The subject of ritual slaughter and other slaughter methods is upon us and puts particular emphasis on the fact that Jews and Muslims are not averse to vegetarian diets.
This would reduce much of the present deadlock in relations over ritual slaughter. It would also at the same time throw emphasis on the lack of suitable persuasion of other consumers towards uptake of new alternatives to meat and dairy products. It would mean the issue could be put to rest with a little bit of accommodation from all sides.
It would rise to the challenge in all methods of ritual slaughter, for instance, slaughter without stunning, and for all species, including herbivores and others such as fish and poultry. The method of slaughter might be by a blow on the head or electrocution – all these methods should be abolished.
This would apply to all official meals served in Britain, for example, royal and official occasions and entertainment of officials and celebrities. We must show the world that we are in earnest about these matters.
Therefore I was very disappointed when an article on ritual slaughter appeared in the Veterinary Record with no mention of this possibility.
This would obviate a large amount of accommodation particularly to Jewish methods and would avoid disputes amongst Jews themselves – the rabbinates and priests who incite them to sacerdotalism when many Jews, when confronted with the consequences of Shechita, become vegetarians peacefully and contentedly.
Also many people are coming over to vegetarianism with many attendant health and environmental advantages as well as animal welfare obviously – and taking advantage of the fact they exist for them as well.
We will be glad to help in any way we can and we already publish recipes that are suitable for Jews, Muslims and others as well; and that are nutritionally assessed for their beneficial effects.
I would also suggest that you took the opportunity to contact a neurobiology scientist who gave up eating beef as a result of the BSE problem and has maintained this abstention. I would pass on his name if I were required and could get further indications from him that he would speak on this subject.
I would also like to offer a name for a Muslim authority on the subject and probably several Jewish authorities are disturbed by the muddle.
There are various other customs that have to be considered and will be dealt with by my suggestions, for instance, not having meat and milk in the same meal.
The subject of ritual slaughter has worried people for 60 years or more since the government lifted restrictions on slaughterhouses in the deregulations following the war. During the war, restrictions on Shechita had been lifted following intervention of the Chief Rabbi at the time. The 1950 deregulation was generally regarded as premature because it anticipated many of the bad practices that went on and are now dealt with by the Farm Animal Welfare Committee – and its predecessor, the Farm Animal Welfare Council.
So we’ve had a run of animal welfare statements that have condemned ritual slaughter but without bestirring a complacent government. Now it seems that its obsolescence is obvious and its use now is in giving much closer look at plant milks as the country tends to rely on meat (and some fish) eating rather than plant foods and other commodities.
It would also be helpful if famous names in the entertainment world would discuss how they coped with the situation. It’s doubtful if many Jews follow all the restrictions imposed by the Rabbis.
Many business men would maybe in their work have use of the usual diet but at home they would keep a kosher or halal diet. We doubt that many in the arts, sciences and entertainments businesses follow all the interpretations that the Rabbis and Imams would wish them to practice. But then we have to commit ourselves to various interpretations of a Muslim diet - and interpretations among Jews too.
One has to consider attentions towards genetically modified foods and cloned animals – and also that Jews are often at odds over, for example, circumcision of baby boys. Muslims can have views on some of these issues and are mostly given to religious interpretations, but do complicate the issue if the alternative v*g*n diet is expressed.
As for Muslim diets, they admit that changes are needed. At present Jews don’t accept Halal but Muslims will accept meat killed under Shechita. Unfortunately, the issue occurs in a lot of mixed communities, in schools and in institutional and corporate catering, including international and interdenominational meetings – and they will not be too restrictive on mixed and made-up foods, for instance, soups and meat dishes – so one would hope to avoid arguments over the communal catering.
Much of the Muslim killing is done, we are told, illicitly and this makes it difficult to make regulations. We are also interested in the importation of foods that infringe our suggestions, for example, importations that would need special attention. Our suggestions would abandon all this strife.
The ill-use of animals for food production particularly, adds to other cruel misinterpretations, for instance, the welfare of animals in unsuitable environments, where the RSPCA can be excused some problems concerning this as they have to take care of populations of animals in situations which they would not normally prefer – such as pets and exotic breeds that are dumped on the RSPCA – they are exhausted in coping with that and need support from other organisations on the question of slaughter.
This is where the veterinary authorities should take a much closer interest in their own shortcomings in order to still the criticisms. They lose valuable authority in this matter. For instance, they could support the views that were put forward more forcefully and in particular and in particular, they should pay attention to the normal methods of slaughter.
Once upon a time (about 1935), they were called, hopefully, humane slaughter. For over 70 years since then, we have dropped the word humane because obviously it hasn’t yet been found – and for this delay, much of the veterinary authorities are responsible.
The cow has become an animal suffering from problems in meeting the considerations from turning the animal into a production machine that is the national contribution. No ordinary manufacturers would recognise such faults in their own machinery.
So even if the cow’s situation is turned into nothing but machinery, the shortcomings and waste become even more exaggerated. The national authorities for animal welfare have got a lot to explain away for their complacency.
We would hope that our considerations will persuade people in many other groups, for example, those interested in environmental and wildlife decisions. Their translations into lack of waste and brutality would be widely acceptable and would be scientifically valid.
Dr Alan Long
We are a secular organisation and I am agnostic myself. Our organisation is not religious in any respect.