Belgium has officially banned kosher and halal animal slaughtering methods, prompting lawsuits from Jewish and Muslim leaders in the country who say the ban amounts to religious discrimination.
Jewish and Muslim traditions require animals to be in perfect health when they are slaughtered, a requirement that clashes with some European laws that require animals to be incapable of feeling pain when they are killed. Most European countries offer religious exemptions that allow for the production of halal and kosher meat.
But Belgium on the first day of the new year instituted a ban on ritual slaughter, which was promoted both by animal advocates and right-wing nationalists, The New York Times reported.
Jewish and Muslim communities in the country will now likely have to import meat from Hungary and the Netherlands, which will cost more money, Israeli news station i24 News reported.
There are reportedly around 30,000 Jews and 500,000 Muslims in Belgium.
Religious activists in the country have argued that the halal and kosher methods of killing animals are less painful and more humane.