You have most likely seen the word ‘halal’ and it’s opposite ‘haram’ used in the food space. But what do they really mean. If you are curious, dive into our quick guide on halal food.
What exactly is halal food?
Halal is an Arabic word that means permissible. In food terms, halal is that which has been deemed OK to eat according to the Muslim holy book, that is, the Quran. Halal food pertains to not just certain types of food and animals but how animals bred for meat are treated. Haram on the other hand means forbidden. If food is haram, it should not be eaten by the faithful.
According to Islamic practices, animals should be treated with respect and this includes how they are slaughtered. They should be slaughtered in ways that limit the amount of pain they will face. A very very sharp knife that severs the jugular vein, carotid artery and the windpipe is used to ensure that the slaughter process is quick.
It is also stated that animals should be healthy and should be fed before they are slaughtered. If a number of animals is to be slaughtered, this is done one animal at a time. If not, the animal being slaughtered should face away from the group. Animals should not witness the killing of other animals.
Since blood is one of those items considered haram, a slaughtered animal is hang to drain it of blood. In the more traditional slaughterhouses, only a Muslim butcher is allowed to do the slaughter and every animal is blessed before.
Where can I get halal meat?
There are certain eateries and restaurants that serve only halal food. You can also buy food that is certified halal from a supermarket. It should have a label citing the certifying body.
Aside from the religious, this method appeals to meat eaters who are concerned with the humane treatment of the animals.
What is the opposite of halal?
Haram on the other hand are foods that are not prepared according to these standards. Even though pork is the most common of haram foods, they also include carnivores or animals that eat meat too. Blood and blood by products are also considered haram. That means no blood sausage. Alcohol is another item that is widely known to be haram.
Some examples of halal foods
The range of halal foods that you can get at any restaurant is vast. They include goat, beef, lamb, antelope and chicken. Away from meats, cereals, dairy, fruits and vegetables are all halal. They should however be packaged without alcohol and any meat products that are considered haram.
At a specialized halal restaurant you can get an even wider selection of; falafels, Shawarma, kebabs, as well as none meat items like pita chips. It can be very easy to follow a halal diet as a lot of dishes, including Middle Eastern dishes fall into that category.
Is halal meat healthier?
No studies have been done to support this. However, some people believe that the method of slaughter, particularly draining of blood makes for a healthier meat.
Is a halal diet only for Muslims?
Not at all. While it is mandated for practicing Muslims, anyone can adopt a halal diet if they so choose.