Thoughts on economics and liberty

Cows (and other animals we use for food) must be killed without cruelty

The problem with libertarians is this: that they refuse to acknowledge that left to its own devices, the market will often take short-cuts in its reckless pursuit of wealth. These short-cuts can cause people to die (that's why we need regulation of workplace health and safety), and animals to be brutally treated. 

While we need the broad principle of laissez faire to start all discussion of policy, we do need good regulation to underpin the market. The classical liberal insists on good regulation: which is neither excessive nor too little.

A case in point is the recent discovery by Australia of the brutal way cows are slaughtered in some of Indonesia's abattoirs. The full documentary (45 minutes) is found here (click on the left) [I have not seen it]. A brief summary video is provided below, announcing the halt of live exports to these abattoirs from Australia:


I first thought that this might be a halal method, but it is not, as an Indonesian cleric has since confirmed (here).

In other words, the concerned abattoirs are not compliant either with world-best practice on animal welfare, or even the Islamic tradition of halal.

This confirms clearly that a civilised society MUST have in place a good regulatory framework that ensures that world-best practice is enforced. As I note in the draft manuscript, The Discovery of Freedom:

"animal and plant life is our food (and in many cases, our medicine). The use of other life forms as sources of our life energy is based on basic biological reality – provided we don’t eat an entire species into extinction (which can’t happen with privatised ownership of such life forms).[1] But note that no justification exists for inflicting undue pain on any creature. Animals that are consumed should not be treated with unnecessary cruelty."

I also know for certain that similar things occur in India, where animals are treated and slaughtered in a barbaric manner. That's unacceptable. I have called for the proper regulation of India's abattoirs earlier, and I think this is a wake-up call for India as well. Such brutality can give rise to great abhorrence for meat eating. The adverse health consequences of that can include an increase in anaemia. Lean red meat (in moderation, of course) also reduces the risk of heart disease.

[1] Morell, Virginia, ‘Island Ark: A Threatened Treasure’, National Geographic, August 2008, p.82. This article discusses how drills (a rare monkey) are potentially being eaten to extinction in Boko Island, Equatorial Guinea.

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2 thoughts on “Cows (and other animals we use for food) must be killed without cruelty
  1. Shravan

    Is it possible to kill a human for whatever purpose without cruelty? If no then how can anyone kill any animal without cruelty?
    Eat meat if you want, just do not say you are not being cruel to the animal you kill to enjoy it's meat.

  2. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    That’s a valid view. It is not possible to kill any any creature without at least some cruelty. That’s why modern abattoirs go to great lengths to minimise cruelty. Pl. refer to the recent debates about live export of cattle from Australia to Indonesia (or see this:

    Note, however, since the human body is designed for (and adapted to) meat eating (that’s why humans have managed to spread across the world even in places where NO vegetable is available, e.g. the Eskimos), and we are part of nature, then some (minimal) amount of cruelty is unavoidable when humans eat other animals. But that is the law of nature. All humans can do is to minimise cruelty.

    Second it is by eating certain animals that there are economies of scale in growing them – hence preserving them. If humans were allowed to eat (or otherwise consume) tigers, then the tiger population in the world would multiply dramatically. See:

    There is therefore merit in humans eating animals: for such animals have an assured guarantee of survival. Those animals which humans don’t eat can easily die away in obscurity.

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