I’m going to get straight to the point: this is not a religious post. It’s not a post about politics, or freedom of expression, either. It is a post about animal welfare.

Cows
“A duty of care applies throughout their life, and it still applies at their death,” says Nick.

I prelude with this simple statement because there is a dark tide of intolerance spreading across the world, and I have no desire to add to it. Consequently, I’ll try to cut the funnies out of this one, and be as clear as I can.

Respect

Here’s what I believe – if we are going to raise certain animals for the sole purpose of eating them, we must treat them with respect while we do so. We have a duty of care to them, to ensure they do not suffer as a consequence of our appetites.

This duty of care applies throughout their life, and it still applies at their death. In fact, it applies whatever your own personal social, political or religious beliefs, because it is not you that is suffering – it’s them.

Currently, in this country, some animals are conscious at the time they are slaughtered for meat, which is about as egregious abuse of welfare as I can imagine – if, as a companion animal vet, I treated a pet in the same way, I would probably be struck off the register for malpractice, and, potentially, prosecuted – therefore, I don’t think it’s acceptable for animals reared for us to eat, either.

Importance

The reason why this occurs is because – as I have been informed whenever I have written to my MP on this issue – although animal welfare is of prime importance to the Government, religious freedom is also up there. Both of those things are important to me too, but here’s where I differ: I don’t think “religious freedom” should be treated like diplomatic immunity – I don’t believe it should allow for behaviour which, if it was practised by someone who is not a member of that religion, would lead to prosecution and, possibly, a prison sentence.

This isn’t, as I mentioned, a post about religion. It’s not entirely, or even mostly, about Halal slaughter – you may be surprised to hear about 80% of Halal meat is stunned prior to slaughter, unlike Kosher meat, the ritual for which does not allow for stunning under any circumstances; the reason for the wiggle room in Halal meat is differing interpretations of the word “carrion” – a purely semantic argument that unfortunately translates into real animal suffering.

Alternative solution

Packaged meat
Nick says labelling meat as to its stun status is a much-needed alternative if non-stun slaughter is not to be banned. IMAGE: Fotolia/BillionPhotos.com

Here are my simple, clear thoughts on the matter: I don’t believe any creature should be conscious at the time it has its throat slit, particularly not cows and goats who, thanks to their vertebral blood supply, remain conscious for many minutes afterwards.

If, as the current Government has repeatedly stated, banning this practice is out of the question (and, if you agree with the sentiments in this post, I still think it is worth attempting to get it banned – there’s a petition here [https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/170207]) or write to your MP!), here’s an alternative solution: labelling.

I think people should have a choice as to whether their meat was awake at the moment it was killed or not. To avoid any possibility of religious discrimination, labels can simply read “stunned at slaughter” or “not stunned at slaughter”, and people can make their own minds up.

Help

This is an issue I have cared about for a long time, and sometimes, late at night, I think about all the creatures that have died in pain and fear since I first heard about it. I don’t want to tell you how to think, or how to act. I am aware there are a lot of terrible things happening in the world. Many of them are things we can’t change, but here’s one we can.

If you agree, please help.

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50 Comments on "Stunning at slaughter"

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Elwirka
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Elwirka
3 months 10 days ago

A lot of people don’t know what stunning before slaughter means. I bet if a animal welfare organisation will make a TV spot,advert about it a lot of people will open eyes and understand a lot.

M McBride
Guest
M McBride
3 months 10 days ago

I definately agree that this should be stopped , no animal should suffer this brutality for the sake of religion 😡😡😡😡😡😡😡

ginnie
Guest
3 months 10 days ago
Charlotte
Guest
3 months 10 days ago
Hi, I have so much to say on the subject of your article. My parents are both vets and this topic Firstly if animal welfare is your primary concern then I would expand that to considering all of the misery and traumatic moments experienced by a majority of these animals since birth, and leading up to their deaths. As if not being stunned at the end of your sorry excuse for an existence might mitigate possibly being raised in squalid, cramped conditions, being pumped full of antibiotics, fed on a diet that lacks nutritional value, not having the life experiences… Read more »
Simon
Guest
Simon
3 months 7 days ago

Charlotte – I support your views. However the point here surely is to tackle the issues raised one at a time. If we try to boil the ocean and trying to widen the debate will do exactly that, nothing will get changed.

M M
Member
M M
3 months 9 days ago

I agree. Such methods should be banned immediately. So brutal. Petition signed.

Melanie
Guest
Melanie
3 months 9 days ago

I feel your point is valid and would be a great first step! I currently work at a red meat abattoir as a veterinarian and my biggest issue above all else is humane slaughter. Stunning is a prerequisite and that is how it should be for all.

Emma
Guest
Emma
3 months 8 days ago

How do you bring yourself to do that job as a vegetarian?

Daaaaa
Guest
3 months 7 days ago

Who said she was a vegetarian? ;-S. She’s a veterinarian – a vet!!!! Doh.

Denise
Guest
Denise
3 months 1 day ago

Hi Melanie. Do all abattoirs have vets at them? Do they make sure all animals are killed humanly? Can we find a list of abattoirs that kill humanly? So we can purchase meat that comes from them? Sorry for so many questions but this is an issue I care about deeply. Thanks

Grace
Guest
Grace
2 months 12 days ago

Denise, the Food Standards Agency web site can supply the information you require: https://www.food.gov.uk/enforcement/sectorrules/meatplantsprems/meatpremlicence

Anne Wright
Guest
Anne Wright
3 months 9 days ago

Thank you for the info, I totally agree although I would like to be sure that stunning anesthetises them and not just paralyses them, do you know the answer please?

Helen Fielding
Guest
Helen Fielding
3 months 9 days ago
Effective captive bolt stunning renders the animal unconscious and therefore unaware of their environment, they are not paralysed. As with any form of slaughter there are occasions when animals are mis-stunned and still conscious but typically this is swiftly rectified with another stun. Bulls have thicker skulls so the mis-stun rate is higher but in general this results in a quick painless death of the animal. The majority of animals slaughtered without stunning become unconscious within the first ten seconds (count it out loud to consider how long that actually is) but a small percentage may be left for minutes… Read more »
Peter Harper
Guest
Peter Harper
3 months 8 days ago

Importing of animals that have not been reared and slaughtered in a way that meets what SHOULD be our higher standards should be made illegal. Simple.

Maggie Marshall
Guest
3 months 9 days ago

Agree 100%
It’s bad enough that we mass produce these animals for our own needs, there is no excuse for not treating them with respect during their life and their death.

carolyn ashcroft
Guest
3 months 9 days ago

this is very well written and close to many peoples hearts the words its about the animals not the religion than is so important and so very very the point

BETTY
Guest
BETTY
3 months 9 days ago

If people REALLY can’t stop eating dead animals, then we must enforce that that animal dies in the least painful way possible. This government needs to realise that this is MORE important to the vast marjority of people than medieval practices. I DO object to these religious issues because it is MY right to do so!!!

Iain McGill
Guest
3 months 9 days ago
Dear Nick, I think you are spot on, both in terms of respect for other cultures and religious beliefs and your commitment to animal protection. Great stuff – well said. I think the law needs amending so that all religious slaughter which involves an animal suffering at death is banned as soon as practically possible. It’s not compulsory for everyone in Britain to eat meat – it’s a choice. Every Christian, Jew or Muslim has the choice as to whether they wish to partake in the suffering of animals used for food, or not. The choice not to eat meat… Read more »
Max McFarlane
Guest
3 months 9 days ago

Agree totally.

Wendy Wilson
Guest
Wendy Wilson
3 months 9 days ago

Horrendous, we wouldn’t do it to a human so why should it be ok for animals who feel pain just as we do!

Jayne
Guest
Jayne
3 months 8 days ago

Unfortunately I know there is plenty of abuse to humans especially the elderly. I fully support stunning.

Moira Grainger
Guest
Moira Grainger
3 months 9 days ago

This is so cruel..I have seen a video concerning this method of no stunning.. It broke my heart and I still have the faces of those poor innocent animals in my head.. Could not bear to watch it again.. Terrible for any animal to die and suffer like that

Maria Lester
Guest
Maria Lester
3 months 9 days ago

Ive got a novel idea, howabout just not eating animals .

Anita Virginillo
Guest
Anita Virginillo
3 months 9 days ago

Our right to any type of freedom religious or otherwise ends where there is a victim. Anytime we kill an animal regardless of stunning or not there is a VICTIM. These animals have not given consent and therefore we have NO right to do with them how we wish. END OF CONVERSATION!

Karen Smith
Guest
Karen Smith
3 months 9 days ago

Slaughter is not humane. Full stop. Surely vets would know about how animals sense fear when they are being transported and enter the slaughter house. They can even smell blood. They are aware of death around them because they are intelligent creatures.

Kate sargent
Guest
Kate sargent
3 months 9 days ago

Or just dont eat meat at all…theres no such thing as “humane ” slaughter, killing a being that doesnt want to die is never humane, alot of animals are pregnant at the time of slaughter the foetuses are just cut out of them and thrown in the waste absolutely disgusting industry, and we dont need meat to survive so why are we doing this to them?

Philippa Bailey
Guest
Philippa Bailey
3 months 9 days ago

I am in support of this 100%. I studied an HND in Animal Science & Welfare, and it’s fair to say that there is STILL far too much animal suffering happening. We can put a man on the moon, but still unable to prevent unnecessary hideous cruelty.
This method of stunning before ” cutting their throats” should be automatic. Present from the word go!
This is a subject very close to my heart, and have absolute zero tolerance for any type of animal abuse, of any kind.
Where do I sign?

Claudia Jay
Guest
3 months 9 days ago

Animals shouldn’t be killed for meat or any other purpose full stop. Slaughtering an animal that doesn’t want to die at a fraction of their natural life span can never be humane or ethical

Michele Greene
Guest
3 months 9 days ago
I’m a vegetarian anyway, but when I did eat any meat, it was kosher — but I even used to ‘make sure’ that it was truly the original applications and practices of kosher, which, incidentally, means ‘compassionate.’ Kosher practices were originally specifically designed precisely with the animal’s thoughts and feelings ‘in mind,’ and to eliminate ANY suffering. In fact, the Torah repeatedly even advises to try and avoid eating meat if possible, and only when eating an animal, do not inflict suffering. Fish with scales must be killed swiftly, immediately, and shellfish are prohibited because they must be cooked generally… Read more »
LISA PITTS
Guest
LISA PITTS
3 months 8 days ago

I would love to sign but unable to as not a UK citizen.In Canada We do slaughter some animals in this fashion out of respect for the culture of a small population. All slaughter to ALL Animals is INHUMANE and out of respect for ALL Animals thus must stop.

Tessa Spencer
Guest
Tessa Spencer
3 months 8 days ago

How do we help with the product labelling?

Julie Page
Guest
Julie Page
3 months 8 days ago

Totally agree , have been in farming many many years our animals are our livelihoods the better we look after them the more money they are worth . Pain free and dignified death is the least they can be offered at the end.

Melanie Siggs
Guest
Melanie Siggs
3 months 8 days ago

This is exactly what I have been saying for sometime. HMG will not ban it but people should have a choice and awareness. A simple logo to denote Stunned or Non-stunned. Will require an additional level of traceability. Let me know how and if I can help.
I have also proposed that Red Tractor add a slaughterhouse standard – the only gap in their supply chain suite of standards. We could then debate what that looked like!

Baines
Guest
Baines
3 months 8 days ago

Can it ever be morally right to kill a self-aware animal that doesn’t want to die?

Lisa J Ryan
Guest
Lisa J Ryan
3 months 8 days ago
Many animals are still conscious at the time they are slaughtered for meat and it has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with the conveyor belt slaughter process where it can’t be stopped and won’t be stopped because they have quotas to meet and that means $$$. and 99% of workers in fear of their jobs will not speak out, like many vets on Live Export ships won’t speak out. There has been several recent exposes on Aussie slaughterhouses showing vile abuse of animals that the author of this article needs to watch. The article talks about… Read more »
Sue
Guest
Sue
3 months 1 day ago
I agree, the ‘stunning ‘is often not immediate or effective at all.As far as Kosher ,using a sharp blade to kill the animal across the carotid artery ,seemed kinder than some procedures I saw as a vet student.The kosher slaughters I saw , calves, became slowly and not obviously stressfully unconscious due to blood loss while held in a very kingpd manner by their slaughterer .I experienced this while on work experience in an abattoir as a vet student. It seemed a lot less traumatic in fact , the animals literally feinting , than an animal (pigs)being stunned badly ,… Read more »
Pete Sudbury
Guest
Pete Sudbury
3 months 8 days ago

I’m actually in favour of intolerance when it comes to barbaric practices. If you think your religion says kill animals in a barbaric way, then go live in a barbaric country and eat meat, or stay in this one and don’t eat meat. No ifs or buts. Get over it.

Gemma Hunt
Guest
Gemma Hunt
3 months 8 days ago

100% agree with what you said. I don’t eat meat and this is one of the reasons why. It must be determinedthat all animals are asleep, as throat slitting is such a gruesome and cruel end otherwise!

Sue Randall
Guest
3 months 8 days ago

As a vegan who is Jewish, I cringe when even progressive Jews simply refuse to see anything but the so-called religious freedom perspective and not the animal welfare one. To me, no meat is good meat; no slaughter is okay, and all this raising and killing of factory-farmed animals is completely different from what happened in ancient times. Human greed will be our undoing and sometimes I can’t wait. Thank you for caring enough to speak out.

Thomas Ainsworth
Guest
Thomas Ainsworth
3 months 8 days ago
Stunning isn’t effective either. There are too many instances when living, breathing Animals are being tortured, hung up and slaughtered. There is no moral argument for eating baby animals or any animal for that matter. Almost all the animals we eat are no more than children. Pigs are slaughtered at 3 to 6 months, chickens at 8 to 12 weeks (males get killed immediately after sexing), Cows reared for us to consume their flesh live to one year old because the flesh tastes best at that age apparently. Actually, the reason is that the animal is at optimal growth and… Read more »
Myra Bowman
Guest
Myra Bowman
3 months 8 days ago

If we really care about the way animals are treated in the food chain then we will become vegetarians or better still vegan. The less animals eaten by people, the less will be bred as the market for them will be less. Yes and continue working for better end of life conditions regardless. It is our duty as caring humans to do so. Petition signed by a vegan.

Angela
Guest
Angela
3 months 8 days ago

Totally agree. I have been veggie/vegan for over thirty years now. My children have followed on ….now grown-up. Two of them have babies of their own almost entirely vegan babies by the way. This is all because of the unthinkable way animals are treated. We could never imagine eating an animal ….mammal, fish or bird . …..ever.

Laurella Desborough
Guest
3 months 8 days ago

Native Americans respected the animals they slaughtered. It is only decent to do so. Respect means to avoid unnecessary suffering. To do otherwise is simply horribly cruel.

dogvet
Guest
dogvet
3 months 8 days ago

I’ve been trying for years to find dog food that’s guaranteed to come from stunned animals. Anyone know of any? None of the major manufacturers are interested.

Peter Harper
Guest
Peter Harper
3 months 8 days ago

Since electronic stunning was not an available option at the times that these religious texts were written, how could it possibly be true that those religions do not allow an animal to be stunned before its throat is slit?
Do they contain stipulations that the animal must be killed in as barbaric and painful a way as possible? If not, then I would be very interested to know what phrasing exists in their texts that forbids an animal from being saved from the terror and pain they are caused by NOT being stunned before they are slaughtered.

David Williams
Guest
David Williams
3 months 8 days ago

Just give consumers the choice – seems only fair.

Car Nightingale
Guest
Car Nightingale
3 months 8 days ago

I wrote to my MP. Got fobbed off and referred to min of Ag (or whatever its called now). I couldn’t even get out of him whether he would support an outright ban of non stunned slaughter.

Dr M
Guest
Dr M
3 months 7 days ago
I’d like to weigh in here from personal experience. I’m a Veterinary surgeon, and as part of our training we spent time in abattoirs so I’ve seen both sides of the story and there are pros and cons to each argument that I won’t go into. If you think that the captive bolt method of stunning cattle (a retrievable bolt is shot into the skull at a very specific position on the head causing loss of consciousness) is humane, I can tell you that if it is done correctly 1st time, then yes it is. However I witnessed many missed… Read more »
Marian Nash
Guest
Marian Nash
3 months 2 days ago

I no longer eat either beef or lamb for this reason, people should boycott

Mana-hen mladek
Guest
Mana-hen mladek
2 months 18 days ago
This is so true. And, it applies to all animals we raise either to eat or to eat what they produce. I run a hen rescue and I have been in some horrendous places that could not be consider satisfactory on the welfare scale. I’ve seen the disrespect that they receive when being “shovelled up” to go for slaughter. I’ve watched grown men slam hens in to our crates, 8 at a time, holding them by one leg. They do it out of bravado. It’s almost as if they are trying to insult me by doing this as they think… Read more »
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