RETAIL giant Lidl has been slammed by Europe's largest vegetarian organisation for offering reindeer meat to Christmas shoppers. Viva! are calling on the company to withdraw sales of the meat, due to the cruelty inherent in modern forms of herding, as well as slaughter methods that may be illegal in the UK. Due to increasing demand for reindeer meat, traditional methods of herding in Siberia and Nordic countries where they are found, have given way to chasing reindeer on snowmobiles and motorcycles, as well as helicopters. This and lassoing, according to animal welfare experts, causes huge amount of stress for these animals. They can become so distraught that their muscle may literally waste away. Lidl are currently stocking 'Siberian reindeer leg steaks'. Viva! campaigns manager, Justin Kerswell, says: “We are very concerned about the exploitation of wild animals for meat. As well as being chased by snowmobiles, and perhaps even by helicopters, their misery doesn't end there. Siberian reindeer may be being killed in a way that could be illegal in the UK, by having their spinal column severed with a sharp implement. This could take several attempts and may cause paralysis which may not immediately be fatal, and may potentially cause a long, lingering and painful death. More than 70 per cent of all reindeer slaughtered for meat are calves that have grazed during the summer, which means they never even get to see snow. Mr Kerswell adds: “When most people in the UK think of reindeer they think of Christmas, so it is shocking to think that most reindeer killed for meat never even see the snow and are turned into 'novelty' meat products. “Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, can anyone really justify this torment for just a bit of twisted festive fun' We urge consumers to reject reindeer meat, and for Lidl to set an ethical example of goodwill by dropping it from their stores. Of course, eating any animal causes suffering, so please consider going veggie this Christmas. Contact Viva! for free veggie festive recipes on 0117 944 1000 or visit www.viva.org./christmas. ENDS For more information about this media release, contact press officer Helen Rossiter or Justin Kerswell on 0117 944 1000 or email email@example.com. Notes for editors National campaigning group Viva! distinguished itself when it persuaded all Britain's 1,500 supermarkets to drop the sale of kangaroo and other 'exotic meats'. Viva! is the largest vegetarian and vegan campaigning organisation in Europe. Founder and director Juliet Gellatley was presented with the Australian Wildlife Protection Council award for services to wildlife in 1998. Lidl list Siberian reindeer steaks in their new 'Luxury for All' catalogue: http://www.lidl-magic.co.uk/'id=19 Slaughter methods: The Reindeer People by Piers Vitesbsky (in Sebyan Siberia): “... to the slaughterhouse on the edge of the village where men lasso the animals one by one and stab them at the base of the skull, causing immediate death. (pg 73: http://books.google.co.uk/books'id=CqevpWQT3RAC&printsec=frontcover&dq=r...). Siberian use of snowmobiles to herd: The Reindeer People by Piers Vitebsky: http://books.google.co.uk/books'id=CqevpWQT3RAC&printsec=frontcover&dq=r...) The following is Swedish - not Siberian - research, but its findings would be hold true: http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi'artid=1410727 Claes Rehbinder† and Jann Hau Division of Comparative Medicine, Department of Neuroscience, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden. "During the past 40 years, the traditional intensive methods of herding relatively tame animals have been replaced by extensive methods involving motor vehicles such as snowmobiles and motorcycles, as well as helicopters for herding almost wild animals (1). New directives concerning hygienic standards in Sweden have resulted in the closing of small local abattoirs and transport of the reindeer by truck over long distances (sometimes more than 1000 km) for slaughter. The quality of reindeer meat deteriorates after stress (2). Some handling methods, such as the traditional lasso technique for sorting, cause considerable physical and mental stress, leading to depletion of muscle glycogen (3). The increasing stress associated with herding, corralling, and physical restraint of less and less tame animals results in lesions and elevated blood cortisol concentrations (4). With increased concern about compromised well-being of the reindeer (5), there is a need for objective measures of stress and animal welfare." The following highlights the tragic fact that most reindeer killed for meat in Sweden (and most likely Siberia) do not even see snow: http://www.foodanddrinkeurope.com/Consumer-Trends/Anyone-for-a-reindeer-... Food and Drink Europe "More than 70 per cent of reindeer slaughtered for meat are calves that have grazed on summer pastures and not endured a harsh winter during which the animals use up fat reserves."