I haven't come across many languages that distinguish between the animal and the meat like English does. I see it as a kind of unwillingness do deal with the gory truth. I was wrong yes but this doesn't violate the forum guidelines so I hope you contract a V.D., downvoter. Now it does.
Nope, it stems from the reality of history. When the Normans conquered England they alone were up high enough in the literal food chain to consume meat more than maybe once in a blue moon. But they of course didn't tend to the animals. So what reached the plate was the Anglo-Norman word and the animal itself stayed the Anglo-Saxon word.
Actually, it is feoil, and they're compound words. Originally they were spelt muicfheoil and mairtfheoil. But, when they reformed the spelling for English speakers, they removed those things that showed how they're related (as well as several other things that disambiguated the language, such as the difference between léim 'I read' and léim 'Jump')
QUOTE: "when they reformed the spelling for English speakers"
That's a very exaggerated comment, galaxyrocker. Danish, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Latvian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish have all undergone a greater or lesser degree of spelling-reform during the course of the last 200 years. In none of these cases were the reforms introduced for the benefit of English-speakers -- and no more were the changes to Irish orthography made for that reason.