Day 131

“A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” (Proverbs 15:1 NLT)

There has been a flaring of tempers lately. Well according to the newspapers, that is.

The issue is Halal meat. And here is my attempt at a gentle answer.

Some takeaway food shops have been serving Halal chicken in place of non-Halal chicken. Some shops have stopped selling ham and bacon, either removing it from their menu altogether or substituting it with ham flavoured meat.

According to some newspapers this has been done in secret. But that makes no commercial sense and is illegal anyway. All food premises must be able to trace their foodstuffs back to source.

Only a few months ago there was an enormous uproar when it transpired that some of the meat which had been labelled as “beef” was, in fact, horse meat from Europe. The question of traceability was raised and companies were forced to look very closely at their sources.

So any shops which sell food containing meat, eggs, fish or dairy products were obliged to say exactly what it was and where it came from.

So there has been no “secret”. This is simply newspapers using strongly emotive language to fire up opinion.

And what is their opinion? That Halal meat is somehow “wrong”.

Non-Halal meat comes from animals which have been stunned before being slaughtered. Halal meat comes from animals which have been killed with a sharp knife.

In both cases the animal has died to feed humans. This is nothing new. Humans have eaten meat for thousands of centuries.

So what is the real issue? What have the harsh voices been saying?

That our way of life is being eroded by companies which are being “told” which type of meat to sell? Or by companies which are eager to increase profits at the cost of our traditional way of life?

Or… Maybe, just maybe, the origin of the meat is less important than the profit margins. Companies exist to make money. We live in a capitalist society. That, in itself, is not evil.

Why would companies sell Halal meat on their pizzas or sandwiches? Because the majority of customers wouldn’t care what the meat was. It tastes more or less the same anyway. The minority of customers who DO care are likely to be Muslim, for whom the provision of Halal meat means they have a wider choice.

And for the minority of the minority for whom this is an affront to their way of life… We can’t just ignore them, sadly. They are the seeds who will grow into intolerance and ignorance. They need to be educated.

And one or two vocal members of this tiny minority will be standing at the next local election.

Vote for ignorance? Or vote for rooting out these seeds and a future where the method of slaughter isn’t even an issue and the welfare of the animals is more important.

I’m open for discussion…

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