I don't eat intensively farmed meat, specifically factory farmed pork or chicken, because while I don't mind killing an animal humanely for food, I don't want it to have been ill-treated while alive. We all die, it's how we live that counts.
I won't eat anything that's been tortured to death, either, so I don't eat frogs legs - the legs get cut off living frogs and the torsos are discarded to die. I won't eat kosher or halal meat for the same reason. Slow death is not humane, and the animals know they are being killed.
I'm particularly concerned that a curious looseness seems to have attched itself to halal slaughter. When I dealt in meats, a lorry driver once told me how he had driven up and down a suburban street looking for the halal slaughterhouse, and eventually knocked on the door of a semi-detached house to ask directions. The directions were: down the hall into a rear room that had been lined with tiles with a drain in the centre of the floor. Sheep were herded along the corridor into this room, where they screamed and jostled as they tried to escape the knife-wielding man who was making his way among them. The driver, a veteran of slaughterhouse deliveries, was sickened.
That's why this report from the Daily Mail is so disturbing:
Halal meat is being served to pupils in state schools without their knowledge, even if they believe the religious slaughter is cruel.
Parents have reacted furiously after being sent letters telling them their children's school dinners have been all-halal for 'some time'.
The meat was introduced at four schools in the Reading area with a high proportion of Muslim pupils. But parents of non-Muslim pupils - between 20 and 50 per cent of the schools' roll -say they were not consulted.
Last month, a head teacher in Rotherham caused an outcry when she said she intended to replace traditional turkey with halal chicken to create an 'integrated Christmas'. Jan Charters, head of Oakwood School, backed down after complaints by MPs.
A spokesperson for Reading Borough Council said: "The decision was taken several years ago. Schools thought it was the appropriate choice for their multi-cultural community. We are increasing options at the four schools by offering fish each day."
Earlier this year, an RSPCA pamphlet stated: "Muslim communities in the UK should review their slaughter practices. Research demonstrates that slaughter of any animal without stunning can cause unnecessary suffering."