Ritual Slaughter…

WARNING: There are graphic photos below, viewer discretion is advised.  🙂


Although it’s a bit gruesome, there is something comforting about watching a live goat transformed into cutlets in under an hour. Its really reaffirms the idea of knowing where your food comes from and I was somewhat reassured to have proof that the meat I see in the supermarket actually does come from an animal.  Or at least that it is possible to take an animal and turn it into something I could potentially find in the frozen food aisle.

Eid is the annual commemoration of Abraham’s sacrifice of his son Ishmael. To mark the holiday every Muslim is supposed to perform his own ritual slaughter. In Oman, most families will slaughter a goat, sheep, cow or camel, depending on family tradition and size. In the days leading up to Eid it was a common sight to see pickup trucks with livestock loaded into the back and the government even set up a mobile slaughterhouse in my neighborhood in an effort to accommodate demand and prevent people from performing the slaughter in their homes. According to the Muscat Daily newspaper the mobile slaughterhouse was very successful however it is something that my family did not choose to take advantage of.

In my naïveté I didn’t realize that the two goats my host father brought home were probably not part of a local petting zoo or the pets of neighbors. Even once I understood that they didn’t have a very bright future I assumed that the actual killing would take place somewhere else. It wasn’t until I spotted the knives that I realized what was about to happen in our own backyard.

My family didn’t do the actual dirty work; according to Islam it is acceptable to have someone perform the slaughter for you if you aren’t confident in your ability to kill the animal in a way that will insure it is halal or permissible for Muslims.

Watching the butchers do their work calmly and quickly was quite an interesting experience. I felt bad for the goats but it was also intriguing to see how they did the job, first removing the skin then hanging the carcass on the clothesline to let the blood drain before cutting it into more manageable pieces.

Although I was somewhere in between shock, disgust and amazement my family was totally calm and my three-year-old brother happily ran circles around the chunks of meat being placed into a big plastic tub.

I’m glad I had the opportunity to watch, its something I can now cross off my bucket list, but I’m also so glad I’m a vegetarian and had an excuse not to eat the meat. I was assured that it was delicious but I was don’t think I would have been able to get the image of the live goats out of my head.


My host dad with the goat head

My host dad with the goat head




1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Rena
    Oct 23, 2013 @ 17:14:35

    Thanks for all your posts! This one reminded me of a similar experience — when I was working at the Thomas Farm, they slaughtered two pigs right where I was attempting to make flower arrangements. Like you, I felt a mixture of respect for the people eating animals in this way, while being VERY glad I am a vegetarian! Hope this only happens once a year 🙂

    It is really fun to read of your adventures… keep those posts coming!
    Love to you!


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