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Australian Live Export ~ A letter from Jeff Perz of the Alice Springs Vegan Society

Extremely graphic images of halal cow slaughter in Indonesia have recently been shown on National TV in Australia, and there has been a giant public outcry to ban the live export of cows to Indonesia. This news report was presented as a regulationist single issue campaign, and was probably planed to be part of a RSPCA/Animals Australia campaign that is currently underway, with TV ads addressing the Prime Minister. There has been a giant public reaction to all of this. I have sent the following letter to several local and national newspapers, the 4 Corners forum and my parter has been sharing it on Facebook. This letter uses some ideas that Gary Francione has been expressing for a long time.


The response to ABC's Four Corners documentary about cow slaughter in Indonesia has been overwhelming. Although halal, or slaughtering in accordance with Islamic law, may technically allow cows to be stunned before they are killed, in practice the definition of "halal" does not permit stunning.

There are many halal and kosher slaughterhouses on Australian soil that do not stun cows before they are killed, as they get exemptions for ritual slaughter from meat inspection authorities.

Despite the standard requiring stunning, even non-halal Australian slaughterhouses kill many cows whilst they are fully awake. At an average non-halal Aussie slaughterhouse, about 250 cows are killed every hour. Captive-bolt stunning is inherently imprecise and workers are under constant pressure to keep up the speed of the disassembly line. As a result, many cows are still conscious when they are hoisted up by one leg, breaking bones and tearing ligaments in the process, and their throats are cut and dismemberment begins. Other Australian cows are stunned and then wake up during slaughter. In the words of a former slaughterhouse worker; "On bad days, dozens of animals reached my station clearly alive and conscious. Some would survive as far as the tail cutter, the belly ripper, the hide puller. They die piece by piece." So much for Australian superiority and the harmful anti-Muslim sentiments that it can perpetuate.

Nearly nine million cows are killed in Australia per year and, with these numbers, it is impossible to enforce the so-called stunning standard any more than it already is. Cows are prodded into the holding stall with a high-voltage electric prod. They are fully aware of what lies ahead. The physical symptoms of terror are painfully evident on the faces of every animal. The animals can smell the blood, and see their former companions in various stages of dismemberment. Cows are routinely castrated, spayed, dehorned and hot-iron branded without any pain relief.

There is no easy, clean way to oppress someone. There is no significant difference between halal meat and so-called "humane" meat. Regardless of country, all meat, dairy and eggs come from animals who have been tortured, even under the very best of conditions. Our only excuse for this use of animals as objects is that they taste good.

People who care about Australian cows in Indonesia may wish to consider whether to consume any animal products at all. Each of us has the power to stop this abhorrent violence now simply by eating delicious vegan food instead.

Jeff Perz, Alice Springs Vegan Society

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Comment by Tim Gier on June 8, 2011 at 13:17

I agree with the essential argument I think is being presented in this letter: All slaughter of other animals is morally wrong, and it would be even under most controlled conditions. Other animals are the sorts of beings who ought not to be confined and killed to satisfy our wants and pleasures.

At the same time though, I wonder if, as a tactical move, it would make more sense to validate the outrage that so many Australians appear to be experiencing right now. What I mean is, this letter, and other comments I have seen elsewhere like it, appear to be saying to people "What you have witnessed with your own eyes, in all its gory horror, is not relatively more horrific than what goes on every day. This isn't extraordinary, it is routine." Now, from what I have read, the 4 Corners footage shows scenes which even slaughterhouse workers have said is horrific, and people have told me that it is shocking indeed, even for those familiar with videos of what goes on in slaughterhouses. So to tell people who are shocked that they ought not to be shocked would seem to deny those people their legitimate feelings. I don't know that that's the best approach when what we are trying to do is change people's hearts and minds. Perhaps I am reading more into this than what was intended?


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