Religious Slaughter – No it really IS about the animals.

By Sarah Marshadlam

So what’s the big deal about relgious slaughter?

The revelation that supermarkets and food outlets across the UK have been supplying us with Halal meat in secret has just gone viral in the past few days. It’s made people aware of what religious slaughter entails and sparked outrage by the fact it is unlabelled.

As someone who has been interested in animal welfare, I’ve been aware and campaigning against religious slaughter for a couple of years along with animal charities such as the RSPCA, PETA and Compassion in World Farming. To me and other supporters, it has absolutely nothing to do with religion or culture. Religious slaughter is cruel in the same way that caged hens are or sow stalls. I couldn’t care less what prayer or blessing they utter over food, just the psychical process. The fact it has gone unlabelled is wrong no matter what your beliefs are.

There are a lot of comments flying around critisizing us who oppose religious slaughter. Some people are misinformed – you can see comments on the internet such as ‘Who cares?’, ‘No slaughter is painfree, what is the difference?’ ‘Most of Halal meat is pre stunned anyway, what’s the problem?’ and ‘Halal meat is only different in that it’s had a Muslim blessing uttered over it’. ‘Why not be a vegetarian?’

Whether you care about halal or not, don’t you think we should have a right to choose?

Supermarkets and eateries cashed in on the fact that there are many muslims in Britain and wrongly assumed that non-mulsims ‘don’t care’ whether they are receiving halal meat or not. You can see how in their money making minds, they would think ‘people wont care, so we may as well have all meat halal and that will keep muslims happy too’. Now it is obvious people DO care. OnePoll revealed 83%  of people asked thought animals should be pre-stunned properly. The poll in the Guardian was roughly 50/50.

For one reason, it’s a consumers right to know what they are buying. Remember the outrage from the horse meat scandal? And recently the fact that supermarkets were advertising trawled tuna as pole and line? Consumers have a right to know what they are buying and putting into their body. On the Pizza Express website it says that they never kept it a secret that they use halal meat as it’s on their websites…. I don’t know about you, but do you scour a restraunts website for potential things like this? Especially when before a couple of days ago, most people didn’t realise halal was used in the mainstream. You wouldn’t think to go on their website to look for it, because you had no reason to think it. Especially if you are living in a place, like I do where we don’t seem to have any muslims. It doesn’t say anything about it in their menus, or in their stores. If there’s no secret about it, why not advertise it there?

As well as it being against our spiritual beliefs to eat an animal that has been religiously slaughtered, it’s also against Sikhs religious beliefs too to eat kosher or halal meat.

Are they stunned or aren’t they?

EU regulations state that all animals slaughtered must be pre stunned with the EXCEPTION to religious slaughter. This makes the regulation pretty pointless as it means that religious slaughter houses don’t have to stun the animals. To those that don’t stun, the animal is entirely concious and in pain and frightened throughout the whole process.  In 2012 the FDA revealed that in religious slaughter, 3% of cattle, 10% of sheep and goats, 4% poultry of animals in religious slaughter are NOT stunned at all.

Is religious slaughter stunning different than traditional stunning?

Traditional British slaughter involves a bolt of electricity or physical bolt to the brain making the animal instantly unconscious and unable to feel pain. So what about the religious slaughterhouses that do use stunning? If the animals dies due to stunning itself, then they cannot eat it so they have to ensure this doesn’t happen. A lower voltage is used to stun the animals. The problem with this is that after the lower voltage only renders it unconscious for about 37 seconds and then recovery begins. In fact, on the organic – halal- meat website (which is pro halal) says this is even shorter – they state: “The stun used is a very low voltage that knocks the animal out for around 15-20 seconds. After 20 seconds it is potentially back to normal and during that 20 seconds it is alive and breathing. This means that when the animal is cut it still bleeds the animal properly”.

After the stun, the animals throat is cut and in halal slaughterhouses they are hung upside down to drain. Unfortunately death doesn’t always occur in 37 seconds, for example a calf can take 104 seconds to die. For some animals it can take longer. Blood accumilates in the spinal cord when hanging upside down enabling it to feel pain, which apart from the cutting, the being hung upside down would be extremely painful for a larger animal such as a cow. Watching videos on youtube of animals in pain and fear as they spend a few minutes to die is heart breaking.

The speed of the death depends on the precision of the knife user. Some methods are more benificial from a religious viewpoint but not a biological one. In investigations, it is shown that in some kosher slaughterhouses, cows were seen staggering about: “A cow stood up after being dumped on the floor and went into the corner. They managed to kill one or two more cows while he lay there moving around trying to stand up. He continually moved his nearly severed head around … as his legs were also making an effort to stand.”The first time I saw a cow stagger to his feet and walk around with his trachea dangling outside of his body, I thought to myself, this can’t be happening—but after several days I knew better….There is no justification for the cruelty I documented in that slaughterhouse. ” One video shows this taking five minutes.

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If we eat meat anyway, do we care how it dies?

Now, there is no way I’m saying current methods of all aspects of factory farming are great, which is why charities like Compassion in World Farming are compelling the government to improve conditions, and religious slaughter is just one of the things on the agenda. It’s obvious that every piece of meat we eat has been bred and killed specifically for our consumption.
It’s easy to say ‘why not be a vegetarian and not eat meat at all’ but although that would be a lovely Utopian ideal, there is NO WAY everyone in the UK and the rest of the world will become vegetarian. So, as believed by animal organisations especially Compassion in World Farming, IF we as humans are going to continue to eat meat, we have to make sure that the life of the animal and the death is as peaceful and pain free as possible. This is why charities like these have been campaigning with success for improvements into the factory farming industry. They banned battery hens, they banned sow stalls – gradually things are improving for animals that are used for food. Live exports is another terrible practice which they are campaigning for.

Where is the line between respecting religions and common sense drawn?

Quite rightly, in the UK we are taught to respect other religions and cultures,but at what point is a line drawn between respecting people’s beliefs and common sense. Religion can be interpreted so many different ways, and a lot of things are taken out of context or are just outdated. Because this is regarding animals and animals are deemed not as important as humans, it’s allowed.  We don’t allow female genital mutilation or arranged marriages even though these are aspects of people’s religion and cultures. Why don’t we allow these? Because common sense says, ‘No this is wrong’.  But the difference is, this is regarding animals, which people don’t think is as important… Also there is the fact that religiously slaughtered meat is bringing in nice profit.

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Playing the ‘Racist’ Card

To those who do care about animal welfare, other religions or just agree with consumer rights, how are we being treated?

Take these head lines:

“The national debate on animal slaughter smacks of sensationalism and Islamophobia, Jewish and Muslim groups said last night”
“The hysteria over halal chicken has nothing to do with animal welfare. It’s phoney outrage that tastes of Islamophobia”
“The halal outrage has little to do with animal welfare. The Daily Mail et al feign concern for animals in their objection to Muslim ritual slaughter – which is in fact a humane, swift method”
 

I certainly wasn’t labelled a racist or bigot when I campaigned against battery hens, live exports or even the use of seahorses in Chinese medicine. Yet now, people like me are being critisized as ‘Islamaphobes’. Its prejudice and discriminative to belittle OUR beliefs and dismiss them especially stating it has nothing to do with animal welfare.

So if this is just about anti-muslims and nothing to do with animal welfare then why are the RSPCA, British Veterinary Association, PETA and Compassion in World Farming bothered?

‘Comedian’ Russell Brand made a ridiculous video reply which started with holding up the Sun with the headline about Pizza Express having only Halal meat in their restaurants, saying: ‘ I can’t believe the sun had such a racist front cover’? He then went on to joke about the difference between Halal killing, by slitting the throat and then the British way, singing Spandard Ballet to them. I gave up watching at that point, he obviously had not bothered to research anything and instead make a sweeping statement that all who oppose halal are just racists.

The real victims of discrimination

Its very ironic that we are being called racist. After all, its OUR beliefs that are being dismissed and us that are receiving the derogatory name calling. We are being judged by sweeping statements, stereotyped as ‘Daily Mailers’, ‘Islamaphobes and receiving negative comments.  THIS is prejudice and discrimination.

As I said, in Britain we are encouraged to respect other people’s beliefs and not offend, quite right too!  However, our own beliefs and opinions should matter too. All people should be respected, not just certain minority groups.  I remember recently a dinner lady got the sack because she gave non-kosher food to a Jewish boy. I agree, this was not right. But his parents weren’t labelled racist for rejecting non-jewish food? So why is it ok for a non muslim  to be secretly fed halal/kosher food?

For people like me, it’s against our spiritual beliefs to eat animals that have been killed this way.  However it’s not just us which are being discriminated against – it is against Sikhs religions to eat Halal or Kosher food too. So why is it one rule for one and one rule for another? When a child is given non kosher meat, a dinner lady is sacked (because the food was given to them and it’s against their religion), yet it’s ok for a Sikh to be given halal or kosher meat even though it’s against their religion?

Surely, whether you are Muslim, or you just don’t care about animal slaughter, you must agree that food should be correctly labelled? That as consumers we have a right to choose, in the same way we can choose whether we buy free range eggs or caged-hen eggs?

Negative affects of discrimination.

The result of the name calling and finger pointing at people opposing religious slaughter will lead to more bad feeling. People don’t like being labelled derogatory names like racist, especially when we aren’t. We don’t like our views and opinons being distorted and trampled on either. Previously moderate and tolerant people will indeed be riled and think ‘Hang on a minute, what about us? We are British citizens too, why is our view not important just because we aren’t a minority group? Everyone cares about respecting Muslim’s beliefs, but not ours?’ Respecting equality and diversity creates a rich and peaceful society, but that doesn’t just apply to certain groups.

So what can we do ?

Spreading awareness is the key and standing up for your rights. We need to make supermarkets and eateries aware that we DO care where our meat comes from. Sign petitions such as the ones from British Veterinary Association here:

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/64331

Also this could have a positive effect on local farmers – rather than buy meat at the supermarket go to your local butcher.

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Links:
RSCPA views on religious slaughter:
http://www.rspca.org.uk/ImageLocator/LocateAsset?asset=document&assetId=1232719611043&mode=prd
Compassion in World Farming:
http://www.ciwf.org.uk/faqs/organisation/halal_meat_and_religious_slaughter.aspx

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Bake with Compassion for Compassion in World Farming

By Sarah Marshadlam

60 billion animals are farmed for food each year – the majority of these in cruel intensive factories. WE are the consumers, it’s up to US to put a stop to this cruelty.

UPDATE – £31.87 raised

08/11/2013 The cake sales have ended! Thank you very much to everyone who donated, we generated £31.87 which I will be sending off to the charity now!

17/10/2013 Cake sales are doing well already! I’ve sold cakes at my work Lenric International  (thank you all for your donations!!) and will bake another batch this weekend for my husband’s work Equiniti.

The cupakes went down very well!! Thank you also to Compassion in World Farming who sent me a lovely reply to my email and were VERY helpful in offering to send any items to support. Looking forward to receiving my factsheets/leaflets to pass around.

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I made the collection tin out of a Bisto gravy container and stuck to the fundraising pack as a backing

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How to join in

By following the link above you can receive your own bake with compassion fundraising pack. It’s brilliant – it has recipes, banners, posters – everything you need to hold your own bake sale.

Simply bake cakes or treats with kindly sourced produce – free range eggs, organic milk etc. At school, work, social meeting places or hold your own coffee morning at home; sell your cakes  to raise money for Compassion in World Farming. You can also spread awareness by putting up posters or creating factsheets to hand out. It’s great to get the kids involved too!

I will be starting baking cupcakes soon and selling at mine and my husband’s work as well as urging friends and family to buy,  so will put an update on later! I will be giving out a factsheet to every person that buys too.

After your sale, simply follow the instructions on their website to donate the amount you’ve made.

Why?

The Compassion in World Farming charity is a wonderful cause – the work they do is ending the unnecessary cruelty and suffering endured by farm animals in ‘factory farming’ methods and live exports.

The charity campaigns and works towards global reform and spreads awareness to consumers.

To learn more visit: http://ciwf.org.uk/farm_animals/default.aspx

The facts  are shocking – mass produced meat, diary and eggs cause so much suffering to animals. From intensive programmes, overcrowding, religious slarught, to exports. It’s completely unnecessary – torturing animals for cheap food is not a valid reason!

The below images are upsetting, but it’s only by being aware of where our food come from that we can make wise choices and work towards changing legalisation. Factory farming may make the food in our basket cheaper, but is it worth it?

Squeezed-Chickens

This poor sheep is undergoing ‘mulesing’ – surgical removal of skin around the tail WITHOUT anaesthetic. This is to prevent ‘fly strike’.

sheep_undergoing_mulesing

These animals can feel pain, fear and a whole range of emotions. If we are going to breed them for meat, we have a responsibility to give them a decent life and a pain and fear-free end.

What can we do to end this abuse?

60 billion animals are farmed for food each year – the majority of these in cruel intensive factories. WE are the consumers, it’s up to US to put a stop to this cruelty.

The theme of my blog is that ‘every little bit counts’. If every body did a tiny thing to help, we’d make big changes. We can help by spreading awareness so more people know the truth about the grim reality. Sign petitions on website such as ‘petitionsite’ and ‘care2’ and ‘change’. Laws need to be changed so that farm animals are reared kindly and killed humanely.

The most important thing we can do ourselves is choosing the food we buy wisely. I know money is tight, and mass produced meat, eggs and diary is cheap but is it worth it? If you don’t think you can regularly go free range/organic then don’t buy it at all.

I’m not flush with cash but will only buy free range now, so meat is a treat and tastes all the more better knowing that my conscience is clear and the animal had a good life before being humanely killed. Eggs are milk on the otherhand are not much more expensive than the crueler versions if you shop smartly – I find Asda the cheapest – 6 free range eggs for 98p! Only buy British ham/pork – easy to identify by the union jack on the packaging.

For more ways to shop wisely view the link below:

http://ciwf.org.uk/your_food/default.aspx

About the charity ( From their website) 

Compassion in World Farming was founded over 40 years ago in 1967 by a British farmer who became horrified by the development of modern, intensive factory farming.

Today we campaign peacefully to end all cruel factory farming practices. We believe that the biggest cause of cruelty on the planet deserves a focused, specialised approach – so we only work on farm animal welfare.

Read more about our strategy >>

We are immensely proud of what we have achieved so far:

  • Our award winning undercover investigations have exposed the reality of modern intensive farming systems and brought the plight of farm animals to the attention of the world’s media
  • Our political lobbying and campaigning has resulted in the EU recognising animals as sentient beings, capable of feeling pain and suffering. We have also secured landmark agreements to outlaw the barren battery cage for egg-laying hens, narrow veal crates and sow stalls across Europe
  • Compassion in World Farming’s Food Business Team is working with some of the world’s biggest food companies – retailers, producers and manufacturers. The companies we work with are a key part of the drive towards a more ethical and sustainable food supply. Our Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards are already benefitting millions of animals each year. Over 311 million animals are set to benefit each year as a result of our Good Award winners’ policies”

Ideas and recipies for Bake with Compassion!

The bake with compassion fundraising pack comes with toppers which you can cut out and assemble with cocktail sticks.

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Ingredients

For the buttercream icing

1000’s of Seahorses killed for souvenirs or medicine

By Sarah Marshadlam

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THE VULNERABLE BEAUTY

The seahorse is a beautiful and unique jewel of the ocean. But sadly these creatures are being destroyed and wont be with us for much longer. Seahorses are especially vulnerable because they do not have much defense mechanism and are very slow to move. They are also slow to reproduce and only a handful of babies survive per batch.  Being so defensless and restricted to a small area makes them easily collected.  While researching the threat to seahorses I was astonished by how many humans were destroying.

THE EXTENT OF THE PROBLEM

* 50% of seahorse population has diminished in the past 10 years. 

* Estimated to be extinct in 10-30 years

* 200 million killed each year for Chinese medicine/ Souvenirs

* 2.2 million caught in shrimp nets each year.

* 1 million caught for pet trade per year, but est only 1000 survive.

THE 200 MILLION PER YEAR FOR SOUVENIRS AND CHINESE MEDICINE

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There was a time when I would go into a seaside gift shop and consider purchasing one of these ‘cool and interesting’ souvenirs – a perfect dried ‘fossil/replica’ of one of these beautiful creatures. These can be as they are, or fashioned into key rings, paperweights or jewellery. I ignorantly assumed that these interesting relics were found washed up on a beach or from a fossil. I also didn’t know to what extent dried seahorses featured in Chinese medicine. 

The horrific truth is that an astonishing 200 milion seahorses per year are  killed and dried specifically for Chinese medicine and souvenir sales. They are caught from the wild and harvested before being cruelly left to dry out. In one research, 100% of the males captured were pregnant, so it wasn’t just one generation killed.

I could not believe the amount – 200 million per year?! And for gifts and hocus pocus medicines? The Chinese believe that seahorses heal many ailments including baldness, aging, infertility and incontinence. There is no scientific evidence to support the health benefits although there are warnings such as ‘do not take if pregnant’ so there must be certain known side effects.

dried

I know these images are very upsetting but this is the sad truth behind the trade.

Efforts to farm seahorses has been unsuccessful and often more destructive due to capturing pregnant males. 

SHRIMP TRAWLERS

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Shrimp trawling is the most destructive form of fishing there is. Trawlers use nets to  scrape the bottom of the ocean, destroying the delicate ecosystem and habitats and catching marine life along the way. Each year trawlers destroy an area twice the size of continental USA each year.

Because the trawler is not selective, for every kilogram of shrimp on our plates, 10 kilograms of other marine life including seahorses is caught too. As it’s unwanted, it’s either dumped overboard dead or dying, or used as fish meal.

AQUARIUM TRADE

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While I can understand why it would be brilliant to own a pet seahorse at home, it’s not wonderful to know that a lot of seahorses for pet trade are captured from the wild.

About 1 million per year, mainly juvenilles, are wild caught for the pet trade, with the Seahorse Trust reporting that less than a 1000 of these will survive more than 6 weeks. Usually from a slow and painful death.

These above are captive bred, but even so, waiting to be sold in a tiny tank with no shelter or proper habitat…

IRISH ARE CASHING IN ON DRIED SEAHORSES?

Worryingly closer to home,  a report suggests that Irish company Seahorse Ireland Ltd are going to start their own seahorse farms to breed seahorses then kill them to be dried to sell to the Chinese. The misguided idea is that this will ease wild caught seahorses. Surely the best thing would be to spread awareness and STOP the trade on dried seahorses rather than cashing in themselves on the death toll?

CAN WE CHANGE THINGS? 

Even if we make tiny changes ourselves, in turn big changes can take place. If every person shared knowledge with their friends and family and made some positive changes then maybe we can save these beautiful creatures from further destruction.

An example of this is the good news that in 2012  ebay, the largest online marketplace in the world, banned the sale of dried seahorses!  This was after a campaign from a seahorse charity in Devon, England.

After seeing dried seahorses for sale in a gift shop on Brighton seafront, I sent an email to Brighton sea life centre. I received a positive response saying that they were not aware of this and will now be looking into lobbying local shops.

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WHAT WE CAN DO

Here are several ways we can make a difference. Again, if you spread awareness to friends and family then more and more people will be involved in changing the fate of the seahorse!

* Do not buy any seahorse souvenirs or medicines.

* Do not eat shrimp or any fish caught by trawlers – only buy from organic certified farms.

* Sign petitions online such as below. Campaign to ban he sale of seahorses and trawling.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/734/419/316/ban-the-trade-in-seahorses/

* Spread awareness to local shops. By contacting Brighton Sealife centre, they were made aware that local dried seahorse trade was occurring in the area. Notify local marine conservation trusts if you come across shops selling these items.

* If you buy pet seahorses, make sure they are not wild caught but captive bred.

* Educate children on nature and conservation issues. Sparking a passion and respect for our world early on will build the foundations to a future society of rounded people that care for their environment. 

By Sarie Marshadlam

RELEVANT WEBSITES:

The Seahorse Trust:

http://www.theseahorsetrust.org/research.aspx

Project Seahorse:

http://www.zsl.org/conservation/regions/asia/project-seahorse/

Sea Life Centre:

http://www.visitsealife.com/

Save our Seahorses:

http://www.saveourseahorses.org/home.php