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Today in #middleclassproblems: worrying how your lamb was killed

8 May 2014

4:06 PM

8 May 2014

4:06 PM

It doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. At least not very much. The notion, apparently scandalous, that the Great British food market is being contaminated – sorry, infiltrated – by meat slaughtered according to traditional religious practices is the most #MiddleClassProblem of the year.

I mean, you know it’s serious when Waitrose is in the dock. Waitrose!

Now I can see that there is a case for requiring meat slaughtered without the animal being stunned to be labelled as such. But, as Melanie McDonagh concedes, the proportion of livestock slaughtered in this fashion is tiny. Perhaps 10% of sheep but only 3% of cattle and 4% of poultry. A reasonable person might conclude that the attention devoted to this newly-discovered problem is as hysterical as it is disproportionate.

As food scandals go, this one is not much of a scandal. We are arguing, with great seriousness, about whether all animals should be tasered before their throats are cut or if only 95% of them should be treated thus.

Abattoirs are not pleasant places. Doubtless being loaded, transported and placed in a queue for execution “stresses” livestock. It is hard to see how this stress can be eliminated entirely even if you insist all animals are stunned before slaughter.

But, you say, we should do what we can, where we can. Perhaps so. It may also be the case that future generations will look upon the way we farm and consider it evidence of a backwardness verging on the barbaric.

Maybe. And yet it still strikes me as curious that we endure a brouhaha over an animal’s last sentient seconds while still tolerating some farming practices that are plainly much, much, much more unpleasant than anything that happens in an abattoir.

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True, animal welfare standards are better in Britain than in many, perhaps even most, other developed countries. Eating in the United States, for instance, can be a mournful, depressing business. Until I lived there it had not occurred to me that restaurants would feel the need to label their beef “grass-fed”. In my innocence I had assumed grass was what cows tend to eat.

But even here, in the UK, we comfort ourselves with packaging and marketing designed to salve angst-ridden consciences. Free-range sounds so natural and healthy, doesn’t it? Except the regulatory definition of free-range is very different from your idea of free-range. 16,000 chickens in a shed with barely any access to natural light or the “great” outdoors is free-range in only the most limited, technical sense.

That’s for egg production. What about chickens reared for their meat? DEFRA regulations limit stocking density to 34kg of chicken per square metre. Which works out at about a dozen birds per square metre. But don’t worry! You see:

Irrespective of the type of system, all chickens should have sufficient freedom of movement to be able, without difficulty, to stand normally, turn around and stretch their wings. They should also have sufficient space to be able to sit without interference from other birds.

Well that’s ticketyboo, ain’t it. They should be able to turn around! These are the conditions in which most of the poultry you likely eat is raised.

And it’s not just chickens either. Britain may have banned the use of gestation crates in pig production but pig raising is still an industrial business. It may be more “humane” in Britain than some other countries (whose pork you will probably eat too, by the way) but it’s not done in any kind of porcine paradise.

After all, since 2013 each sow must, according to the regulations, enjoy a minimum of 2.25 square metres of space, of which 1.3 square metres must be “of continuous solid floor”. In other words, we have banned very close confinement but most pigs still live in really rather close confinement.

All those happy chooks and swine on the TV adverts? Mostly a marketing exercise in customer reassurance. Life for most livestock is not an episode of Countryfile.

And, remember, Britain has some of the world’s highest animal welfare standards. Which is a good thing. But it doesn’t mean those standards are necessarily terribly high.

We’re all  – or almost all of those of us who are carnivores – complicit in this and few of us, even those of us who like to think we care about “sourcing” (the new word for “purchasing”) good quality meat, are entirely consistent in these matters.

But unless we wean ourselves off the notion that meat should be cheap then the final second of an animal’s life seems much less important than the life it has led until the moment at which it meets its maker.

By all means crank up the Outrage Machine and denounce religious slaughtering practices but please let’s not forget it is really a very minor part of a much greater issue.

 

 

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Show comments
  • http://www.dpstreaming.fr walid mouzouri

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  • Dogsnob

    What matters is that the imposition of Halal on the non-muslim populace of Britain, is recognised as just one more way that our nation is being changed against our will and with the full agreement of our authorities.
    Who asked for this?

  • Chris

    What about Sikhs, who should not eat Halal? Or is their offence worth less because it tends not to lead to violence and people ending up in police protection?

  • evad666

    Of course it doesn’t matter, like stealing young girls and prostituting them. When will the press wake up to the real threat the internal 5th column and its state sanctioned excesses.

  • Liz

    Another person who has bought the totally deceitful line about most Halal being pre-stunned. THE STUNNING IS NOT THE SAME. THE ANIMAL REMAINS CONSCIOUS.

  • Bill_der_Berg

    Muslims have their own worries. Why do people saddle themselves with these ridiculous beliefs?.

    “Growing up in a Muslim household, I was told dogs were dirty – their saliva was unclean and the angels would not visit any house with a dog for that reason”. (From an article in the Guardian).

  • Blindsideflanker

    I love the way Muslims, like a reporter for the Huffington post , has turned the majority objecting to being force fed Islamic ritually killed meat as Islamophobic. It now seems the imposed upon, the injured party, cannot object to Islamic rules without being called Islamophobic.

    This shows the way Islam flicks between intolerance and a persecution complex within the same issue. If we object to their dominance it kicks off their persecution complex, and they claim we are Islamopohobic. They require us to buckle under and not object to the Dhimmi role they think we should occupy.

    • vaguely

      Nobody has been force-fed anything.

      • SmellyFingers

        Halal meat secretly put on the non-blessed meat and ready meal shelves of our supermarkets isn’t force feeding but it’s still bad and shouldn’t be happening.

  • Kaine

    I think I might leave off the bacon sandwich this morning and have some crumpets.

  • vaguely

    Ah, an in come piling the poor darling lamby wammikins who can’t get their little bonces around the fact that, apart from the prayer-woo, the slaughter methods whether halal or kosher, were designed to ensure the meat is fit to eat and won’t…. you know…kill anyone.
    Anyway, good article and all fair points – but the real problem isn’t the middle classes fussing over animal rights, but the EDL-type underclasses using halal as the latest in a long line of convenient substitutes when they know no-one would listen if they said what they really wanted to say: “pakis”.

    • GraveDave

      So why has Subway taken bacon and ham off the menu?
      Well, so we can all hate Muslims , I suppose.

      • vaguely

        It has done so in fewer that 200 of 1,400 stores (and has done since 2007). Whoever heard of a sandwich shop realising that it could make more money by catering to the needs of its local market, eh? What an utterly shameful display by capitalist pig dogs!
        Why do you want to interfere with the free market?

        • GraveDave

          Because being a business you are supposed to cater for ALL the community.- well that’s what I keep hearing anyway.

    • John Court

      The methods were designed before bolt guns and chillers existed. They are as inappropriate and primitive as forced marriage. The “underclass” may be easy for you to look down your nose on, but it doesn’t stop them being onto something. Maybe one of them lost his job at the abbatoir when they lost the contract to a halal abbatoir staffed by Pakistanis.

      • vaguely

        Yeah, and maybe a lot of noble British shopkeepers lost their jobs to all those Patels who insisted on working every however god sends.
        This son of a truck driver doesn’t look down his nose at anyone, but that doesn’t a stop him knowing a racist scumbag when he sees one. Which part of Subway, Tesco et all stating that their meat is pre-stunned is too difficult to grasp?

        • allymax bruce

          ‘Racism’; only another politically contrived veil, to mask the underhand #EliteClass brainwashing of Scoiety.

          • vaguely

            You know you can get medication to control that level of paranoia, right?

            • allymax bruce

              Another sleight; haven’t you got anything sensible to say?
              btw, paranoia is a Natural Primary Defense Mechanism; everybody is paranoid to a degree. It’s a Normal facet to Survival.
              My question to you is, why would you veer straight to insulting accusing sleights?
              What are you hiding from us, but more importantly, yourself?

              • vaguely

                Calm yourself. They’re not actually out to get you, you know. Also, learn when, and when not, to capitalise.

      • allymax bruce

        or, was refused a bottle of plonk by an ethnic minority in M & S.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          Well, I think you’ve had quite enough, haven’t you?

    • saffrin

      Hmm, Pakis, that reminds me of 7/7, 9/11, systemic child rape, daughter murders, wife beaters…
      Pretty much scum of the earth types.

      • vaguely

        It’s almost as if you want to make my point for me. Well done!

        • saffrin

          What, the fact that you are an idiot?

          “lamby wammikins”
          How old are you, five, ten?

          • vaguely

            I wish! I just don’t feel the need to treat racists with respect.

            • saffrin

              I feel the same about pakis.

  • Martin Jennerson

    If you think it doesn’t matter, then why not go and tell Muslims and Jews that, and then they can stop insisting on Halal and the whole thing will go away. Oh that’s right, because what we’re actually talking about is a inter-ethnic culture war thing, and you’re somehow conspiring to miss that point. As you are delusional in your belief that your stupid drivel somehow contributes to quelling tensions among the masses. In fact it’s useless drivel. Total moron.

  • the viceroy’s gin

    Another skipper, lad… couldn’t even make it past the title, again.

    Does trolling pay well?

    • laurence

      ‘Another skipper’: couldn’t agree more. By way of contrast, Massie Snr. is an interesting, worthwhile writer.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        I can’t pass judgement on pere, but the spawn is nearly unreadable.

    • Keith D

      I’m done with this absolute fuckwit. Never again am I opening an article by him.
      I’m saddened I share his nationality.

  • IfItPleasethThee

    Problem more with political signalling. Don’t like immigration? Express that opinion as much as you like through the democratic process. Go ahead. But don’t expect to get anywhere, because your view is “inconsistent with democratic values” or some other such vacuous assertion. But what if you kill large numbers of people in exceptionally unpleasant ways? Well, in that case, what is it that you want? Assuming that diversity, tolerance and openness are good things (which I generally do in spite of the attempts of leftists to persuade me otherwise) just perhaps this is not the best way to go about achieving them.

    • Kaine

      The Guardian has had columns from David Cameron, most recently talking about Christianity. In fact a brief search finds 106 articles which are either written by him for the publication or are direct transcripts.

      Cue ‘witty’ comments about the elected leader of the Conservatives not be a real Conservative.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …well, he’s not a conservative, certainly. Even the muppet himself would admit that.

  • Raw England

    Who really gives that much of a fuck about the Animal Rights side to this situation?

    The issue is Muslims forcing, by indirect/direct intimidation and manipulation, their foreign culture upon British people.

    They’ve infiltrated our schools, taken over entire towns, destroyed our free speech, brought terrorism, and now we find out we’ve been eating meat prepared in accordance with fucking Islam.

    And all this when they’re around 10% of the population. What do you think will happen when they make up 30% of the population, and 40%, 50%?

    • vaguely

      When did you first start having paranoid fantasies?

      • Keith D

        Do crawl back under your rock Mohammed. You’ll find it in a desert somewhere.

        • vaguely

          You seem to be having anger management issues. You should see a shrink.

          • Keith D

            Your opinion has no value to me.
            Thanks for playing though.

      • Alexsandr

        why cant the food be labelled as halal. then those who don’t want this can shun it?
        or I could eat pork. Bacon, pork pies, pork chops, gammon, honey roast ham. Mmmmmm. whats not to like there.

      • anotherjoeblogs

        well, doctor it all started in a cave some 1400 years ago or so,near mecca, it was. Suddenly I was visited by an angel and well…after the visitation.. the fun began like you know warra mean ? ( eyes roll and a mad laughter erupts )

  • andagain

    The people objecting couldn’t care less about the welfare of the animal. They object to it because Muslims want it. If it was a Mormon rite, they wouldn’t be able to care less about it.

    • Des Demona

      ”The people” is a big generalisation. I object because I don’t want or see the need for the food I eat to be subject to the whims of any religious nut-job, whatever their persuasion.

      • andagain

        You should be far more outraged by being forced to go on holiday at Christmas and Easter. That really is forcing them to do something.

        And what form of animal slaughter exactly do your atheistic principles require?

        • Des Demona

          I’m not forced to do that. I’m self employed. In any event what has that got to with some religious johnny surreptitiously interfering with the food I eat without my knowledge or consent?
          As I /said, if they want to worship something that’s fine. But why should I have to be involved in their superstitious shenanigans?

          • andagain

            You object to eating of the flesh of an animal that has been killed by having its throat slit with a sharp knife? Why?

            Or do you just object to the thought of eating something that a Muslim is allowed to eat?

            • Des Demona

              You clearly haven’t read, addressed or understood my point. Probably intentionally given the inanity of your reply.

              • andagain

                I take it that you don’t object to the method of slaughter then. You just dislike the fact that this method is approved of by Muslims. I assume you do not object to, eg Christmas because that is approved of by Christians.

                So it is not that you denounce things connected with some religion or other, you just denounce things connected with Islam.

                • Des Demona

                  Again, you clearly haven’t read my posts. I’ve already mentioned my attitude to Christmas and the difference in the two different subjects. I’ve also said I would equally object to animals being given the last rites by a priest.
                  Do you have some sort of mental blockage that makes you insist everything is to do with a dislike of Islam in particular? Or are you just playing the victim?

    • GraveDave

      Am I one of those people then? Do you know ME?

      • andagain

        I apologise. I should have said: “The vast majority of people complaining about it”. But I thought that was too pedantic to bother about.

        • GraveDave

          That’s fair enough.

  • cartimandua

    It does matter. It never fails to amaze me that Massie can be so wrong about absolutely everything.
    I know farmers and they do treat their animals with care and respect.

  • Adam Carter

    It matters because it’s a concession to the Dark Ages Desert Death Cult. I never want to knowingly offer any concessions to that cult.
    We have been deceived, not by being given wrong information but by having relevant information deliberately witheld.

    • Kaine

      “the Dark Ages Desert Death Cult”

      Which one? There were at least three big ones last I checked, not counting their splinter groups.

      • Adam Carter

        I’m assuming you mean Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
        I don’t know much about Judaism but I do know about the major teachings of Christianity and Islam.
        To equate the teachings of Jesus Christ to those of Mohammad is absurd.
        Whatever corruptions there have been through the church over different centuries, they have been corruptions. The preachings of Mohammad are vile at their core; the preachings of Jeasus Christ are not.
        There is no equivalence.

        • allymax bruce

          Adam, that’s an intresting comment; I would like to argue, that Christianity, as it is practiced & perceived per-se, is not what Jesus would be preaching neither.
          I’m Scots, (although terregles2 would say I’m not), and I know as a litle boy, I’d go to my Prebyterian church on Sunday morning, then I’d take my auld Granny Bruce tae her Catholic church in the evening; Iit always struck me it was a ceremonial oompah from both. When I began reading the Bible for myself, I realsied none of what my wee-laddie Scottish church days had much relevance to the main, core, and fundamental preachings of Jesus; especially the dogmatic observances to old testament, (which are not what Jesus taught).
          I forgave terregles2, immediately for her sleight, but I’m wondering if her Scottish cringe is another Light-moment of realisation for me.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            You make the mistake of speaking for all of Christianity, based upon your own experience. You’ll find the Christianity spreading througout the world, and even re-expanding where it’s previously gone fallow, isn’t expanding by following the limited examples you’ve experienced. Look elsewhere for that.

        • Kaine

          The teachings are irrelevant. It’s a Middle Eastern cult based on a blood sacrifice. Heck, it even uses a Phoenician torture device as it’s symbol.

          And we remember the good bits of Jesus because, well, they’re the good bits. We choose to ignore the less kind verses, like Matthew 10:34-37.

      • Keith D

        Good grief man. Theres only one has evil at its core.

        • Kaine

          Have you actually read the Old Testament?

          And before you claim that’s irrelevant for Christians, Matthew 5:17-20 puts pay to that particular idea.

          • Keith D

            Give me a break. I know what it says yet still decline to murder my hosts and saw anyones head off. Bit dhimmi arent we?
            Stay out of my corner please.

            • Kaine

              So you don’t follow the law and the prophets? Well then you’re not really a Christian are you? It’s cute you know one word of Arabic though.

              Actually I have the consistency to reject all the Abrahamic nonsense.

              And I’ll stand in whichever corner I want darling.

  • edlancey

    Another #beyondparody article from a complete idiot.

  • Luke

    Accurate labelling: “This lamb was ripped from its mothers’ breasts at a tender age, crammed on lorry with hundred of other lambs shitting themselves with terror…”

    The last thing I want is an accurate description of my lunch’s last hours.

    • John Court

      If it is too much for you perhaps you could have a cheese sandwich or a plain salad. If you eat lamb then that’s what you put the animal through.

  • Jambo25

    Actually, it does matter. I’m a fairly moderate Church of Scotland member and I do not want to eat food killed according to some other faith’s religious rites. If I go and have a meal at the house of a Muslim or Jewish friend I will, of course, happily eat Halal or Kosher food out of friendship and consideration. I do not want supermarket chains deciding my religious habits or behaviour for me, however.

    • IfItPleasethThee

      Yes, that’s important, it’s a total mistake to assume that other faiths don’t have diet rules.

  • saffrin

    The debate is about the long running conspiracy to sell to an unknowing public meat slaughtered in inhumane ways simply to facilitate a minority, along with governments that have conspired to ignore laws for several decades in order to facilitate the same.

    • vaguely

      No, it’s about the paranoid fantasies of racists.

      • Alexsandr

        how can you be so wrong. Not liking another’s beliefs is not racist. racism is hatred because of colour of skin or some other physical characteristic.
        Bear in mind some other religions are not exactly noted for their tolerance are they?

        • vaguely

          So jews couldn’t be the victims of racism because they are the same colour as whites then! The things you learn! Is it their big noses?

          • Alexsandr

            Definition of race:-
            a.
            an arbitrary classification of modern humans, sometimes, especially formerly, based on any or a combination of various physical characteristics, as skin color, facial form, or eye shape, and now frequently based on such genetic markers as blood groups.
            b.
            a human population partially isolated reproductively from other populations, whose members share a greater degree of physical and genetic similarity with one another than with other humans.

            I am not saying prejudice against jews is good, just saying its religious intolerance or xenophobia, not racism.

            • vaguely

              Well. My days of taking you seriously are no nearer a start.

              • the viceroy’s gin

                Likewise, lad.

      • saffrin

        Idiot.

        • vaguely

          But enough about you.

      • DazEng

        So…Sweden, Norway, Denmark are all racist countries now?
        This HAS been an issue all over the internet for years that the media have ignored so don’t try to pretend it’s only a recent thing.
        Also, TRUE Halal meat MUST be slaughtered by a Muslim despite what taqqiya you might here (if you know what that means), so I assume you are also for discrimination in the workplace?

  • John Court

    Vegetarians can easily take the high ground here but it does get sticky for the rest of us. I don’t think Alex should be making light of it. Killing animals is unpleasant, and many people delude themselves that they aren’t accountable because they aren’t pulling the trigger and are instead buying kebabs or picking up plastic bags. This is nonsense. If you are buying meat you might as well be pulling the trigger of the bolt gun or slashing a conscious animal’s throat and letting it bleed out. The most indefensible group are the halal-meat-eating animal rights crowd who are too squeamish to get their own hands dirty. I shoot and instantly kill the vast majority of the time – if I don’t that’s on my conscience and I am personally responsible for it. If I buy meat I think it’s important that I know how it was killed, because ultimately I’m responsible for it.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Yes, a hunter sees the ethical importance of a swift kill, as the preferred method, and it should be preferred for agricultural livestock as well.

    • Kaine

      I always found it bizarre in the covered market in Oxford the people who would avoid the butcher’s shop where various seasonal game was being hung up. Pretty sure the pheasant hanging there had a better life than any cling-film wrapped chicken in Sainsburys.

    • Marcus William Hunt

      I think if anyone eats meat, especially halal meat, they are by definition not a part of the animal rights crowd.

  • ADW

    Your argument comes down to saying “since it isn’t many, it doesn’t matter” and “there are worse offences”. This is true of just about every crime imaginable. It was true of MPs expenses, for example. But it’s a pretty weak argument. You have just offered it up, I suspect, as click bait; in the hope of continuing your stance as the Speccie’s in-house loony lefty Islamopologist hypocrite (and, to be fair, there aren’t many other reasons to read your blogs).

    Some of us agree with Halal and Kosher, some of us do not. It isn’t much to ask that food is labelled accordingly. I wouldn’t have thought anyone on any side of the equation would disagree with that.

    • vaguely

      Well, no – his argument comes down to a warped sense of priorities fuelled by the hate-fuells pigs at the Mail

      • ADW

        What does the Mail have to do with him? He could ignore hate from anyone and everyone and just try some reasoned arguments, rather than lecture everyone about the wonders of diversity, whilst himself living in one of the least diverse areas of the country, which tests everyone’s patience, and rightly so. As Abraham Lincoln said about slavery, if it’s such a good thing, why does no-one actually want to be one? Similarly, if Massie likes diversity, what’s he doing in rural Scotland?

        • vaguely

          If you are blind to the way the Mail has fuelled this non-scandal, then you really haven’t been paying attention.

          • Alexsandr

            it is a scandal. Cutting the throat of an unstunned animal is cruel.
            And like Keith D above, I don’t want my food ranted over by some god botherer.
            Un-stunned slaughter should be illegal and if food has been subject to any ritual, that should be on the label.

      • Keith D

        I wont eat anything that has had a prayer offered to a cruel god during its slaughter thanks.
        Calls people pigs and says they are hate filled, badly.
        Dont do irony do you Mohammed?

        • vaguely

          One of the things I learned long ago is that I have absolutely no obligation to be nice to idiots.

          • Keith D

            Be kind to yourself

    • Realpolitik/ fruitcake/ racist

      MASSIE SHOULD BE PUT OUT TO GRASS- HIMSELF

  • Des Demona

    I object to being forced to eat meat that’s been mumbo jumboed over in some superstitious religious claptrap. What right has anyone to force their religious beliefs on to my nosh?

    • Blindsideflanker

      Don’t you know that dogs are considered unclean by Muslims, and by including a dog analogy with Muslims will be considered hate speech?

      Expect a call from the hate speech police any time soon.

  • Frank

    I agree with you. I buy animals that have been genuinely free range and fed decent food. I avoid all other kinds (my little insignificant customer choice – but one that I can make because I am given the information). I do however object to being made to buy halal slaughtered meat without being given the information. This is apparently driven by the wish to save money when slaughtering animals – halal apparently being cheaper (mind you, it could be horse so who knows what is in our meat packs let alone how is it killed). The sad thing is that our esteemed PM Cameron doesn’t think that firms should be compelled to tell customers how their meat was slaughtered. Ah well, he wasn’t going to get my vote before, and even less chance now.

  • zanzamander

    That is why (and being a vegetarian) I’ve always said this argument on the ground of the method of slaughter is spurious. There is no easy way for the animal to die and if you’re for animal welfare (as I am) than the only logical thing you can do is stop eating meat.

    • Ron Todd

      Either way they die quicker than the Americans can do an execution.

  • mitate

    you know it matters, and matters a lot, but you’ve become the ultimate contrarian.
    perhaps you’re starting to feel that your days on the speccie might be numbered, so have adopted a “what have i to lose” policy. whatever it is, it’s adhering you to very few. as my old english master used to say: think on, lad!

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