Britain's top veterinarian has recommended reforming Jewish and Islamic ritual slaughter to make it more humane, saying a total ban on the current method may not be far off.
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John Blackwell, president-elect of the British Veterinary Association, told the Times of London that kosher and halal slaughter leads animals to suffer unnecessarily.
"I don't think an outright ban is a long way off, there is enough of a view that this practice is inhumane and causes suffering at the time of death," Blackwell told the Guardian.
Traditionally, religious slaughter practices involve slitting the animal's throat and draining the blood, which he has said results in "five or six seconds" of pain for the animal.
"They will feel the cut," he told the Times. "They will feel the massive injury of the tissues of the neck. They will perceive the aspiration of blood they will breathe in before they lose consciousness."
Blackwell said he wants to discuss ritual slaughter with Jewish and Muslim groups to find a compromise, and suggested stunning the animals first so they are unconscious before being slaughtered.
He also emphasized that his recommendation "is not an attack on religious faith." Rather, it is "a view that we have taken on animal welfare," he told the Guardian.
Blackwell added there were likely to be "sensitivities surrounding the issue," but said that discussing the issue was better than relying on "beliefs handed down hundreds of years ago, that may have been true at the time."
He also told the Times that Britain could take a cue from Denmark, which bans the slaughter of animals that aren't stunned prior to being killed.
"The Danish unilateral banning [was done] purely for animal welfare reasons, which is right," Blackwell said. "We may well have to go down that route."