Global Perspectives on Animal Slaughter: Insights from 14 Nations

In an increasingly interconnected world, the ways in which societies perceive and practice animal slaughter reveal much about their cultural, religious, and ethical landscapes. The article “Global Perspectives on Animal Slaughter: Insights from 14 Nations,” authored by Abby Steketee and based on a comprehensive study by Sinclair, M., Hotzel, M.J., Lee, N.Y.P., et al., delves into these varied perceptions and beliefs. Published on May 28, 2024, this study offers a nuanced look at how people from different regions view the welfare of animals during slaughter, a topic that resonates deeply across borders.

Each year, over 73 billion animals, excluding fish, are slaughtered worldwide, with methods ranging from pre-slaughter stunning to fully conscious killing. The study surveyed 4,291 individuals across 14 countries—spanning continents from Asia to South America—to understand their views on animal welfare during slaughter. The findings reveal a complex tapestry of attitudes shaped by cultural, religious, and economic factors, yet also highlight a nearly universal concern for minimizing animal suffering.

The research underscores significant gaps in public knowledge about slaughter practices, revealing widespread misconceptions even in countries with stringent animal welfare laws. For instance, a substantial portion of U.S. participants were unaware that pre-slaughter stunning is mandated and routinely practiced. Despite these knowledge gaps, the study found that compassion for animals is a common thread, with the majority of participants across all but one country agreeing that it is important to prevent animal suffering during slaughter.

By exploring these diverse perspectives, the article not only sheds light on the global state of animal welfare but also calls attention to the need for better public education and transparency within the food system. The insights gathered from this study offer valuable guidance for policymakers, animal welfare advocates, and consumers aiming to foster more humane practices in animal slaughter worldwide.
###‌ Introduction

In an increasingly⁣ interconnected world, the ways in which societies perceive and practice animal slaughter reveal much about their cultural, religious, and ethical landscapes. The ⁣article “Global Views on Animal Slaughter: Insights from 14 Countries,” authored by Abby Steketee and based ⁢on a ⁢comprehensive study‍ by Sinclair, M., Hotzel,‍ M.J., Lee, N.Y.P., et al., delves into these varied perceptions and beliefs. Published on May 28, 2024, this study offers a nuanced look at how⁤ people from different regions view the welfare of animals during slaughter, a topic that​ resonates deeply across borders.

Each year,⁢ over 73 billion animals, excluding fish,‌ are slaughtered worldwide, with methods ranging from pre-slaughter stunning to fully conscious killing. The study surveyed 4,291 individuals across 14 countries—spanning continents ⁤from​ Asia to South America—to understand their views ‍on animal welfare during slaughter. The findings reveal a complex ‌tapestry of attitudes ⁤shaped by ‍cultural, religious,⁣ and economic factors, yet also highlight a ⁤nearly universal concern⁣ for minimizing animal suffering.

The research underscores significant gaps in public‌ knowledge about ‌slaughter practices, revealing widespread misconceptions‍ even in countries with stringent animal welfare​ laws. For instance, a substantial⁤ portion of U.S. participants were‌ unaware‍ that pre-slaughter stunning is mandated and routinely practiced. Despite these knowledge gaps, the study ⁢found that compassion for animals is​ a common thread, with ⁢the ⁤majority of participants ⁣across all but ‍one country agreeing that it is important to prevent animal suffering during slaughter.

By exploring these diverse perspectives, the article not⁤ only‌ sheds light​ on the global state of animal welfare⁢ but also calls attention to the need for ⁢better public education‍ and transparency within‍ the food system. The insights gathered from this study offer valuable guidance for policymakers,⁤ animal welfare advocates, and consumers aiming to foster more humane practices in animal slaughter ‌worldwide.

Summary By: Abby Steketee | Original Study By: Sinclair, M., Hotzel, M.J., Lee, N.Y.P., et al. (2023) | Published: May 28, 2024

Perceptions and beliefs about animal slaughter vary by country, but animal welfare during slaughter matters to people around the world.

Over 73 billion animals (excluding fishes) are slaughtered each year worldwide, and approaches to slaughter vary from region to region. For example, in many parts of the world, animals are stunned before slaughter to reduce suffering. Current science suggests that pre-slaughter stunning, when applied correctly, is a best practice to provide some level of welfare during the slaughter process. But in some parts of the world, animals are slaughtered while fully conscious, and the public perception of slaughter in different parts of the world is relatively unknown. In this study, researchers set out to gauge perceptions and knowledge about slaughter around the world.

To capture diverse perspectives, researchers surveyed 4,291 individuals in 14 countries between April and October 2021: Australia (250), Bangladesh (286), Brazil (302), Chile (252), China (249), India (455), Malaysia (262), Nigeria (298), Pakistan (501), Philippines (309), Sudan (327), Thailand (255), the U.K. (254), and the United States (291). The majority (89.5%) of the entire sample reported that they ate animals.

The survey consisted of 24 questions that were translated into languages suitable for the general population in each of the 14 countries. Researchers used two methods to administer the survey: In 11 countries, researchers randomly selected people in public settings to take the survey face-to-face; in three countries, researchers administered the survey online.

One key result of the study was that the majority of participants in all countries except Bangladesh agreed with the statement, “it matters to me that animals do not suffer during slaughter.” The researchers interpreted this result as evidence that compassion for animals is a nearly universal human trait.

Another commonality between countries was a lack of knowledge about slaughter. For example, about one-third of participants in Thailand (42%), Malaysia (36%), the U.K. (36%), Brazil (35%), and Australia (32%) answered that they didn’t know whether animals were fully conscious when slaughtered. Additionally, about 78% of participants in the U.S. were confident that animals weren’t stunned before slaughter even though pre-slaughter stunning is required by law and routinely practiced in the United States. The researchers emphasized that the general public places considerable trust in the food system (e.g., producers, retailers, and governments) despite widespread confusion about slaughter.

Perceptions about slaughter varied from country to country. In each of the following aspects of slaughter, participants rated their comfort, belief, or preference on a scale from 1-7:

  • Comfort in witnessing slaughter—Thailand had the lowest comfort (1.6); Pakistan had the highest (5.3).
  • Belief that pre-slaughter stunning is better for the animal—Pakistan had the lowest belief (3.6); China had the highest (6.1).
  • Belief that pre-slaughter stunning reduces the taste of the animal (i.e., the taste of the “meat”)—Australia had the lowest belief (2.1); Pakistan had the highest (5.2).
  • Preference for eating animals that had been stunned before slaughter—Bangladesh had the lowest preference (3.3); Chile had the highest (5.9).
  • Preference for eating animals that were killed using religious methods for slaughter (i.e., religious reasons for keeping the animal fully conscious at slaughter)—Australia had the lowest preference (2.6); Bangladesh had the highest (6.6).

The researchers suggested that the geographic differences in beliefs reflect complex cultural, religious, and economic factors. An example of a cultural factor is exposure to wet markets in China. An example of a religious factor is the interpretation of halal slaughter in Muslim-majority countries. One economic factor is developmental status: in countries with high poverty such as Bangladesh, concern for addressing human hunger may outweigh concern for animal welfare.

Overall, knowledge and perceptions about slaughter varied by locality—even though concern for reducing animals’ suffering during slaughter was common in 13 out of 14 studies.

This study provides a useful comparison of perceptions about animal slaughter across diverse world regions. However, the study had several limitations. First, the results could be affected by social desirability bias. Second, participant demographics may differ from countries’ overall populations. For example, 23% of Australian participants report that they did not eat animals, but only 12% of the total Australian population does not eat animals. A third limitation is that the study may have failed to capture sub-cultures and sub-regions (e.g., rural versus urban areas). And, fourth, there may have been issues with the survey translations because language related to animal welfare has subtle—but significant—differences.

Despite the limitations, this study shows that there’s a global need to educate people about slaughter.For effective education, animal advocates need to understand regional beliefs and build local collaborations. When connecting with locals, animal advocates can emphasize the common, shared belief that reducing animal suffering during slaughter matters. They can also pay particular attention to regional language related to animal welfare. Within this respectful, collaborative approach, animal advocates can provide accurate information about the reality of slaughter and stunning practices in specific locations and countries.

Notice: This content was initially published on Faunalytics.org and may not necessarily reflect the views of the Humane Foundation.

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