Why do Christians eat meat? (3)

On my recent visit to York Minster I was captivated by a poster that asked how the Romans transitioned from their old pagan religious rituals to Christian rituals after Constantine adopted the Christian God as the state God. It’s a good question. It is challenging on a number of fronts.

After the visit I went online and found this summary of end of sacrifice.

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I understand sacrifice simply to represent slaughter and safe processing of the meat that can be eaten from carcasses and critically the safe disposal of what was left over. This was overlayed with prayers of thanksgiving but the aim of the practice and ritual was to ensure meat was safe to eat. It had to be free from disease and for sure there were public health consequences is the unusable carcass was not disposed of safely.

Clearly in Biblical times and earlier there was not concept of bacteria but it is not difficult to understand that the priests of the day would have made an association between bad practice and disease. Disease would easily have been construed as punishment – especially for the maltreatment of animals at slaughter in particular.

The screen grab starts with the pro-vegetarian attitudes of pre-Christian religions originating in Asia and the Orient. No doubt some of these ideas must have spread westwards. At least the most devout and pious followers of many religions were questioning the practice of eating meat. As it was Jews and many other cults had long since recognised the need for centralised slaughter under the supervision of priests. Slaughter/sacrifice was typically done on a special occasion when there was a reason for a large family or community gathering (a street party, you could say).

John the Baptist, Jesus and their immediate associates appear to have been vegetarian and as a consequence disengaged from the tradition Jewish slaughter practice. We know from the gospels that Jesus fell out with the Temple authorities big time and the principal business of the Temple was slaughter. The Temple was the public slaughterhouse of its day. As well as merely killing animals to eat priests performed what today we know as “meat inspection”. Priests had worked out was constituted wholesome or healthy meat.  They had also worked out that the safest way to find dispose of what was left over was to burn it. The smell must have been something. Incense was used to mask it. When they gathered for the Passover festival the slaughter must have appeared very gruesome. If you had a prior aversion to killing animals just for their meat the whole experience would have been off-putting (as would a visit to a large commercial slaughterhouse today if they weren’t so secretive).

Critically the whole meat-eating process was controlled. In Greek tradition I read that meat had to be eaten within the confines of the sacred place, temple, or consecrated ground. Today we run into trouble if we store meat badly. Very clearly the priests were aware that if people took meat away to eat later and let it go off, because they didn’t know how to and did not have facilities to keep meat pure, the consequent food poisoning would not be good. The priests and community leaders would not uncontrolled disposal of meat in spoil pits or middens, which could attract rats and potential infection from them.

The origin of prayer at slaughter can easily be surmised. People clearly had a concept of the sanctity of life and guilt at taking life – witness the vegetarian ideology of Hinduism and the religions associated with it. The prayer thanks Our Maker, The Giver of Life, or whoever, for His bounty while seeking forgiveness for taking a life. You could also interpret it as asking the animal, even, for permission to take its life. One way or another it is intended to be a spiritual and solemn occasion – unlike modern Secular industrialised slaughter.

Most of this knowledge was held by priests and passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth. Novice priests would have taken years to train. The meat inspection, for example, could not be taught from illustrated text books. They also would need to have learn how to craft or supervise the crafting of knives to provide a blemish free blade. A blade that had nicks in it would tear flesh as it cut and cause pain. If the animal pulled away from a blunt blade the cut may not be quick and successful thereby causing great suffering.

Now assuming that Jesus and his associates were not engaging fully with the Temple authorities they would not be understanding the import of the ritual. Indeed they had issues with washing hands before eating. (Mark 7:5; Matthew 15:2; Luke 11:38)

This interaction between Jesus and his associates and the Temple authorities was/is hugely significant. None of these gospel writers were contemporaries of Jesus. Matthew and Luke worked from Mark’s gospel. The import is that the occurrence was significant enough to have been remembered and passed down.

When the Romans destroyed the Second Temple in 70CE the public slaughterhouse was destroyed and the Jewish authorities codified the ritual thereby enabling others to perform slaughter safely. In the meantime as St Paul took the Christian message into Southern Europe it seems that they adopted gentile practices that were far less strict than kosher – seemingly pigs were on the menu – but they were not so far removed that they bore no resemblance to kosher. The method of kill was more or less the same; there were meat inspection; and the remainder was burnt.

I am undecided to what extent Christians ate meat. Was the persecution of Christians in part because they were not following good sacrificial practice? How many Christians were there in the Roman Empire because of the persecution? Seemingly until his conversion Constantine punished vegetarian Christians. Christians had to keep their vegetarianism secret –  presumably avoiding public festivals. Constantine’s wife was Christian but presumably cannot have been vegetarian. How could she have kept that from her family members? I can only assume that many Christians were meat eaters. Constantine accepted Christian practice and ended their persecution.  The adoption of Christianity came about fifty years after his death. There may not have been any momentous change in practice in the Principia at York.

The tone from the screen grab suggests that as the Roman Empire came to a close formal organised sacrifice/slaughter had all but been abandoned with Christian emperors making sacrifice illegal. But what was made illegal and why? If the whole population of the Roman Empire had been banned from eating meat we have to assume that Europe and most of the world that came under its jurisdiction at some point would still be vegetarian today. That is not the case. What was abolished was the formal humane slaughter and hygiene practice. Animals were still sacrificed and eaten but without any reverence.

We have to assume that Christians may even have associated sacrifice with idol worship.

Fast forward to the industrial revolution and we see that in Britain the increase in meat consumption, as people migrated to towns and cities, placed huge strains on the supply side. Conditions in many slaughterhouses were dire. Keir Robertson,  writing about “The Bovine Scourge” painted a grim picture of rat infested facilities. One can only assume that attention to humane slaughter may not have been brilliant. Kosher practice on the other hand was highly regulated and must have been several orders of magnitude superior – leading to exemptions for religious practice. Secular authorities introduced the idea of the public slaughterhouse where health and hygiene practices could be supervised and regulated – thereby mimicking ancient religious practice.

The last two sentences in the screen grab are of interest.

The Roman Empire, at least in Western Europe, fell within a hundred years of Christian being adopted formally as the state religion at the back-end of the fourth century. Why?

Could it be that the learned structures than must were associated with temples acting as effective community and municipal centres disintegrated? That’s really speculative, or is it?

The last sentence in the screen grab says that when Mohammed and Islam took centre stage on the seventh century sacrifice was not included as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. On the other hand at this time the principles of good animal welfare, especially at slaughter, and hygiene were re-introduced. In parts of Africa slaughterhouses are co-located with mosques. Mosques are community centres. Slaughter was once again brought under the supervision of community leaders (imams, presumably). Hygiene and spirituality are essential components of eating meat, which early Muslims presumably did only on special occasions – seemingly gathering at their community centre to do so. Coincidentally Islam flourished and as it flourished so science advanced – eventually, it seems, spreading west and laying the foundations of western academia.

This post is the third of a series asking, “Why do Christians eat meat?” There is no reason why they should but my reading is suggesting very strongly that the first Christians were vegetarian and zealously opposed eating meat. As a consequence the “inner circle” or “controlling mind” of the first Christian movement disconnected from essential rituals that were integral to the practice of preparing and eating meat. Having done so the movement’s followers were never going to be taught the importance of hygiene. Indeed it seems that hygiene was actually eschewed.

What I am seeing is that good practice promulgated by Jews before Christianity to this day was corrupted under Christian influence until Mohammed and Islam re-codified the practices. Islam never penetrated far into Western Europe. It reached Southern Spain but was expelled. Turkey marks the boundary of Islamic influence in Eastern Europe. Curiously Western Christianity has retained the vestiges of sacrifice in many of its rituals, which now have symbolic form.

I believe that Christians disconnect with sacrifice is a cause of many of today’s ills. There can be no doubt that anti-Semitism (anti-Jewish sentiment) is in part fuelled by Christianity’s disconnect from Jewish rituals. Muslims more or less follow many or most food hygiene practices so it is no surprise that Christians have difficulty accepting Islam.

Why do Christians eat meat? (2)

Further to my first post under the heading “Why do Christians eat meat?” I found this:

Vegetarianism and Meat-Eating in 8 Religions

The article looks at eight European/Asian religions and their relationship to eat meat. Of these Jainism can be said to have the  most extreme views. Christianity (and possibly Islam) appears to be indifferent.

Western secular culture has arguably evolved from or been informed by a Christian value system. Atheists and Secularists seemingly eschew religious attitudes towards eating meat. Many perceive that religious taboos or considerations are man-made, artificial and attributed to a belief in a sky pixie or an imaginary friend.

This is a shame because from what I can see all religion is shaped and informed by a spiritual of Humanist attitude to and respect for, at least, sentient life.

The section on Islamic beliefs in of particular interest:

“In ancient times, meat-eating in Islamic countries was predicated on necessity. Pre-Islamic Arabs led a pastoral and nomadic existence in harsh desert climates where it would have been challenging, if not impossible, to survive on a vegetarian diet.”

“According to his earliest biographies, the Prophet Mohammed preferred vegetarian food, particularly favoring milk blended with yogurt, butter, nuts, cucumber, dates, pomegranates, grapes, figs and honey.”

“Mohammed was said to have been compassionate toward animals, and Islamic scriptures often command that all creatures be treated with care. … no creature should be harmed in Mecca …”

In The Prophet’s day people traded over large distances and into the Indian sub-continent where other religions would have been encountered. Did Mohammed’s thinking evolve from these interactions? For that matter the sect that Jesus belonged to seemingly likewise may have developed a vegetarian ideology.

Today for sure Muslims do eat a great deal of meat and animals and meat are traded over large distances in order to satisfy demand in many Muslim countries.

This excerpt raises an interesting point:

“Muslims who choose to abstain from eating meat do so for a variety of reasons. Some argue that, especially in the West, truly halal meat does not and cannot exist–that making meat halal is impossible in today’s industrialized world of factory farming. Even if the technical requirements of a halal slaughter are observed, the animals are not raised in humane and wholesome environments. They are physically abused and may be killed within view of other animals.”

I won’t develop my thoughts on this here other than to say that it confirms my belief that Muslims ought to ask themselves, “How halal is halal?” “Is a label or a halal certificate adequate?”

This statement from above may be hugely meaningful:

“Pre-Islamic Arabs led a pastoral and nomadic existence in harsh desert climates where it would have been challenging.”

I have no idea to what extent we can look at the Old Testament and view it as a reliable historical document but the exodus account must surely be based on something real. There is evidence to suggest that ancient Egyptians were mostly vegetarian. If this is so when the Hebrews under Moses leadership left Egypt they had to re-learn and adopt a nomadic lifestyle that they had forgotten. As I showed above nomadic peoples ate meat because in harsh environments it may not have been possible to live only on a vegetarian diet.

“Scholars of Judaism agree that God’s intention was for man to be vegetarian. ‘God did not permit Adam and his wife to kill a creature and to eat its flesh,’ “

If people were not used to killing animals and preparing meat to eat safely there would have been potentially serious public health consequences. On the one hand tainted meat would have led directly to food poisoning, which would have been a real issue, especially if water was not plentiful. They also had safely to dispose of the parts of the animal that they could not eat, the offal, excess fat and skeleton. You could not simply toss the waste into a spoil pit. It would have attracted scavenging pests, such as rats. That in turn would have presented other infection risks. It was burnt.

The article says of Christianity:

“Both vegetarians and meat-eaters find support in scriptures”

“Scholars tend to agree that many early Christians were vegetarians. St. John Chrysostom wrote: “We, the Christian leaders, practice abstinence from the flesh of animals to subdue our bodies.” Some experts assert that Matthew and all the Apostles abstained from eating meat.”

The idea that the first Christians were vegetarian has many proponents. That is not to say that they expected their followers necessarily to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle, however they were Jews and surely they would have promoted a kosher diet if meat was eaten.

That Muslims regard Jews and Christians, at least those living in what is now Saudi Arabia and around Mecca at the time of Mohammed, as “Peoples of the Book”. The “Book” is in essence the Old Testament, or specifically the Pentateuch, and people who followed it would have adopted kosher or halal practice.  These Christians would appear not to have been vegetarian but would presumably not have eaten pig meat.

For me the connection between Christianity and meat eating is very ambiguous. There seems to be an indifferent approach to the subject. Islam does not expound a vegetarian diet but has adopted codes and a way of life that is supposed to encourage Muslims to think about where their meat comes from.

Somewhere is the time of the early Christians there was a disconnect with traditional Jewish/kosher practice.

Mark 7 (NIV) opens by offering some parenthetical background information on  hygienic practices amongst Jews in the 1st Century CE:

1 The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus 2 and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed.  3 (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. 4 When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.)

I have to say this has to provide strong evidence that Jesus had no need to observe the strict Jewish hygiene rules because he was not eating meat, and leaves me with the original question stands. “Why do Christians eat meat?”

 

Why do Christians eat meat? (1)

Hardly a day passes on Twitter when someone does not criticise the Muslim practice of thanking Allah/God at the time they kill an animal to eat. Most people who condemn halal practice and completely disconnected with the methods used to produce the meat that they take for granted on the supermarket shelves. To many meat is just another commodity.

In the UK today many people would probably describe themselves as non-religious and many describe themselves as Christian are probably non-practising in that they do not pray and rarely attend church. Most people, therefore, have no concept of the background to Jewish kosher or Muslim halal practice because they live outside a religious environment. But why are practising Christians dismissive of kosher and halal practice?

Jesus and the sect that he joined were Jews. If they ate meat they would surely have eaten kosher. Kosher codes describe humane animal welfare in life and at slaughter, and hygienic cooking. What could be eaten would have been eaten. Because they could not keep raw meat for more than a couple of days eating meat became community events (hence the concept of holy days and festivals). They may well have gathered to celebrate a significant family or community event.

We probably misunderstand the meaning of “sacrifice”. Everything that could be eaten would have been eaten and not wasted. Hides or skins would have been salvaged and everything else that could not be eaten or used was burnt so that the skeletal remains could be disposed of safely so as not to attract vermin and scavengers that could bring disease.

If Jesus and his colleagues ate meat they would not have abandoned time-honoured good practice that was in fact more or less followed by many if not all religious cults at that time. I’ll hazard a guess and suggest that Jews may have done it better than many other peoples.

Somewhere along the line early Christians have lost touch with their heritage. Well not all of them – some Christians in the Middle East and North Africa have retained their cultural practices. Muslims include Jews and Christians in the term “Peoples of the Book” indicating that Christians living alongside Mohammed in and around what we call Saudi Arabia must have known how to prepare their meat the halal or kosher way.

Western Christians have little empathy with kosher and halal. Some indeed are openly hostile towards Jews and Muslims. A substantial number of Christians do not even accept that the One Creator God that Abraham followed is the same Creator God followed by Muslims. Allah is seen as a false God and presumably the world in which Muslims live is a false world. I know that does not make sense. If you believe in a Creator God there was only One Creation. Whether it was as described in Genesis or a Big Bang it happened once.

Part of the halal slaughter practice is the need for the person taking the life of an animal to thank God for his bounty and to seek forgiveness for taking the life. Many Christians cannot empathise with that. It is worth trying to understanding kosher slaughter. A Jewish shochet is not permitted to kill in anger. Thus if he gets out of bed on the wrong side he is not permitted slaughter that day. The whole process should be performed with a degree of solemnity.

If Jesus and his colleagues ate meat why would they have abandoned such practices? It is inconceivable.

I have seen a number of references to the possibility that the sect that Jesus joined was vegetarian. The Christian story most of us learn is that Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice.

Jill, Duchess of Hamilton wrote an article, “There is no role for animal sacrifice in Christianity”

Here is an excerpt:

Yet bloodless altars are a distinguishing feature of Christian churches. One of the tenets of the faith is that Jesus was the ultimate and final sacrifice. Christians atone for their sins without the shedding of blood. They look to Jesus as the lamb of God who made the ancient belief in sacrifice obsolete.

Sacrifice is how they prepared meat to eat in those days. Today’s word “slaughter” is a close synonym. The ancient skills were passed down by word of mouth, the oral tradition, from one generation of priests to the next. That is until the Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans the year 70CE. They could  no longer gather at The Temple to eat their meat. The practices were then written down or codified so that meat could be safely produced elsewhere. The skills of the priests were transferred to rabbis.

Now I pose the question, if Jesus and his associates ate meat would not all of today’s Christians have empathy with kosher practice and even try to follow it? On the other hand Jesus overthrew the money changers’ table in the Temple. The Temple authorities seemingly had monetized sacrifice and made it a business. Jesus challenged the establishment. This supports the concept that Jesus may have been vegetarian.

If this is so, why do Christians eat meat as they do?

I have just come across this:

Compassionate Eating

The writers drawn attention to the idea of “stewardship” of the planet:

Our Planet – Being the Best Steward You Can Be

In Genesis 2:15, God instructed Adam to “till” and “keep” the Garden of Eden, and by analogy we may see caring for God’s Creation as our sacred task. The typical meat eater’s diet requires up to 14 times more water and 20 times more energy than that of a vegetarian. Indeed, current use of land, water, and energy is not sustainable, and resource depletion threatens to cause great hardships for humankind this century.

A recent report concluded that worldwide livestock production contributes 51% of humanity’s greenhouse gasses. The most important thing people can do to reduce their contribution to global warming is to reduce their use of animal products.

In closing I eat meat but increasingly I look for vegetarian options on menus. I have written this because in my view Christians who oppose halal and kosher practices, especially the former, must seriously and robustly be challenged. Those who promote a vegetarian diet cannot be questioned but those who attack halal but eat meat themselves really do need to study their history.

For people who have no empathy with religion and who struggle with “religious slaughter” I can only say that our religious ancestors did not create ritual just for the hell of it. The academics and/or priests of the day would surely have clocked that there good and bad ways of prodcuing meat. Get it wrong and they were punished for the sin of taking a life in the form of food poisoning and other diseases that would have had a big impact on public health.

 

Chilling

If everyone elects for or demands elective care at weekends cover Monday to Friday will presumably be degraded and capacity presumably underused.

Big Up the NHS

There is a question that has been troubling me for some time now. I think I have worked out the answer but if I am right it is deeply disturbing.

Why does our government have such a fixation about providing a 7 day elective (non emergency) NHS?

Now let me be perfectly clear about this. They are talking about non emergency services – getting your family planning advice on a Saturday afternoon and your varicose vein operation on a Sunday morning. Cameron was unequivocal in his speech to the Tory Spring Conference in Manchester last year. He said “with a future Conservative government, we would have a truly 7 day NHS” and that “everyone will have access to the NHS services they need 7 days a week by 2020 – the first country in the world to make this happen”.

Let me also be perfectly clear that the proposed changes…

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My Reasons for Joining the Quilliam Foundation

I believe we have some distance to travel before we understand concepts of blasphemy and apostasy and the fundament penalties. Adam talks about rationalist and anti-rationalist camps in Islam. For me Islam only makes sense in a rationalist context.

Adam Deen

QUILLIAM_LOGO

My decision to join Quilliam Foundation has required a great deal of thought and months of discussion with Quilliam’s Managing Director, Haras Rafiq. I had to think deeply about past decisions that Quilliam (QF) as an organisation has made that I haven’t necessarily supported and also about the core ethos of the organisation. I have come to the conclusion that QF shouldn’t be defined by controversial decisions of the past but by the values upon which the organisation is founded upon. It may not be coincidence that al-Hakim al-Jishumiyya al-Bayhaqi (a Hanafi Mu’Tazili jurist from the 12th century) in his book ‘Satan’s Epistle’ asks: “if Satan were given the chance to speak on the Day of Judgment, whom would he pay tribute to?”  Al Bayhaqi concludes that Satan would end up praising and thanking every Muslim who adapted ideas that attributed to God things that were irrational, unjust or hideous.  Al…

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Butchering day: turkeys (graphic photo documentary)

With grateful thanks this article includes a description of the kosher slaughter of birds which the practitioner qualitatively champions after being shown. As far as I can see there are no religious overlays.

From my reading fully trained Jewish slaughtermen may have some of the best expertise – not least they will have been taught by experts.

Howling Duck Ranch

Warning: If you are not seriously interested in learning about turkey butchering, seeing the process documented in photos, then I suggest you do not read or look any further.

Hot water ready for scalding birds.

I have, up until today, learned most of what I know about farming, animal husbandry, animal veterinary care, and butchering from a book. When you have been raised in the city, don’t have a farming background nor access to someone knowledgeable to teach you, this becomes the only way to learn.

My friend Clarence was butchering his turkeys today, and upon hearing his technique, my ears perked up and I asked him if I could help. Not only was it a chance for me to learn by doing, but also it was a chance for me to get behind the camera and document the process!

We had discussed the various ways of killing a turkey and when he asked me how…

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The parable of the prodigal son

No, I am not going to go all religious. I am not going to explain the meaning of the parable of the prodigal son. There are many people much better qualified to do so than I am able to do that.  I can, however, talk about the killing of the fatted calf. This story points to the practice of the time of eating meat only on special days – not least because they would never have been able to produce enough for daily consumption that we may be used to.

Of the prodigal son’s return to his family home the gospel writer, Luke, wrote:

22 “But the father said to his servants, … 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

How should we interpret and use these statements?

I think that it is reasonable to assume that the peoples of the Holy Lands and the neighbouring regions would not have wasted energy time and resources on rearing beef cattle in order to produce t-bone steaks. In fact we know that rearing animals just for their protein is inefficient. On the other hand, the milk from goats and cows would have been a useful renewable source of liquid protein. The “cow” is respected in Hindu for this reason. Male progeny would have been culled quite early in their lives but when big enough to eat.

From what I can see the peoples of Jesus’ time would have eaten meat only on special occasions. Indeed I have read that in Greek tradition that they gathered to eat meat on either special days, say birthdays, or on days commemorating events that were special to the community. For Jews the Passover is a special event. The completion of the gathering of the current year’s harvest would have been marked by a harvest festival. The winter solstice would have been a special occasion as people looked forward to a cycle of new life. With different iterations of calendars Christmas and New Year celebrations have become detached from the winter solstice but clearly that must be the origin of these festivals. But I digress.

Why would meat from lamb, goats and calves have been eaten only on special days?

One reason is that if a lamb, goat or calf is going to be big enough to eat it will probably be too big for the nuclear family – mum, dad, 2.4 children and one or two grandparents, perhaps. For sure if they were going kill and take the life of an animal they would not want to waste anything that could be eaten. They would have gathered the extended family together and probably included their servants.

Alternatively they would have had a community event, a street party, as it were. You can imagine that a long-lost community member returning home would have meant something to the whole community as well as the immediate family. Again nothing that could be eaten would have been wasted and we can see the concept of charity developing as meat was distributed to the poor.

How do I know this? I recently went to a Muslim wedding feast. There was plenty of meat and there seemed to be plenty left over. I am told that it was taken away and distributed so as not to waste it.

Contrast that with a secular love affair with meat. I remember when Marks and Spencer started selling fresh food and short-dated ready meals. The shelves were usually empty by mid-afternoon. There was clearly a policy of not overstocking so that little meat was thrown away. Today we expect to see supermarket shelves full so that we can buy meat at almost anytime of the day. Much gets wasted posing the question: “How many animals die in vain?”

I have written this in part in the context of the often ill-informed conversations about the cruelty of halal slaughter. What I have described are infrequent occasions when meat was eaten in Biblical times. Animals were or should have been killed with reverence. They were cooked with care. There were probably good practical reasons. Animals treated badly at slaughter may well not have produced good meat. Improper cooking would have led to food poisoning. Throwing the inedible carcass onto a spoil heap would have attracted vermin and posed a health risk so they learned to burn it.

This is the origin of sacrifice. It’s how they prepared their meat in Biblical times and earlier. They probably gathered at a dedicated piece of land kept clean and protected for this purpose – hence the concept of consecrated land.

I think that we can say for sure that the peoples of Biblical times did not know about bacteria but for sure they, or rather their priests or prophets, would have been able to work out what was good and bad practice. We can also assume that they had a sense of the “sanctity of life”. In Muslim tradition a prayer effectively to thank Our Creator for his bounty and to ask forgiveness for taking life is offered. Jews do something similar. Christians traditionally say grace at mealtimes.

In our secular world all these considerations are abandoned. We expect to eat meat any day. We are usually disconnected from its production. We have introduced intensive rearing and industrial slaughter where animals are treated as mere commodities. Some this is changing. In recent years we have become aware of factory farming and campaign against it but we care not to think too much about what happens between the farm gate and supermarket shelves. We have moved a long way from the reverential concept of sacrifice around two thousand years ago and earlier. Too many of us are too quick to condemn the religious component of slaughter but perhaps we need to revisit it.

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