A total ban on killing animals without stunning them first might not be far off if religious groups cannot agree a more humane way of slaughter soon, a top British vet has said.
The president-elect of the British Veterinary Association (BVA), John Blackwell, said he wanted to discuss the issue with Jewish and Muslim groups in order to find a compromise that puts more emphasis on the welfare of the animal.


Sheep - Alton, UK, 2012

Sheep - Alton, UK, 2012

“I don’t think an outright ban is a long way off, there is enough of a view that this practice is inhumane and causes suffering at the time of death,” Mr Blackwell said.


Both kosher and halal slaughter practices, at the time when they were first established, probably represented the most compassionate way to slaughter animals through a quick death. Some rabbinic stories affirm the deep compassion for animal suffering inherent in such practices.


Nevertheless, over the centuries technological progress has produced slaughter systems and practices that have further decreased the suffering of the animals, particularly by introducing various forms of stunning before killing the animals.


Of course, both in the case of ritual and common slaughter, we are talking only of operations conducted in total compliance with the rules. Many investigations over the years have shown that the reality in slaughterhouses is often very different. For example, a recent investigation by the HSUS led to the closure of a calf slaughter plant in New Jersey.


The acceptance of some forms of stunning before ritual slaughtering has been discussed for many years, and unfortunately the debate has sometimes been hijacked by anti-Semitic or racist agendas. Nevertheless, from the perspective of God’s love for His creation, some voices have emerged both in the Jewish and Muslim worlds which see the adoption of techniques that spare the animals further suffering as an interpretation, not a negation, of kosher and halal rules.


In this context, it is worth remembering that some synagogues refuse the consumption of meat altogether, because they consider it to be at odds with the original design of God, as expressed in the story of the sixth day of creation that we read in Genesis 1, 29-30: “Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.’” (NIV translation).


You can read the full article about the statement made by the president-elect of the BVA on the Guardian website.