Animal Aid statement on non-stun slaughter

Animal Aid recognises that, given the existence of strong anti-Muslim sentiment amongst a section of the British population, there is a risk that some people will use the release of our new halal slaughterhouse footage to stir up hatred rather than to advance the cause of animal protection. As an organisation opposed to racism and bigotry, that would be an outcome we would detest. However, withholding release of the footage would be a betrayal of our key mission: to expose and combat animal cruelty.

Malik Food Group is the 12th slaughterhouse in which we have filmed undercover since January 2009. Of the 12 slaughterhouses we have filmed in, 10 attempted to stun the animals before killing them. Two were Soil Association-approved, and another was accredited by the RSPCA. We found evidence of lawbreaking in nine out of these 10 traditional ‘stun’ slaughterhouses. This included animals being kicked, punched in the face, given electric shocks and burnt with cigarettes.

So Malik Food Group is by no means the only slaughterhouse to inflict illegal suffering on animals. The feature that distinguishes it from the traditional English slaughterhouse is that it kills animals without pre-stunning with electric tongs or by a shot in the head with a captive bolt. Jewish and Muslim religious authorities assert that death by the shechita or halal methods, without pre-stunning (many halal slaughterhouses do, in fact, stun first), is instantaneous and painless. A body of evidence demonstrates that this is not a credible position, and our new footage removes any remaining doubt. Rather than animals being treated with compassion and being uninjured prior to the fatal cut, we see them treated with violence and contempt. Additionally, many of the sheep in our film are not dispatched with a single clean cut, but have their throats hacked at repeatedly with a knife that is either blunt or being used ineptly.

Compassionate people, whatever their religious beliefs, or none, will be appalled by the treatment endured by these animals. But mainstream ‘humane’ slaughter, as we have seen, is also deeply problematic. We are unconvinced that the electric tongs, even when used properly, render an animal ‘instantly insensible’, as claimed. Rather, they might simply deliver an agonising, immobilising electric shock.

Animal Aid believes that attacks on halal and shechita ‘ritual’ slaughter methods, by people who refuse also to speak out against ‘humane’ slaughter, are often rooted in bigotry and hypocrisy. How many people, for instance, who become impassioned on the question of halal slaughter, are prepared to forgo their weekly curried chicken or lamb – made from dead animals killed by the halal method? Similarly, when visiting predominantly Muslim countries (e.g. Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco), how many refrain from eating meat for the duration of their stay?

But whatever method is used to kill animals, or whichever authority presides over the killing, there is no mercy in a slaughterhouse. The animals are traumatised. They don’t want to be killed, but they are killed and for no good reason. Meat, egg and milk production are pitiless, bloody activities that involve industrial-scale animal exploitation and killing and yet we can thrive without animal products. That is why Animal Aid urges people to adopt an animal-free diet.

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