I’ve just learned that I’ve won this year’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) ‘Special Investigation Award’. It’s for my investigation into Halal slaughter in the UK for the Daily Mail newspaper (you can read about it here).
For those of you who don’t know, Halal slaughter involves cutting an animal’s throat while it is still fully conscious. It is, apparently, important in Islam that an animal be fully aware of its own death so that it can hear the prayers of the Imam. Well, that’s the official line anyway. In fact, Mohammed meant Halal slaughter to be an improvement over the existing norms that were around in the Arabian Peninsula 1400 years ago. His aim was to reduce cruelty as far as possible. This fact seems to be lost on some.
I spent six weeks secretly ‘infiltrating’ the slaughterhouse during which I needed every inch of my Mindfulness training. One slip up and I would have been in a great deal of trouble indeed! It was such a horrific story to cover that I needed to spend extra time meditating each day to stop myself feeling chronically cynical and downright miserable. I hate cruelty in all of it’s forms so watching such barbarism right in front of my eyes was very tough indeed. Again, Mindfulness helped me cope.
The RSPCA award is presented in September. It follows hot on the heels of the Humane Society of the United States’ Brigitte Bardot Print Journalism Award that I received in Hollywood in March. It’s been a good year so far! The awarding committee included 100 showbiz folk such as “Twilight” star Peter Facinelli, Sheryl Crow, Ellen DeGeneres, Harrison Ford, Moby, and Viggo Mortensen. And yes, I did have a great time!