This weekend, Muslims around the world are celebrating Eid al-Adha, "The Festival of the Sacrifice." As Islam's biggest holiday, it marks the end of hajj season and commemorates the biblical story of Abraham, who was instructed by God to sacrifice his son Ishmael. When God intervened at the last second, Abraham offered up a lamb instead.
And, just as they have been for centuries, millions of sheep, goats, cows, and camels will be slaughtered this holiday, with the meat being distributed to friends, family, and the needy, many of whom don't consume meat on a regular basis. (It is, however, a particularly rough time of year for Muslims who are vegetarian by choice.)
To put that in perspective, approximately 45 million turkeys are slaughtered each year for Thanksgiving in the United States alone. But the factory farm system allows Americans to outsource the bloodshed and pick up a shrink-wrapped and diapered monster bird in the supermarket with nary a thought of its provenance.
But because the qurbani, or sacrifice, is an intimate affair on Eid, people get up close and personal with their meal, and there is plenty of opportunity to take a few Instagrams of the condemned. If we're happy to do it with a dead animal, why not a live one?