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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Religious non-stun slaughter of animals

The National Secular Society has long campaigned for an end to the exemption that allows religious groups to slaughter animals without pre-stunning.

Animal welfare legislation requires all animals to be stunned before slaughter in order to minimise suffering. The only exemption is for religious communities to meet Jewish and Muslim religious requirements.

Research shows that it is more humane to stun an animal prior to slaughter than not to do so. The slaughter of animals without pre-stunning is permitted in the UK despite a recommendation by the Government's own advisory body, the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC), that the practice should be banned. The FAWC have concluded that animals slaughtered without pre-stunning are likely to experience "very significant pain and distress" before they become unconscious.

Likewise, the EU's Scientific Panel on Animal Health and Welfare (AHAW) have stated that: "Due to the serious animal welfare concerns associated with slaughter without stunning, pre-cut stunning should always be performed."

The Federation of Veterinarians of Europe have stated: "FVE is of the opinion that the practice of slaughtering animals without prior stunning is unacceptable under any circumstances".

Whilst we support the right to religious freedom, this is not an absolute right, and we do not think that exemptions should be made on religious grounds to animal welfare regulations which apply without exception to everyone else.


Meat from animals slaughtered without pre-stunning is routinely being sold on the general market to unsuspecting members of the public.

For as long as exemptions are granted – we argue that meat from religious slaughter without pre-stunning should be appropriately labelled, enabling consumers to make an informed choice about the food they purchase.

The current absence of labelling of such meat deprives consumers of information key to their purchase and consequently also serves to fuel the demand for meat from slaughter without stunning.

To find out more about the issue read our Religious Slaughter Campaign FAQ and our Religious Slaughter Briefing Paper.

Take action!

Sign the petition to end non-stun slaughter

The NSS is backing a petition by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) to end non-stun slaughter of animals to improve animal welfare.

Sign the petition today

Contact your MP

Using this briefing to inform your letter, please contact your MP/AM/MSP to let them know that you oppose exemptions from animal welfare legislation that permits slaughter without pre-stunning.

Please ask them to support any proposals that ensure that meat from animals slaughtered without pre-stunning, is clearly labelled.

Please send any replies you receive to admin@secularism.org.uk

Write to your MP

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