As a vegan Muslim, Lancashire's move to ban halal meat is misguided and divisive

Tories are hardly champions for animal rights

Nadia Javed
Saturday 28 October 2017 17:10 BST
I switched to veganism due to concerns about my health, the environment and animal cruelty
I switched to veganism due to concerns about my health, the environment and animal cruelty (PA)

This week Lancashire County Council banned “unstunned” (halal) meat from schools. Is there a problem with meat or with Muslims?

Whichever way you look at it, meat is murder, and this looks like selective condemnation. And don’t get me started on the dairy industry.

Scrapping halal meat will not only reinforce prejudice against Muslims with its subliminal Islamaphobic message but it could also play a part in inciting even more division amongst our communities. As if the ugly Brexit fall-out, Donald Trump’s so-called Muslim ban and the ensuing rise in hate crimes weren’t enough for us to deal with.

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The proposal was brought about by the Conservative council leader Geoff Driver who said it was “abhorrent” and “really cruel” to slaughter animals without stunning them first. These are the same Conservatives who wanted to repeal the fox-hunting ban. Excuse the pun but it stuns me how quickly the Tories can become the champions for animal rights. A different set of rules seems to apply to rich white people in Barbour jackets who consider ripping foxes to pieces as a sport.

The argument against halal is that animals suffer more pain during a ritual slaughter than being stunned to death. Halal, meaning “permissible”, involves slaughtering animals with one clean cut across the jugular vein, carotid artery and windpipe whilst the animal is alive. According to the Food Standards Agency, about 90 per cent of animals are stunned before being killed. So it’s unclear as to whether animals killed for halal meat are always stunned. And if this is the case then why even bother banning Halal meat?

If we are so concerned about the way animals are treated when slaughtered then we should look to change the horrifically crammed, diseased conditions animals endure whilst being fattened up on factory farms. Cows are artificially inseminated and dosed up on hormones to produce more milk. Calves are ripped away from their mothers at birth. It’s beyond time to look to other sources to gain calcium and protein.

In the light of extreme injustices towards the treatment of farmed animals more and more people, including Muslims, are now turning to veganism.

There is no direct link between Islam and veganism. Islam does not condemn eating animals, however, it considers abuse of animals as “haram” (forbidden) and states that it is our responsibility to treat animals with compassion. As a vegan Muslim, my diet does not contribute to animal cruelty or the destruction of the environment. And many kinds of meat are not even that healthy. There is a reason that athletes such as Serena Williams are switching to a plant-based diet.

It’s also important to recognise the detrimental effects of meat farming on our planet. The raising of livestock produces more greenhouse gases than the emissions of the entire transportation sector, for example.

Veganism is a fast-growing market – no need to trek across London to Whole Foods. Now Sainsbury’s and Tesco stock vegan necessities like cheese, ice cream, chocolate, meat substitutes and different types of tofu.

It’s also time to end this high-protein, low-carb fad. The boys at the gym may be pumping their muscles, but perhaps we should tell them that they stink of kebabs and they treat their bodies like graveyards for dead animals with constant meals of “lean chicken”.

Rather than just focusing on the killing of animals, maybe we should concentrate on their whole lifecycle and the long-term damaging effects livestock is having on our planet.

Banning halal meat isn’t saving animals or the world – it’s just causing yet more division by singling out Muslims.


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