The British public was no doubt horrified to see Animal Aid's latest investigation into a halal slaughterhouse in Yorkshire, which shows workers hack at and saw through animals' throats, among other abuses. And so they should be. The way the sheep were treated - being pinned down, kicked, stepped on, threatened with knives and lifted up by their ears and fleece - is the stuff of nightmares. But this should be a wake-up call: there is simply no way to kill animals for food humanely. The sheer number of animals required to feed society's current meat habit makes individual attention to their wants and needs impossible.
PETA and its affiliates have taken undercover footage around the world showing frightened animals who are sexually abused, tormented, and mocked in their final moments. Investigations in the UK have documented deliberate and illegal violence, including kicking animals in the face, slapping them, stamped on them, picking them up by their skin and forcibly throwing them into walls. Even at so-called “organic” abattoirs, video evidence has shown pigs who were viciously beaten and kicked by slaughterhouse staff. It's a grim business.
Gruesome as the footage is, the actual slaughter, in which millions of animals are improperly stunned and then killed, is only part of the long and blatantly cruel process of modern meat production. The vast majority of the 1 billion animals eaten every year in the UK are raised on crowded factory farms, where they are crammed by the thousands into windowless sheds, wire cages, crates and other confinement systems and denied everything that matters to them - all of which contradicts the basic principles of compassion and reverence for life shared by most religions.
The solution to ending these abuses is not simply to decry and avoid halal meat - it's to avoid all meat. Because when it comes to showing respect for animals who are raised and killed for food, there is only one label that really matters: “vegan”.