Magazine article New Internationalist

Should Halal and Kosher Methods of Slaughter Be Banned?

Magazine article New Internationalist

Should Halal and Kosher Methods of Slaughter Be Banned?

Article excerpt

Viva! campaigner Tony Wardle and social commentator Mohammed Ansar go head to head.

Tony

For over a decade I have been campaigning to end unstunned religious slaughter [stunning animals before they are killed renders them immobile or unconscious] and over this time, Viva! has filmed different forms of slaughter; they are barbaric and we campaign against them all, urging people to go vegan. But some methods are more barbaric than others and cause extraordinary suffering.

Religious, unstunned slaughter is justified on entirely false claims: that animals are killed with a single cut and are immediately rendered insensible to pain. Scientifically, this is nonsense. Let me describe the fate of a beef cow that we filmed being killed by the Jewish shechita (kosher) method.

The cow was driven into a cage and its head forced up with a chin liftto expose its neck, thicker than my body. How do you sever carotid arteries, jugular veins, trachea, tendons and muscles painlessly in a neck this thick with a single cut? Of course, you can't! The knife was drawn backwards and forwards in a sawing motion - 17 times. At the first cut, the animal slammed his head backwards violently but remained standing, blood pouring from its gaping neck. It inhaled some blood, so it had the added insult of choking while slowly dying. It was still standing after 30 seconds. This case supports two big studies carried out by government advisory body the Farm Animal Welfare Council, which found it took cattle up to 40 seconds to lose consciousness and calves twice as long. They strongly recommended a ban - as the British Veterinary Association (BVA) has just done.

Mohammed

'Whoever is kind to the creatures of God, is kind to himself' - Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)

Each year in Britain, between 850 million and a billion creatures are slaughtered for human consumption. There will always be those who say (views I believe shared by you, Tony, and your organization) that as a matter of good conscience, animals must never be slaughtered for food and that there exists a conspiracy between government and private industry to hide the benefits of going vegan. Although I believe this to be an extreme view, I support your right to hold it.

Others believe that once we accept the consumption of meat for humankind, it then depends on questions of regulation, processes and our morality. Animal husbandry - the manner in which animals are kept, treated and slaughtered - and the effect on our environment is of vital importance. As you will know, our current (non-religious) meat industry has practices which are utterly barbaric; by some estimates, 100 million animals, perhaps more, suffer vile mistreatment, torturous death and improper slaughter.

Others believe that once we accept the consumption of meat for humankind, it then depends on questions of regulation, processes and our morality. Animal husbandry - the manner in which animals are kept, treated and slaughtered - and the effect on our environment is of vital importance. As you will know, our current (non-religious) meat industry has practices which are utterly barbaric; by some estimates, 100 million animals, perhaps more, suffer vile mistreatment, torturous death and improper slaughter.

Tony

Thanks for your answer, but sadly you address none of the points I make. I am aware that original Islamic teachings on animals shame the practices of our present society, and that 1,400 years ago they were extraordinarily compassionate, but some assumptions were scientifically incorrect.

As you know, Muslims and Jews are not supposed to consume blood and one reason for cutting a fully conscious animal is supposedly so that it can expel all the blood from its body. We now know that it expels only 50 per cent, conscious or unconscious; the rest remains in the carcass. If you really want to adhere to your religion's teachings you should join me and avoid all meat. …

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