Kosher and halal

In order for meat/poultry to be kosher, the animal must be slaughtered by an observant Jew.  Its throat must be cut using a sharp blade and in one stroke.  The animal is then inspected to verify it had no maladies or wounds.  The meat must be “kashered” prior to consumption by smearing it with salt and letting most of the blood drain out.  The Torah prohibits the consumption of blood.  It also, according to standard interpretation, prohibits cruelty to animals.  “Cruelty to animals” is only prohibited if there is no benefit from the suffering.  As it so happens, we cannot eat meat without killing the animal (it is also forbidden to eat the limb from a living animal).  Killing is otherwise considered “cruel”.
Islam copied the laws of kosher slaughter along with many other things.  Of course, Muslims do not require a Jew to do the slaughtering.   According to Islam, any food that is kosher is also permissible to Muslims.  This does not work the other way; even though kosher is halal, halal is not kosher.
Through most of history, the kosher way of slaughter was considered humane; it involved less pain than striking the animal repeatedly with a hammer, eating it while it was still alive or inflicting many small wounds all over its body.  With the advance of technology, more humane methods of slaughter were devised.  At the same time, more people developed a new-found conscientiousness regarding the welfare of animals (but not usually insects or microbes).
While advancements in our standards of mercy are generally a good thing, I think it is important to maintain perspective.  Even as the uproar plays out in the U.K. over the sneaking of halal meats into the mouths of non-Muslims, we should take media claims with a grain of salt.  I do not believe that most meat-eaters care about the suffering of animals during their slaughter.  They just want their meat.  The real issue here is not so much cruelty to animals but cultural imperialism.  Those who oppose the mass implementation of halal in the U.K. are probably more concerned with their own suffering – at the loss of their civilization – than with the suffering of animals.  Here we have yet another case of people protesting what is permissible to protest (“inhumane” slaughter of animals) rather than what is forbidden to protest (their own genocide through mass immigration).
I do not see anything wrong with halal (kosher) slaughter.  In nature, animals kill each other in the most cruel and unspeakable ways.  Humans are the only animal that deliberately minimizes the suffering of its prey.  Even then, not all humans share this sensibility.  In Korea, dogs and cats are tortured and cooked alive.  That most of us find this reprehensible puts us on a higher level than those Koreans.  I do not think the solution is for Americans to pass laws against eating dogs or cats.
While it may feel good to adopt a holier than thou attitude about methods of slaughter, in the end such attitudes may force us all to be vegetarians.  After all, if our goal is to minimize animal suffering, vegetarians are the Brahmans of this caste system.  Koreans would be untouchables and the rest of us somewhere in between.  If a plant-rights movement ever gains momentum, then we would all starve.  It seems to me that, when it comes to humane slaughter of animals, there are very few clear-cut cases of “acceptable” and “not acceptable”.  Instead, we have a continuum.  Since there does not seem to be any less painful way to slaughter an animal (in the absence of modern technology) than the kosher/halal way, I think this would qualify it as reasonably humane.
What about those who shudder at the thought of blood, and who cannot accept any pain for the animal?  Those people might consider becoming vegetarians.  Here is a test for those who object to kosher/halal slaughter on humanitarian grounds: visit a modern slaughtering facility and watch the entire process – while eating a hamburger.  If this does not bother you, then we can discuss kosher/halal slaughter on a more meaningful level.
As for halal slaughter taking over Europe, the problem is not excessive pain for the animals but rather excessive numbers of Muslims in Europe.  The sooner Europeans learn to recognize the real issue, and debate it honestly, the more hope for their long-term survival as Europeans.

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9 Responses to Kosher and halal

  1. Concerned South African says:

    While I may tend to agree with you on animal cruelty and loss of European identity, there are also many other points that I believe don’t tend to be discussed. These people were not given any choice about whether they did or did not mind eating halaal meat. I find that rather important. Don’t you? Furthermore, many people, such as myself though I am a white South African, don’t want to eat meat that has been blessed in the name of Allah. For I am Christian.
    Also, it is fundamental that there is at least a starting point when it comes to halting Islam in the West, and this just might be a good place to begin. Disagreements over an halaal diet being forced on Europeans may just get enough support among whites that certain other topics, considered un-PC, might just have to be debated.
    To me, the point really shouldn’t be about whether the animal died a cruel or inhumane death, but more about the choice. I don’t want to eat halaal meat and I shouldn’t have to. That is it.

    • jewamongyou says:

      Oh yes, absolutely. I should have made it clear that people should not be forced to eat halal, nor should they have it fed to them without their knowledge or consent. Good points.

  2. fred says:

    Here is a test for those who object to kosher/halal slaughter on humanitarian grounds: visit a modern slaughtering facility and watch the entire process – while eating a hamburger. If this does not bother you, then we can discuss kosher/halal slaughter on a more meaningful level.
    I’ve been in meatpacking plants. It wouldn’t have bothered me to eat in one but I just didn’t think it was sanitary. Workers handle the raw meat and then handle equipment, door knobs, etc. When you touch them it gets on your hands, too.
    I’ve helped my dad butcher animals since I was 3. With poultry we always used an axe. With other small animals like rabbits we cut their head off with a sharp knife. The method was essentially kosher though that’s not why we did it that way. With larger animals we just shot them in the head with a 22 and then hung them up. That’s not kosher but its probably a little quicker and less painful. That’s why we did it that way. But I don’t see any humanitarian issues with kosher. I don’t see any problem with a bolt or sledge either.
    In general, people shouldn’t have religious views / customs forced upon them. So in this regard those who prefer kosher or halal certainly shouldn’t be prohibited from it. By the same token, kosher and halal shouldn’t be forced upon others. To do so would be like forcing someone to eat bacon. It won’t hurt them but it’s not nice. I think animal cruelty is different because harm is actually done.

  3. Annoyed says:

    I agree with the general premise that it is absurd they are protesting over Halal meat taking over instead of saying the obvious/what they are really thinking.
    I disagree with the idea that you should respect other cultures and people regardless of what they do.
    I believe in moral superiority and that if something violates your moral compass you should respond appropriately. In this sense I am an imperialist.
    I do believe in rather stringent animal protection laws and frankly I don’t care if it violates someones religion or cultural heritage anymore then I care if preventing rape does so.
    On a side note, if Kosher slaughter was designed the way you have described in your post, why can it not be improved upon?
    This is a major problem I have with religious doctrines: they are static and can not respond to technological improvements and other social changes.

    • jewamongyou says:

      I guess I was not in top form while writing this post; apparently I was not clear on a couple of things. Sorry about that.
      I agree with you that there is absolute right and wrong. What I am trying to say here is that there is nothing wrong with slaughtering an animal by slitting its throat. This is not excessive cruelty.
      The reason Judaism cannot improve upon ritual slaughter is that, although our traditional method is relatively humane, there is no set rational for the method; it is considered of divine origin and cannot be changed – as you said. If the only goal were to minimize pain to the animal, and the Torah said “thou shalt minimize pain to the animal”, then we could improve upon it. Another rational for ritual slaughter, and kosher in general, is that it helps keep Jews apart from gentiles. It was instrumental in the survival of the Jewish people. In this sense, otherwise irrational rituals take on a whole new meaning.

  4. Pingback: Kosher Makes Sense « Thoughts of an Errant Mind

  5. Joseph says:

    You said the Jewish and Muslim methods of slaughter can’t be changed without modern technology. Modern technology is available. More humane slaughter of animals could be carried out except for Mid-Eastern supersitions.

    • jewamongyou says:

      Yes, we could be “more humane” by adopting modern technology. But we could be even more humane by becoming vegetarians. Who’s to decide at what point we are humane enough?

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