Top British vet: ban halal, kosher if methods inhumane
LONDON - The incoming head of Britain's professional vets body called Thursday for traditional Jewish and Islamic animal slaughter practices to be banned if they cannot adapt to methods deemed more humane.
John Blackwell, president-elect of the British Veterinary Association (BVA), said allowing animals to bleed to death for halal and kosher meat caused unnecessary suffering.
In an interview with The Times newspaper, he urged Muslims and Jews to allow sheep, poultry and cattle to be rendered unconscious before having their throats slit.
If faith groups failed to voluntarily comply, Blackwell wants the British government to consider following Denmark's example and banning the slaughter of animals that are not stunned prior to death.
Blackwell said he respected religious beliefs but "the Danish unilateral banning (was done) purely for animal welfare reasons, which is right.
"We may well have to go down that route.
"It would be more productive if we can have a meeting of minds rather than to say, 'You can't do it'. (Otherwise) a ban may be the only way to move the issue forward.
"One of the Jewish politicians said it demonstrates (that) a continuing undercurrent of anti-Semitism still pervades Europe. That's very emotive, isn't it? That's the difficulty with engagement."
The Times said more than 600,000 animals bleed to death in religious abattoirs in Britain per week, while the halal market was estimated to be worth up to £2 billion ($3.3 billion, 2.4 billion euros).
It said most animals sold as halal in Britain are stunned before slaughter, which Muslim shoppers did not necessarily know.
Blackwell said halal and kosher slaughter resulted in "five or six seconds" of pain for an animal, which was "too long".
"They will feel the cut," he said.
"They will feel the massive injury of the tissues of the neck. They will perceive the aspiration of blood they will breathe in before they lose consciousness."
Blackwell said that it was "one of the most important issues" on the radar of veterinary surgeons.
The BVA, which represents around 14,000 members, has campaigned for years for all animals to be stunned before slaughter.
The 2011 census found that 4.8 percent of the population of England and Wales said their faith was Islam, while 0.5 percent said Judaism.