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Halal Interpretations Vary

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We've discovered the delights of Moroccan tagine dishes - spicy casseroles steaming in ceramic pots. The restaurant that served them to us was a real find, I thought. Until, as we left, my partner said, "Hey, that meat you ate was Halal."

I hadn't thought about it. So I asked myself, "what do I think about that? Doesn't Halal mean that the animal was bled out and suffered pain? Should I feel bad?"

Cue the squeaking sound of liberal hands being wrung.

But not for long. We've been back to that restaurant and guiltlessly savoured its delicious tagines.

Halal slaughter of animals, you see, is deemed humane by New Zealand's government animal welfare body.

Yes, the Muslim slaughterman must kill the beast with a fast, deep cut to its throat, and say a prayer as he does so. But that beast, first, was stunned; it doesn't feel the pain of the cut and it's not conscious as the blood leaves its body.

Both the religious rule and the secular ethical requirement are fulfilled. If you've made peace with the idea of eating animal meat, then you shouldn't be troubled further by eating meat slaughtered according to Muslim law - at least in New Zealand.

Not so, I discovered this week, with the slaughter rules of Judaism.
Animals do have rights. We pen them, jam them into trucks, and send them reeling towards a meatworker with a big knife. But we know those animals feel pain, so the least we can do is try to remove that pain.

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