We have been asked about Halal slaughter a lot recently, so thought we should write a post about it to clarify what it is, and put to rest the idea that this is a humane way to slaughter an animal and take their life. What is Halal Slaughter? I’ll be using the website www.halalcertification.ie to clearly define Halal slaughter and will quote directly from there to make it clear what Halal slaughter really is. I will also define all the keywords so we can break down the biases and go by the definitions and what they really mean, rather than what we want them to mean.
What Is Slaughter?
Slaughter is defined as ‘the killing of a large number of people or animals in a cruel or violent way.’
The word slaughter originated from the word ‘slay’ which is defined as ‘[to] kill (a person or animal) in a violent way.’
What Is Humane?
Humane is defined as ‘having or showing compassion or benevolence.’
Compassion is defined as ‘sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.’
Benevolence is defined as ‘the quality of being well-meaning; kindness.’
What Is Halal Slaughter?
All Halal slaughter means is that the animals must be slaughtered in a certain manner. Here is the definition that is taken from http://halalcertification.ie/halal/islamic-method-of-slaughtering/
‘Islamic law requires that animals intended for human consumption be slain in a certain manner. Halal slaughter is was one of the more humane methods available to the meat industry and the only method acceptable for Muslim consumers.’
What Does More Humane Mean?
A ‘more humane’ method, doesn’t mean it’s a humane method. As we know from the definitions, we can not humanely kill an animal in a cruel or violent way.
Conditions Of Halal Slaughter
There are many conditions of Halal slaughter that you can read on their website, but here are the four main ones that are taken from the website:
1. The animal must be alive at the time of slaughter.
2. The windpipe (throat), food-tract (oesophagus) and the two jugular veins must be cut.
3. The slaughtering must be done manually not by a machine, as one of the conditions is the intention, which is not found in a machine.
4. The name of Allah must be invoked (mentioned) at the time of slaughtering by saying:
Bismillah Allahu Akbar. (In the Name of Allah; Allah is the Greatest.)
Let’s Talk About Stunning
Here is what the website has to say about stunning:
‘In general, all forms of stunning and unconsciousness of animals are disliked. However, if it is necessary to use these means to calm down or mitigate violence of animals, low voltage shock can be used on the head only for the durations and voltage as per given guidelines. Stunning through a device with a non-penetrating round head, in a way that does not kill the animal before its slaughter, is permitted, provided that certain conditions are adhered to.’
It is ironic that the animals can be viewed as violent but the murderers as humane; don’t you think?
So Is Halal More Humane?
If anything, Halal can be crueller. One of the condiments clearly states that the animal must be ‘alive’ at the time of slaughter. Obviously, you cannot slaughter anyone who is dead already, so I would take the risk and assume that where they say ‘alive’ they actually mean ‘conscious’. Stunning can render animals unconscious, so that they may not be aware of their throats being cut and their blood being drained from their body. However, stunning in any slaughterhouse in any country in the world, is not always successful; Halal or otherwise.
Removing the method of stunning to render the animals unconscious, clearly means that the animals – who we know can feel pain, grief, fear, and other emotions – are well aware of what is happening to them when they are slaughtered. Slicing their throat, food tract, and jugular veins is a cruel and violent act by anyone’s standards, and doing it when they can feel and sense every aspect of it, is no less cruel or violent.
No respect is given to the animals and Halal affords them no extra rights, kindness or compassion. You can see the total disregard for life in the main image above, where someone thought it would be funny to draw a penis on the side of one the cows we saw at a vigil.
A mention of Allah is no consolation to the animals while they feel their life being drained from them in some sacrificial performance. Let’s face it, Halal meat is the product of sacrifice and is killed in the name of Allah. Does it make the process ‘more humane’ because of this? Of course, it doesn’t.
Nothing But An Oxymoron
The idea that we can non-violently violently kill someone is oxymoronic.
The idea that we slay someone in a violent way while showing concern for their suffering is oxymoronic.
The idea that we can cruelly kill someone while being sympathetic and kind is oxymoronic.
In a post like this that is discussing the common quest to seek a humane way to murder someone, we have to talk about euthanasia. Euthanasia by lethal injection is the best way we have found to peacefully put our sick and injured pets to rest when the burden of their suffering is too much. We have to make the decision for them, but this is done because they are old and sick and their suffering is too hard for them to bare. We do this because we love them, not because we like how they taste.
The animals who we choose to eat are not old or sick. They are mear babies and are only beginning lives which can be more than ten or twenty fold the time they allowed to live in captivity. Pigs are killed around six months young, yet they would live for fifteen years if left alone. When dairy cows give birth to males, those males can be executed at just two days old, while naturally, they would live until twenty years. All because they ‘have no value’ to the farmer. If they are chosen to be raised for veal, then they are lucky if they make it to thirty-two weeks.
Using this euthanasia method to kill 60 billion animals a year (not to mention the one trillion sealife who are also killed) is not cost-effective, efficient or achievable in the time the slaughterers have; not to mention the tainting of the flesh that is to be devoured.
No Such Thing As Humane Slaughter
There is no such thing as Humane Slaughter no matter how hard we look. Gassing pigs to death is horrendous, slicing any throat cannot be done kind way, drowning and electrocuting is torturous, grinding up baby chicks alive is shocking, and no matter the method of stunning (be it electricity, bolt gun, hammer, or axe) the result is still a cut throat and blood drained.
To kill 60 billion animals per year for food that we don’t even need to survive and thrive, methods have to be cheap and effective. Efficiency is on the list, but not in the way we might think or want to believe. The methods are only created to save money and speed up the process of killing, not to prevent cruelty or pain.
If you know of a humane way to take the life from an animal who wants to live, then please let me know. But, there is one caveat; we have to use the definitions by what they actually mean, and not by what we want or wish them to.
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