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Saturday, 5 May 2012

A nation of animal lovers?

“Animal-loving” Brits are happy that their government – and, for that matter, the European Government – condones cruel slaughter of animals for human consumption.

Ritual slaughter for Jews and Muslims satisfies no actual need, just a whim. It’s called religion.

A “leading vet” has, according to the BBC, “criticised the ‘unacceptable’ rise in the number of animals killed in ritual slaughter”. I’d have thought the criticism would be of any ritual slaughter, given that the animal’s throat is slit while the creature is alive to witness its own final moments as it exsanguinates into a trough below its dangling body.

The criticism comes from Prof. Bill Reilly, former president of the British Veterinary Association, who said estimates suggested more animals were slaughtered than was necessary.

Than “was necessary”?

Sorry, but I fail to see how the fact that 99 animals were stunned before slitting can improve the experience of the one animal that has to witness its own painful demise.

Give the prof his due: he does say: “In my view, the current situation is not acceptable and, if we cannot eliminate non-stunning, we need to keep it to the minimum.

“This means restricting the use of halal and kosher meat to those communities that require it for their religious beliefs and, where possible, convincing them of the acceptability of the stunned alternatives.”

So at least he sees prestunning as a desired goal – but perhaps he and his colleagues should be shouting louder for ritual slaughter’s abolition.

Why, indeed, isn’t there a much bigger, widespread outcry about this? While some campaigners work assiduously to bring this horror to an end, most Brits are happy to tuck into their hamburgers, sausages and Sunday joints of meat – not to mention the growing range of chicken-based food items available on supermarket shelves – without asking whether the animal was prestunned.

And that calls for labelling of which foods have been killed ritually, which, as far as I am able to tell, stores are not legally bound to provide.

So, failing that, folks, go organic, because organic standards call for minimum welfare during an animal’s lifetime and deathtime. It costs a bit more, so eat less. Which is more important: the right of the animal to die more peacefully and pain-free or your desire to pile your plate with bigger burgers, more sausages and more slices of beef or lamb?

You can rule out pork from ritual slaughter, of course – so maybe go for that instead.

1 comment:

Stuart Hartill said...

To be fair, I've also come across a local example of a large store (Tesco) putting pressure on a government-run abbatoir which has been quietly adopting halal as a cheap option. Local farmers (already well protected by their government friends) kicked off when Tesco weren't buying enough of their meat. Tesco then put the abbatoir through the same health and quality audit they give to all their meat suppliers around the world, and failed it for poor health standards. Reading between the lines I have to think one of their concerns was some dubious halal procedure which surfaced briefly a year or two ago and which even the tiny local Muslim community weren't too sure about. Interestingly, I've also come across examples of opposition to 'foreign' supermarket chains in East Europe, where, on closer examination, 'foreign' is code for 'Jewish' and the churches so keen to protect local shops and farmers and promote 'organic' schemes have -well - a less than spotless record on anti-semitism, especially immediately before and during World War Two.
That's not to dismiss the general argument here, just to say I think secularists also have to be careful to dig a little below the surface of arguments on both (apparent) sides, and to ask if arguments for 'good' practices are also being hijacked by religionists with real agendas which are not so humane.