar

I didn’t say it was illegal. I said it’s illegal to eat horse here, but not in other places.

Likeradar's avatar

@tinyfaery Ah, ok. I didn’t know eating horse was illegal in the US.

Grisaille's avatar

@tinyfaery Can you elaborate, please? I really don’t understand how any of that has much to do with what I just said.

tinyfaery's avatar

Everyone walks their own line. For me that means if it doesn’t cluck or live in water I will not eat it. If people from other places need to eat guinea pigs, so be it. If someone were to go to a pet store to get dinner I would have an opinion, that’s for sure.

Psychedelic_Zebra's avatar

@tinyfaery, Horse meat is only illegal thanks to the animal rights activists that shut down the horse slaughterhouses. The people that own horses no longher have that option to make some of their investment back on animals too old to be of use. Because of these extremist assholes, people with horses that need to put an animal down now have to PAY for a permit to bury the animal on their own property, as well as other fees.

One more case of the goody two-shoes animal rights extremists with no real concept of what owning animals means, and letting their anthropomorphic ideals interfere with the lives of people they don’t even know.

One of my supervisors raises horses, and has done so for over thirty years. She is pissed that she no longer has this outlet for her weak and dying animals.

As for going to the pet store to buy guines pigs to cook, I don’t have a problem with it, and I just may have to do it as soon as I can get to the local pet store. Probably should go before some animal activist with too much time on her hands tries to get a law passed against eating whatever I like, be it guinea pig, regular pig, rabbit or even hamster.

tinyfaery's avatar

Good for you. Feel better about yourself now?

Grisaille's avatar

What’s with the hostility? Jeez.

casheroo's avatar

@Grisaille because you’re a guinea pig killer defender >:-(

Grisaille's avatar

Yeah. As an animal lover, I understand the opposing position very, very well.

But I won’t submit that my position is “wrong”. Incorrect, perhaps. But not wrong.

Lacroix's avatar

Well, this seems to have satisfied my question as to whether or not it’s legal. Thanks, everyone! I’ve just purchased my first pair of guinea pigs, and I look forward to the experience.

Please check back soon on my search for recipes.

Psychedelic_Zebra's avatar

@tinyfaery yeah, I do, how about you?

YARNLADY's avatar

@Lacroix You will only eat the offspring of your first mating pair, right? Otherwise, you will not have a continuing supply. I would suggest several mating pairs, so you can always have a ‘herd’.

Psychedelic_Zebra's avatar

@YARNLADY can you imagine how noisy a herd of guinea pigs would be?

YARNLADY's avatar

I don’t have to imagine it. I found a website that reproduces their sounds and believe me, a few wheeks, rumbles and purrs sound very similar to the sound of bacon frying in the pan, or chicken cooking in the oven. I am not the least bit squeamish about butchering, cooking and eating meat.

Lacroix's avatar

@YARNLADY My plan was to breed this pair, and eat their offspring. When I feel like my breeding pair are getting close to being “over-ripe”, likely I’ll keep one of their litter, eat the original pair, and select a new mate for the little one.

I won’t ever have very much meat, true, but I feel it will be easier to manage a small herd of guinea pigs than a large one. My goal is to try a new food, not neglect/mistreat the animals in the process.

Of course, if I should decide I’m not fond of the meat, or I grow tired of it, I know of several elementary school teachers that would love a new class pet. Failing that, I’d just take care of the little pigs until they lived out their days.

Consumption need not equal cruelty, I think.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Lacroix Good plan, and I agree that eating animals is not cruelty. I have killed, butchered and eaten my food since I was a child.

irwinkris's avatar

i think the parents might get a little stringy after a few rounds of breeding. they may make a good stew though.

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