You asked if I would rather be awake or asleep when I die. Well, to be truthful, I hope to be awake. It’s a major milestone in my life, my very last moments, and for better or for worse I want to be there, wide awake, stone-cold sober, and totally aware of what’s happening. Death is the most universal experience of life, the one shared by all living, not just humans. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
As for the religious slaughter of animals, on the scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the cruelest, and 10 being the most humane, Koshering an animal is more of a 8 or a 9, comparatively.
Take into consideration an animal being taken in the wild for food. Often times they suffer for many hours. From the Serenghetti there were many reports of hearing herbivore screams throughout the night while they were disembowled and eaten alive by Hyeanas. Even the standard of American hunting is cruel in comparison, if one considers the feeling of pain experienced by a bullet exploding through your lungs and heart, dropping you to your knees, to slowly expire over a period of minutes. Oftentimes shot animals need to be tracked down, as they keep flight even with mortal wounds.
And nature itself is not kind. I have found fledgelings cast from their nest by parents who deem them not fit; it simply happens, and as they chirp for help the ants already move in to complete the deed. The African river crawling with crocodiles awaiting the wildebeast herd, the herd driven to cross the maw of death, many maimed and dying some days later. Perhaps they are the lucky ones, for the coming drought is a killer too, and hardly kind.
Perhaps a tamer view would be to see the positive side of the religious act. Perhaps it could be viewed as offering thanks for the sustenance received; food for our tables, hide for clothes and tools; our connection to the real world. The religious law does not allow an automation; the animal must be seen dying, it must be witnessed at its passing, and a prayer of thanks must be recited.
Which is crueler, a future with a fully automated animal harvesting system, that achieves a perfectly comfortable death with no human ever even being aware or seeing the death caused by our appetities? Or a world that forces a human to be present, and his hands to bloodied, by every choice to take an animals life? When examining the possibility of these choices, and knowing how far we will go to achieve the ease of our species, religious slaughter begins to look like divine intervention for the sake of the slaughtered, and the conscience of the slaughterer.
You ended asking if one would want to be aware at their death. I believe most will answer no, as they no more want to be aware of their own death as they do of any other’s – including the lives of those they serve for dinner.