16 March 2011

Kosher and Halal, Shechita and Dhabiha, Cruel and Crueler

When you kill animals for food, God likes it done in a certain way.

It's one of the many things that the Torah and the Quran agree on. (See here for some others.) And it's an important part of life for Muslims and Jews.

Food that has been prepared according to Muslim dietary laws is called halal, while food consistent with Jewish laws is called kosher. Both have similar requirements when it comes to killing and eating animals.

God's rules for slaughtering animals are so similar, in fact, that some Muslims say that food prepared from animals killed using the Jewish rules (Shechita) is halal, although it seems that most Jews don't consider Dhabiha-killed animals kosher. Whatever. Either method should be sufficiently cruel to satisfy both Yahweh and Allah.

Here are some of the rules that they have in common.

  • The animal is killed with a sharp, non-serrated blade that cuts through the carotid arteries, jugular veins, esophagus, and trachea.

  • The spinal chord is not cut to insure that the nervous system is undamaged while the animal bleeds to death.

And here are some special requirements for Dhabiha killings.

  • Allah's name must be uttered before the slaughter.

  • The animal's head must be pointing toward Mecca while its throat is cut.

I'm including some videos for you to watch, if you have the stomach for it, that is. (I couldn't make it through either of them.)

Both forms of religious ritualistic killing should be illegal everywhere. And wherever it is legal, no decent person should support it by eating kosher or halal foods.


cs said...

Wow. I'm not sentimental vis à vis animals. we keep pigeons to eat. I kill them by taking their heads off with an axe.
But those videos were GRIM!
Allah and Yahweh are 2 bloodthirsty nasty bastards.
No seriously, we must no longer be prissy about this stuff, be brave enough to speak out.

Brian said...

What are the other ways it's done? How much worse than the average USDA approved regular slaughter are these?

The Wise Fool said...

That is one of the most disgusting and disturbing things I've seen in a long time. We can do better than that.

Tarentola Mauritanica said...

Well, by now i have come to the conclusion that this is all nonsense. Killing animals is murder and there are no "cruel" or "civilized" ways to do it if the reason for doing it is eating them.

I am NOT a vegetarian, so obviously i am amongst those condoning the murder of animals. And I would say so are most readers on this blog.

Let us not pretend to be more civilized because we kill em faster.

Tonya Goodell said...

yes...disturbing however I agree with previous poster regarding our current industrialized factory farms which are no better. Any way you go about it the slaughtering of animals is barbaric and in the factory farm they have the added bonus of enduring a horrible existence before death.

Steve Wells said...

I agree with the comments about the standard methods used to kill animals in the meat industry. I suspect that they also are cruel, even when they conform to the USDA slaughter requirements. They are, however, less cruel than the God-approved and required ritualistic killings. If we are going to kill animals for food, we should do it as quickly and painlessly as possible. And it should not be glorified with supposedly sacred rituals.

As a fallen-away vegetarian, I confess to have eaten may share of meat lately. But the Shechita/Dhabiha videos have encouraged me to get back on the wagon. I think we should all think before we eat. I think I'll confine my thinking to the botanical world from now on.

Markus Arelius said...

"If we're not supposed to eat meat, then why did God make cows taste so good?"

I remember a bumpersticker like that which outraged my vegan (talk about militant!) girlfriend at the time.

I laughed out loud and yeah, we broke up. Steak dinner with Guinness alone still tasted better.

The captive bolt pistol used in the film does not kill the cow. It renders it unconscious that it can be completely and easily bled out. You have to bleed them out or you'll get meat spoilage faster than you can say I wantmybabybackbabyback...ribs.

Other than the initial strike to the skull/brain, which happens in a microsecond, the animal feels no pain or suffering before death.

That technology has been around for over 100 years. Kind of dumb not to make use of it. Before that, yeah, it was slice 'n dice just like in the halal butchery in the films - machetes and handheld saws. Animals felt the full spectrum of pain and suffering for several minutes before death. Very inefficient, slow and wasteful, not to mention "cruel".

However, I think reduced cruelty to animals is more of an unintended consequence in modern meat industry. The competitive pressure for increased speed, efficiency and reduction of waste (time, materials, maximum extraction) were driving forces behind the bolt pistol development, not to mention cattle movement technologies and pathways, etc. (See Temple Grandin, amazing story).

That all said, we should be grateful that humans have compassion and even consider animal cruelty when our competitive predators like the great white shark, the lion, the tiger and bear exhibit none whatsoever because feeling compassion would limit their survival.

Brian said...

Is it possible to kill them in their sleep and have them not wake up?

Dan said...

The majority of our evolution was spent as a preditor. That is why cows taste so damn good. The prospect of a life without Prime Rib, Barbequed ribs, and T-bones would be like solitary confinement. But then I have lived in Montana since 1962 and we have BB grills in our churches for alters. When I lived in Dallas one of our friends was from India and became physically ill at the sight of the Thanksgiving turkey. I will admit, that would be one religion I'd have to reject just for that reason. We hunt deer and elk for food and consider it a good season when our freezers are full. I would consider eating dogs in Korea and pigeons wherever cs lives to be somewhat odd so that was probably how my friend felt while we ate turkey. A lot of this is just protein and survival, where it gets downright nuts is when religion enters the picture. When I am told that I am eating a reincarnated relative or I didn't kill the animal just exactly right, I almost laugh out loud. We have become so removed from the reality of survival, one would easily make a religion out of mac and cheese from of a box.

Markus Arelius said...

I liked Dan's point about hunting.

And it raises an important question.
I'm pretty sure Islamic/Jewish societies hunted wild animals for food and did not solely herd domesticated ones. Trapping food works well (the human expends less energy, etc.) but sometimes depending on conditions you really do have to hunt it down. I guess their must be exceptions to halal rules if you're using a bow and arrow like an Assyrian archer just get some food to survive.
So if God accepts exceptions, what's the deal with the antiquated wastefulness?

Dan said...

Markus, A steak dinner and a guinness sounds great. I find it also interesting that some of the new diets that are coming out are heavy on the meat and protein. One of them postulates that all the grain based foods may be causing problems with out bodies due to its evolution. Meat eaters are usually muscular and quick (large cats, dogs, bears, etc.) Grain eaters can out run them over distances (deer, elk, antelope) That is why [Brian] we try to sneak up on them and kill them while they are sleeping.

skanksta said...

vALL animals in the UK MUST be slaughtered in exactly this way - BUT for one very important difference - they must be stunned, (by a sort of electrical forceps)first so that pain and suffering is reduced to a minimum. That's been law since around the late 80s.

As a meat-eater I'm happy with that - the process is as painless and humane as slaughter can ever realistically be.

Thus Yahweh and Allah - who never even spared a thought for animal suffering - are less morally advanced than Her Maj's Ministry of Agriculture !

Divine beings indeed, lol !

nazani said...

I regret to say that some forms of halal slaughter are worse. There are regional variations where the legs are chopped off the living animal so that the beating heart will pump the blood out of the body. I suppose this makes some kind of sense if you have no way to hang up the animal so that gravity makes it bleed out.

Vanessa Pierce said...

I think the issue with our reactions to these videos is death in general. No matter what way it is done...something must die for us to live(whether plant or animal).
If it makes us feel better to "kill them faster" it is only okay because it alieves us of some of the guilt.
These videos remind me, more than anything, that death is horrible. That it is not forever. And that I can't wait for the day when it is no more.
Right now we still sacrifice a physical life so we can live. While 2000 ago there was a spiritual sacrifice so that we could live spiritually. Jesus takes away the sin of the world. And when He comes back he will cure the world of death forever.