By Jai Rustgi
(CHAKRA) Jhatka meat is unheard of by majority of the Hindu/Sikh population in the western world. When an individual is heard asking, “Is your meat jhatka?” at a restaurant, house gathering or any other public setting, he/she is met with a blank stare followed by a question, “What is that?”
Jhatka meat is in essence the direct opposite of halal or kosher meat. The defining element of jhatka meat is the mere fact that the animal to be consumed is killed by a single strike or blow to the head in order to fulfill a principle of minimal pain. In other words the method by which an animal is killed to be prescribed as ‘jhatka’ is the exact opposite of kosher or halal meat, which involves a ritual slicing of the throat causing a slow and painful death whilst a prayer is recited. In theory, most western methods of animal killings for the purpose of meat are done with an instant blow to the head which can be interpreted as ‘jhatka’ meat. This could make it acceptable for some practicing Hindus & Sikhs to classify bolt-gun killed animals as ‘jhatka’ meat.
In the Hindu and Sikh philosophies, any type of ritualism is seldom associated with the slaughtering of an animal because it is not believed that the animal is “spiritualized” through such a process. Instead, an instantaneous severing of the head takes away the life of an animal in a second allowing it no time to realize or feel any pain.
Although jhatka meat is sold widely across predominantly Hindu areas where the demand exists for such meat, it is not very familiar to most individuals who indulge in meat. Not only is a prayer or God disassociated with the killing of any animal, but the source of meat known as jhatka can be consumed knowing that the animal meat being eaten died devoid of physical pain.
Jhatka meat has not become a mainstream concept like halal and kosher meat only because Hindu’s and Sikh’s themselves are unaware of what it is or its existence. The more it is acknowledged and requested any and every time meat is on the menu, the more renowned it will become. It is not just a matter of upholding a belief or practice of Sikhism/Hinduism but the practice is righteous in itself.
A vegetarian, vegan, or animal rights activist may argue that killing animals to make available as meat for consumption is immoral, period. There is no denying that this is true. The butchery of any animal is a transgression of ethical behaviour. However, in a society like ours where meat is a staple food, a form of transition is necessary to evolve overtime into a society, which abstains from the consumption of meat. Participating in the consumption of jhatka meat can be a part of this transition that is required towards a society that is more conscious for the well being of animals. We can start by demanding meat that is jhatka, hence meat that was created with little or no pain to the animal. The key is to start somewhere.