Evolution has made us the top predator and as human beings, living in a food rich civilisation, we have the great privilege of choosing what we eat and what we leave on the supermarket shelves.
Personally, i leave meat on the shelf and have since i was a teenager although i am not a militant vegetarian, if you choose to eat meat than that doesn't concern me, or rather it does but i'm not your conscience.
Whether you would feel the same if you ever made a trip to a slaughterhouse and watched the first act in the journey that leads a 10 week old lamb from the field to your plate is debatable, at the very least it should make you think the next time you are served a chop.
Over 40 million cattle, calves, sheep, pigs and around 900 million poultry are killed every year in the United Kingdom for meat and the vast majority of these were stunned into unconsciousness before being slaughtered. The RSPCA state that stunning causes an animal to lose consciousness, so that it can’t feel any pain until it is dead and the law states that all animals must be stunned before being killed, with a few exemptions. Halal and Kosher meat.
Animals killed that are acceptable to the religious faiths of Judaism and Islam are not stunned, they are restrained and their throat cuts and the animal dies slowly as the blood drains away.
Animal rights groups, the RSPCA and the Government advisory board, the Farm Animal Welfare Council all say that the suffering caused by this form of slaughter is severe. The FAWC report went as far as to say that 'slaughter without pre-stunning is unacceptable and the government should repeal the current exemption for religious slaughter'.
The Government are not going that far bur are considering labelling meat that has been killed according to Kosher or Halal methods so the public have a choice which isn't perfect but should make slaughterhouses think twice if demand falls, especially as at the moment they can send out any excess Kosher and Halal meat to supermarkets for the unprepared public to eat. If they are left with tonnes of un-stunned dead animals literally hanging around the place, they should reduce the amount of animals unnecessarily slaughtered.
In defense of the Kosher method, Shechita UK, a group set up to promote awareness of Jewish methods of slaughter, insist that cutting an animal's throat in a single swipe is less cruel than stunning it first. Behalal, whose mission statement is to 'educate and inform those wishing to follow the halal diet' say that Halal is actually more humane than conventional slaughter and produces less pre-stress for the animal'.
If the choices are between the RSPCA and the Government advisory board or a couple of organisations whose purpose is to promote the religious slaughter of animals, i know whose side most right thinking people should come down on.
People will always eat meat and most people don't consider the trip from the field to the fork but when the labels go on to show which animal was killed humanely and which was subject to severe suffering, your conscience should tell you, if you really have to eat meat, which to put in your basket.