BY LUKE DARBY
On the first day of 2019, a new ban on kosher and halal meat went into effect in Belgium. Specifically, the law bans the slaughter of an animal without stunning it first so that it is unable to feel pain. Usually this is done with an electric shock, or a blow to the head, or that thing Javier Bardem dragged around in No Country for Old Men. On paper, it’s supposed to protect animals from inhumane slaughter.
Among other stipulations, under kosher and halal requirements an animal has to be in perfect health before it’s killed, which precludes stunning methods. However, they’re required to be slaughtered with an extremely sharp knife in a single, deep cut to the throat. According to proponents, it results in a faster, more painless death than non-kosher or -halal slaughtering. “This ban is presented as a revelation by animal rights activists,” Saatci Bayram, a leader of the Muslim community in Belgium, told the New York Times, “but the debate on animal welfare in Islam has been going on for 1,500 years. Our way of ritual slaughtering is painless.”