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The subject of Halal and Kosher meat is headline news once again as UKIP has announced a new policy – to support the BVA and RSPCA in calling for a ban on non-stun slaughter.

I am the UKIP PPC for Stockton North and proud to be Jewish. I am a secular Jew and do not follow the Kosher laws.

In the Jewish religion, the present day Jewish leaders have declared that administering an electric shock to an animal prior to shehitah (Kosher slaughtering) is prohibited, because it incapacitates the animal and renders it a trefah (an animal unfit to eat). And hence the current dilemma.

The rules regarding Kosher meat were adopted during a time when the wrong preparation of food could easily cause illness or death and were, I believe, designed to provide protection.

It could also be possible that the Kosher rules were not to do with safety and were purely developed around religious interpretation. Either way, I don’t think it makes any difference to my arguments below as to whether the rules were for safety, religion or a mix of the two.

My belief is that it is right that an animal should be slaughtered in the most humane way possible. So what does this mean for Kosher laws?

An animal that is stunned by electric shock is rendered temporarily unconscious, or asleep. The animal is not dead, it is not injured and it continues to live totally unharmed at this point. The animal’s heart is still beating and if it were now left alone it would quickly wake up and continue its life unharmed. Surely, one could therefore argue that the animal is not trefah? Electrical stunning did not exist at the time the Kosher laws were established, but the whole spirit of the Kosher laws were designed to prevent the animal from suffering. Would it be so wrong to update the laws to include electrical stunning before slaugher, or it is forbidden for me even to raise this as an issue to be debated?

In conclusion, we are in the 21st century now and have moved a long way forward from whence our ancestors started. They developed rules within the knowledge they had at the time to best help their society move forward. So what I would like to see now is that we continue to move forward and make small but meaningful changes that ensure we continue to develop and integrate with modern British society. Is it such a big change for an animal to be sleeping when slaughtered instead of awake?

6 Responses to Is it time to update Kosher Laws to fit in with Modern Society?

  • Hi, I’m an Atheist member of UKIP and a Chairman of a Branch, Warwick and Leamington. I have just read your bit and can see that clearly a bit of consideration of technology and perhaps a bit of design ingenuity could easily find a solution to this dilemma.

    It also points out that we are struggling as a party to consult on these sort of issues enough before a proclamation comes flying out of HO. I do personally despair as I joined UKIP to get us out of Europe, not to get dragged into angry and torrid discussions over religion. I can quite safely say I have had to discuss religion on FB more in the three years I’ve been in UKIP than I had in the entirety of the rest of my life. And, I actually did R.E. for ‘O’ Level!
    Tim Griffiths
    Chairman
    UKIP Warwick and Leamington.

  • I totally agree Mandy. Animal welfare is very high up on a great many people’s agenda and UKIP should recognise this and support stunning before slaughter. The introduction of a stricter Code of Conduct regarding the operatives behaviour should also be introduced, as there have been some very disturbing undercover videos posted on-line, whereby the operatives treat the animals with the utmost contempt to the point of sadism in my view.

    We should recommend the introduction of unannounced inspectors who have the power to remove operatives not abiding with such code with immediate effect. Their replacements should be trained to the highest level of animal welfare and if a second incidence occurs, the premises should be temporarily shut down, until the inspectors are satisfied that sufficiently trained staff are in place.

    You can see this is something I feel very strongly about, but I know I am not alone by the reaction of others to my posts on this subject elsewhere on Facebook.

    Kind regards
    Patrick Iredale

    PS. Love your new staircase!

  • Thank you, a common sense approach to slaughter. Stunning is legally required. Now we are being subject to most meat in hospitals and schools being halal. This is against all common sense and cruelty.

  • The least we humans can do for animals, is to respect them, and give them as pain free death as possible by stunning them first, after all the animal is dying for you!

  • This may not be a problem for secular Jews, but it is a problem for observant Jews. Please go look at the Schechita UK FAQ for an alternative view. Stunning is part of the act and the whole process and practice is designed to avoid suffering. There is a pervasive agenda that the practice is bad, or at its most “generous”, not as good as secular methods. This agenda is misinformed. BTW, I’m a gentile, in the interests of full disclosure. The problem is that it would prevent observant Jews from living here. If the agenda is factually at least suspect and the impact of a ban so huge, then I start to smell antisemitism.

  • My personal view is that any method of obtaining food from a living body should be done in the most humane way possible; if that includes the practice of stunning before death, then so be it; regardless of religious tradition. In my experience, and past studies of religious thought, both present and past, most religions use inhumane practices toward animals, as well as humans, for whatever tradition that calls for cleansing.
    Therefore, I feel that the practice of stunning should be law.
    That is not anti-Semitism, it is just plain humane.

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Mandy Boylett
Mandy Boylett
My politics is like my dress sense. I'm all for coming out.