Ritual Slaughter – Just Cruelty by Another Name
The dietary laws of Islam and Judaism require that animals be “healthy” at the time their throats are cut. When these laws were passed thousands of years ago, they were probably more humane than any other existing alternative. However, the world has changed drastically since then, and today, slaughter is just the final stage of a life filled with misery, pain, and fear for animals raised for their flesh on factory farms. Given all that we now know about animals’ intelligence and emotional complexity, people should be asking themselves not how to kill them but whether we should be killing them at all.
The vast majority of farmed animals – whether they’re destined for halal, kosher, or “conventional” slaughter – are bred and raised in farming systems in which they’re routinely mutilated, females are forcibly impregnated, babies are torn away from mothers, and they’re forced to live in filthy, severely crowded sheds or other confinement systems – all of which contravene the basic principles of compassion and reverence for life shared by most religions.
Many animals killed using ritual slaughter practices are fully conscious when their throats are cut. It isn’t possible to generalise about all religious slaughter, because practices do differ, but one thing’s certain: any fully conscious animal is absolutely and understandably terrified when a chain is shackled to their leg and they’re hoisted into the air upside down. Birds thrash wildly in panic and excruciating pain, since their legs can break or be pulled out of their sockets under their own bodyweight. Research shows that when cattle and sheep are killed without stunning, it can take several unimaginably agonising seconds for them to lose consciousness after their throats are slit. Recent studies have demonstrated that stunned animals bleed out in exactly the same way as non-stunned animals, meaning there’s no need to withhold stunning for the purposes of avoiding the consumption of blood, one of the aims of ritual slaughter.
Many Jews and Muslims who know the truth about modern kosher and halal slaughter are understandably concerned by or opposed to it – and indeed, Orthodox rabbis in countries such as Norway and Sweden have accepted laws requiring stunning. Many animals slaughtered for the Muslim market in the UK are stunned and are certified as halal by some of the many relevant bodies so long as all other aspects of the slaughter are consistent with Islamic law.
An increasing number of Muslims are also ditching meat and advocating for kindness to animals. Similarly, many Jews believe that eating vegan is the new kashrut (dietary law) of our age. In fact, vegan living is growing so fast in Israel that the country has been dubbed the vegan capital of the world.
Slaughter Can Never Be Humane
It’s a simple fact that no form of slaughter – religious or otherwise – can ever be humane. The sheer number of animals required to feed society’s current meat habit makes individual attention to their wants and needs impossible. In conventional abattoirs in the UK, millions of cows, pigs, sheep, and chickens are improperly stunned using captive-bolt guns, electrocution, or gassing every year, meaning that their throats are slit while they’re conscious and terrified. If you eat meat, there’s no way to know whether the animal on your plate was stunned prior to being slaughtered.
What You Can Do
We don’t have the right to use and kill animals for our own purposes. They don’t belong to us, and they value their lives just as much as we do ours. A culture in which eating animals is the norm is a culture that views animals merely as possessions, products, and commodities instead of individuals with feelings, personalities, and families. To show true compassion for sentient beings who are raised and killed for food, there’s only one label that really matters: “vegan”.
Order your free vegan starter kit today and learn how you can make the switch to a more humane diet.