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updated as of March 20th '05


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excert from Meat.org

Controversy over slaughter of animals still persists by Tom Harpur, Toronto author and broadcaster

School children are taught a number of lies. Tbere's no conscious conspiracy. Often parents and teachers are so brainwashed by the prevailing culture that they're unaware of propagating illusions and falsehoods.

One could cite a list of such lies - such as the ineluctability of human progress or the capacity of our technology to solve all problems. However, my concern is with the lie that meat is an essential part of our diet. Selling this lie involves, as with most lies, other lies to land support.

The chief ancillary lie in this regard is that livestock are the trusted, loved friends of humankind. Pictures in children's books as well as those adorning the porpaganda of the meat industry show smiling, contented animals frolicking in their delight at being part of the human food chain.

Nowhere is the ugly truth shared that we humans are the only species that cultivates its intended victims as friends right up to the point of killing and devouring them. Nowhere in all the pretty picture books do children see the killing floor, the terminal panic of our "friends" nor the welter of their blood. Not suprisingly, few adults - never mind children - give this matter a thought.

A week ago, I reported on visits to three abattoirs and on the methods of slaughtering used. Before ending this series, I want to describe the kosher method of killing. Bear in mind that while It was an Orthodox Jewish ritual I witnessed, virtually the same method is used by devout Muslims as well as by Christians who eat lambs or young goats at Eastertide.

Wearing a gown and rubber boots because of the water and gore, I watched as a series of veal-calves had their throats cut. There were about 115 of them, mostly young bulls from dairy herds, in a holding pen to our right. Each was led into a metal box about three feet in front of us. The calf naturally thrust Its head out the only "window" in the box and the opening was then constricted so that it could not withdraw.

The rabbi then pushed a button causing a lever to force the calfs head up so as to leave its throat thoroughly exposed. Then, using a razor-sharp knife, about 46 centimeters (18 inches) long by 3.5 centimeters (1 1/2 inches) wide, he made a swift cut from side to side to sever both jugular veins and the two carotid arteries in a single stroke. The head was then raised further as the blood spurted forth. In about five or six seconds - It seemed much longer - the eyes glazed, the side of the box opened to disgorge the twitching corpse, and it was strung up by one leg to finish bleeding.

By law, livestock must be stunned by electric shock, gas, a blow on the head with a sledgehammer, or a shot between the eyes from a spring-loaded bolt before being hung upside down and slaughtered by having their throats slit. In kosher and Islamic slaughter, the animal's throat is cut while it's conscious and unbruised - according to special rules that ensure a quick demise.

There's no doubt that where the cut is done expertly death follows almost instantaneously. The cutting of the carotids means all blood flow to the brain stops. The twitching and kicking I saw in some calves, even after they were suspended, were explained as, "reflex muscular action." However, a federal inspector who stood nearby (with more than 20 years experience) told me he thinks the process is "one of the most inhumane things I have seen in this business."

Another veteran slaughterer there volunteered the same opinion and said that sometimes a calf with its throat cut will get up and dash back into the holding area. It has to be retrieved and shot a with a stun gun, he said. When I expressed skepticism about this, he invited me to stay for the day and watch, I didn't.

Some 3,000 years ago, when kosher killing began, it was more humane than the methods used by other tribes and cultures. Today, I believe, it's an outmoded archaism that should be banned here as it has been in some European countries. I agree with a liberal Toronto rabbi who told me it should go because today it's less humane than the secular method of stunning the animal first. Using gas or electric shock instead of a stun gun would leave the animal unblemished as the rituals require.

Incidentally, since to be kosher or ritually fit to eat an animal must not just be killed in this manner but must then pass a number of strict hygiene tests (as well as its meat being soaked in salt to get rid of all blood), I was told only about 15 per cent of the calves being slaughtered that day would end up as kosher meat. The rest would be sold to regular meat outlets. This also happens in the case of beef. This means that you have no guarantee that the meat you buy (except for pork) has not been killed by the no-stun, throat-slitting method. I never knew this before and find it unacceptable. Packaging should be marked to declare how the animal was slaughtered.

My conclusion after studying the topic of meat, diet and the environment is that one useful thing I can do for the planet as well as myself is to stop eating meat. It's a decision my wife and I made together and feel good about. No matter how livestock are killed, they're in terror when they die. In eating them, are we also consming their fear? Certainly we're sustaining our very lives by bloody violence.

Who knows? Perhaps in 50 years humanity will come to view its eating of animals with the same wonder and distaste we now reserve for cannibalism. I hope so.

well search around this site and you'll find more on this subject, and please see page 8 for a new story we wrote from a futuristic point of view all about the animal holocaust, medical industry, and the FDA....

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