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Ultimately the issue for PETA was not the law nor cruelty to animals – both of which shechita conforms with. PETA’s issue was best expressed by a non-Jewish, liberal vegetarian – one who would seemingly be a PETA diehard. Gregory Johnson’s enlightening posting (April 10, 2010) is presented below with very minor deletions regarding the benefits of a vegan lifestyle.



A Vegetarian Visits a Kosher Slaughter House
by Gregory Johnson

I am thoroughly committed to fostering a future of vegetarianism and compassion toward animals on this planet. I make every effort to ensure that my words and actions produce the greatest outcome to achieve that end.

Recently I was invited by some Orthodox Jewish friends to attend a tour of a kosher meat packing plant – AgriProcessors Inc., in Postville, Iowa. This plant made national news in 2004 when members of the organization PETA began covertly working as employees at the plant in an effort to secretly videotape the slaughtering of animals there. When the news story broke, someone sent me a link to the PETA site and I viewed the video footage at that time. I was troubled by what I saw.

This past Sunday (26 March 2006) I toured the entire AgriProcessors meat packing plant. I saw every uncensored inch of the production facility from the killing floor all the way to the shrink-wrapping and boxing of meat with dry ice for overseas shipping. It was clear to me that no attempt was made to show our small group anything other than business as usual. In fact, no special accommodations would be possible. Much of the plant is run by machines and conveyor belts. It runs on a tight production schedule – 24 hours a day.

Today I went to the PETA website and reviewed the video footage again – since a year had passed from the first time I had seen it. A year later, PETA still features a prominent link to the video on their home page. In watching the PETA video, I realized that four days ago, during the tour, I stood in the very same room where the PETA video was taken – the killing floor for cattle.

The PETA video sparked a worldwide controversy and engaged the attention of millions. Based on the video footage, hundreds of experts from Israel and around the world made public statements against AgriProcessors. The experts included USDA slaughter consultants, Talmud scholars, Rabbis from around the world including Israel’s Chief Rabbinate, the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, and numerous specialists in Jewish Kosher laws.

The condemnation of AgriProcessors seems like an open and shut case. There is video footage. There are witnesses. There is expert testimony.

Yet something has troubled me about the PETA campaign since the first time I saw the video even up to this very day. Now, having visited the plant, and having had a few days to reflect on what I saw, I am even more troubled by the PETA campaign.

On the surface, the PETA campaign seems to be a simple protest against animals being killed by slitting their throats. However, if this is true, then why hasn’t PETA condemned Muslim meat packing plants?

Dhabiha slaughtering is the Muslim equivalent to Jewish Kosher (Shechitah) slaughtering. This method, according to Islamic law, produces Halaal (permissible) meat. The method is so similar to the Jewish Kosher process that the Qur’an explicitly states it is permissible for Muslims to eat Jewish Kosher meats.

In Jewish or Muslim traditions, the process of killing the animal is to quickly slit its throat with a very sharp knife and immediately let the animal be drained of blood by hanging it upside down.

The fact is that PETA is officially on public record as stating that, “Kosher (or Halaal) slaughter is less cruel than other slaughter methods in the United States.” See this link for the complete statement:

Why do PETA and others assert that Kosher slaughter is the most humane method of slaughter? The website explains: “The kosher method of slaughter, known as shechitah, is designed primarily to remove blood from the animal, because blood is not kosher. However, it has always been understood to be the most humane form of killing: a swift stroke through the neck with a very sharp knife, simultaneously severing the carotid arteries and causing an immediate loss of blood pressure to the brain that rapidly causes insensitivity, insensibility, unconsciousness and then death. It is not a pretty death: an enormous amount of blood spurts out of the animal like water from a firehose when the stroke is made. And yet, that very blood loss that makes the process so messy is precisely what makes it relatively painless, cutting off blood to the brain.” The complete article is found here:

For this reason, Federal law 7 U.S.C. § 1902(b) makes specific reference to Kosher slaughter as the most humane method for killing an animal, “whereby the animal suffers loss of consciousness by anemia of the brain caused by the simultaneous and instantaneous severance of the carotid arteries with a sharp instrument.”

If PETA believes the real problem with slaughtering is not to be found with Muslims and Jews, then why go to such lengths to infiltrate and defame a Jewish Kosher packing plant?

I have thoroughly reviewed the PETA campaign materials. The PETA campaign largely focuses on the argument that AgriProcessors engages in practices that violate kosher laws regarding the slaughter of animals. The campaign insinuates that PETA would approve of the AgriProcessors facility if it would satisfy kosher laws. This, of course, is absurd. It is a blatant lie. The PETA organization does not encourage meat eating regardless of how animals are raised and killed.

As I reviewed the details of the campaign, I began to ask myself questions. Since when do non-Jews take such a strong interest in kosher laws? These PETA people are not Orthodox Jews. So, why would they so strongly criticize a kosher packing plant for what they believe to be violations of kosher practice? If non-kosher slaughter is more inhumane, then why not report on non-kosher slaughter?

(To be continued)

Chodesh tov – have a pleasant month!

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Rabbi Hanoch Teller is the award-winning producer of three films, a popular teacher in Jerusalem yeshivos and seminaries, and the author of 28 books, the latest entitled Heroic Children, chronicling the lives of nine child survivors of the Holocaust. Rabbi Teller is also a senior docent in Yad Vashem and is frequently invited to lecture to different communities throughout the world.