OPINION: Prejudice hijacks animal cruelty debate

PUBLISHED: 08:00 08 September 2018


A few days ago, comedian Ricky Gervais tweeted “Why is ‘religious’ slaughter allowed in civilised countries?”

I understand he is a vegan, which I fully respect, but to pick out religious slaughter as opposed to any slaughter was ill-considered.

Soon after someone else tweeted “Yes, we will return GB to its honourable place of kindness and decency to all things before the influx of those who practice horrific cruelty”.

As can be seen, the claims of animal cruelty seem to be a cover for opposition towards Muslims and Jews who are obligated to practice slaughter methods as set down by their religion, if they wish to eat meat. And indeed those methods are aimed at preventing animal cruelty.

In non-kosher/halal slaughter animals are pre-stunned by an electric bolt in the head before the animal’s throat is slit. The reason is to prevent any pain from a momentary delay between the throat slitting and the animal losing consciousness. However, there is no evidence that it works reliably. With the pre-stunning, we know the animal is paralysed, but we do not know if it feels pain as it is expressionless.

Furthermore, the reason for the delay with the non-stun technique is that in many animals the veins and arteries are separated, with the carotid artery and jugular vein at the front of the neck and the vertebral artery at the back. However, in every kosher/halal animal, the vertebral artery diverts to the carotid artery and so when the throat is slit correctly, death is painless and instantaneous. One has to question the motives of those who claim that animal welfare drives them when actually it appears to be intolerance to religion.

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