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Home > Our work > Debates and regulation > Response to a Vegan’s attempt to shed light on Halal & Kosher slaughter (...)

Response to a Vegan’s attempt to shed light on Halal & Kosher slaughter - most merciful or barbaric?

  • by Ruksana Shain, WMCO
  • 7 August 2016

Always interesting to see anothers point of view or understanding of Religious slaughter. In response to Emily Moran Barwick from Bite Size Vegan who attempts to shed light on Zabihah (Muslim) & Shechita (Jewish) ( slaughter methods which essentially follow the same principles.

A video footage of zabihah (halal slaughter) is shown of a slaughterer handling a sheep, water is given and the animal is relaxed and after the cut you can hear struggling. However, given the advancement of technology and equipment availability surely as little handling of animals will mean less distress for the animal. Ground breaking work done in the UK by Bristol University ( showing the natural behaviour of sheep and the use of a V-restrainer which allows sheep & lambs to follow each other like they do in a flock showed less distress, better handling and management of animal welfare. Isolation causes incredible stress, agitation and anxiety as it puts them in danger of being targeted by predators (humans in the case of abattoirs). Flocking provides a greater sense of security and comfort for the animal.

The V-shaped Restrainer is the best welfare-friendly restraint system for sheep that is commonly used in most slaughterhouses across Europe and certainly in all slaughterhouses of significance, as well as many large sheep farms here in the UK.

These are good practises currently being used in UK which I’ve seen for myself. Talking from first hand experience.

Calls for Animal welfare, it Beggars Belief! In UK, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) this year carried out a review of the EU WATOK 1099/2009 Regulation and refused to make changes in law even in the light of scientific evidence, that it would ONLY allow single sheep restraint be used which compromises welfare and in my opinion Defra can only allow one to conclude that it has an agenda to curb Kosher and Halal slaughtering for the Jews and the Muslim community through the back doors.

Slaughter and pain associations

No death is pain free however, put in good planned measures to control and minimise distress at the slaughter stage. The reflex actions that follow (kicking, movements) after are due to muscle contraction generally across the whole body. Each muscle is contracting to ‘call’ for more blood/energy as its supply has been cut. The muscle then acidifies as the lactic acid it produces is not taken away by the blood. It continues to contract until it has no more energy or the environment becomes too acidic. This is thus a natural part of the process by which muscle becomes meat. Understanding the physiology of animal is crucial, is the animal alive, NO. Are these movements causing pain? NO as brain-death has already occurred

The slaughter method shown in Bite Size Vegan produced video is NOT ideal which Emily claims it is. Please watch video produced below to dispel slaughter myths.

Video showing all three different slaughter methods for sheep. Non-stun religious slaughter, pre-stunned and post-cut stunning.

The complexities that Emily refers to are down to the differences of practises, handling and equipment used to restrain and slaughter the animal. Something we agree is that the religious slaughter is not robustly controlled and not consistent. Especially where there has been categoric animal welfare failure by abattoir and government enforcement body that are independently on site as these mal-practises are routine then one off.

Putting things into perspective UK Animal Welfare Standards

Sitting in the UK we have one of the best animal welfare standards, handling and slaughter practises that put animal welfare high on the list for religious or traditional halal methods without out the use of pre-stunning. It is important to note that 97% of the total meat consumed in the UK (2014) is from pre-stunning methods. The remaining 3% relating to traditional religious slaughter without stunning barely caters for 5% of the UK’s population that are Jewish or Muslim.

Consumer Power

Consumer power again, asking questions of the supplier to provide better information about rearing, slaughter. Get to know how and where the slaughter takes place.

Far more then meets the eye, better understanding is needed and the political pressures and misinformation makes this whole area complex.

(Pic above is me, I’ve been tracing lamb from farm to fork, see the videos as part of a cooking show)

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