What is Halal Meat? History, Process, and Guidelines
Halal meat is a type of meat prepared under certain conditions prescribed in the Quran, according to islamic law.
The term “halal” i an arabic word which translates to “permissible” denoting that the consumption of such type of meat is acceptable or lawful under Islamic law.
What is Halal Meat?
These days, the word “halal” might remind someone of any vaguely Middle Eastern cuisine.
However, there is much more to halal than the familiar dishes from your favorite takeout restaurant.
Halal, specifically, is associated with Islam, the world’s fastest-growing religion. With over a billion followers worldwide, the rise in Islam had led to an increased necessity to connect Muslims with halal food sources, which explains why the term is seemingly everywhere.
Halal foods refer to a category of foods that are allowable under Islamic law. As part of their religious practice, Muslims follow the dietary guidelines outlined in the Qur’an.
These foods are referred to as halal, which means “lawful” or “permitted” in Arabic. The opposite of halal is haram.
This type of meat does not include pork or alcohol of any kind. Halal meat delivery is on the rise, for many reasons including health benefits as well as humanitarian aspects due to the humane treatment of the animals before and during slaughter.
Halal Meat is, in fact, one of the best types of meat on the market, from the way the animals slaughtered (religious slaughter) to the way the animals are treated.
There are numerous benefits for animals regarding treatment and diet for the animals. In order for an animal to be considered “halal”, the animal must have lived a “pure life” which essentially means the animal is given space to roam freely.
This can be starkly contrasted to factory farms in which the main purpose is to maximize profit, resulting in the animals being confined in tight spaces, with no outlet to move, and roam freely.
Halal Animal raised on Halal farms must also eat well, with no antibiotics and growth hormones. The animals’ diet is vegetarian food, which is conceivably the healthiest diet for the Halal animals because they are naturally occurring vegetarians.
Unfortunately, the same can not be said for factory farms. As stated previously, the main purpose is to maximize profit at the expense of the health of the animals and as a result, the consumers who eat the meat.
Often, the animals are fed corn but there are usually many pesticides that remain in the corn which is unhealthy for the animals and as a result, shows up in the meat that is sold.
Factory farms also use certain hormones such as recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), which increases milk production when injected into cows.
The main health risk that occurs because of this rBGH has led to an increase in the production of the insulin-like growth factor (IGF) which can be harmful to humans after consumption because it mimics the human growth hormone.
As a result, this can lead to higher risks of prostate and breast cancer. Halal animals are never fed food containing pesticides or growth hormones, thereby eliminating such risks.
Brief Intro to Halal Food
Generally speaking, most foods are considered halal except for certain types of animals and animal protein.
Halal foods include all birds, locusts, some land animals, fruits and vegetables, dairy, and eggs. Aquatic animals, such as fish, shellfish, and other types of seafood, are halal and safe for Muslims and non muslims to eat.
Animals with fangs or talons are haram, as well as land animals lacking external ears, such as reptiles.
Animal blood, gelatin, and alcohol are also considered haram. Processed food products must also be free from haram ingredients. For example, tortillas can be halal, unless they have been made with pork lard, in which case they would be haram.
While the word usually refers to the food itself, part of a halal diet is how the food is prepared. The utensils and cooking vessels must be halal as well.
While this might not be a problem for a regular kitchen in a normal Muslim home, it can be a challenge for restaurants, where cross-contamination with haram foods is more likely to happen. Restaurants serving Muslim customers must pay special attention to their utensils, pots, and food storage system
What is Zabiha Halal Meat?
Dhabīḥah, otherwise known as zabiha, is the key component in the halal meat process, resulting in the lawful humane slaughter of the animals.
Zabiha (or zabihah) is a specific word related to the meat that is permissible to eat. Zabiha meat is meat that has been slaughtered according to Islamic guidelines. Zabiha is a specific term for the Islamic slaughter of animals.
The (possible) confusion that may arise for some people is with the use of the term “halal meat”. i.e. going to the halal meat store to get some meat.
In this context “halal meat” refers to Islamically slaughtered meat — i.e by zabiha standards.
To be considered zabiha halal, the meat must come from an animal that has been raised, religious slaughtered, and prepared following the Qur’an’s guidelines.
The animal itself must also be halal. Some species of animals, like pigs and domesticated donkeys, are forbidden by the Qur’an, as well as animals that weren’t slaughtered following halal guidelines.
Therefore, pork can never be halal because pigs are considered haram animals to begin with. Neither can beef from a cow raised in a commercial, haram setting.
Also Read: What is Halal Food? Plus Guides and Customs
Halal Meat: History and Halal Methods
Muslims are expected to keep their bodies in good health so they can contribute to humanity, which is an important part of their practice. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that in some cases, halal foods can be healthier than regular, commercially produced meat.
Fortunately, non muslims also tend to enjoy halal food, which is perhaps the greatest benefit of all.
The halal meat process requires many steps in order to be completely fulfilled. The animal is taken away from other animals so no other animal witnesses the slaughter.
The halal method or halal practices of the process are: Prayer is also said over the animals killed, and a blade is used to cut the jugular of the animal resulting in a swift death, usually lasting no longer than two minutes, and the blade is concealed until it is deemed necessary, so the animal is not aware of its fate.
When looking at the halal meat history, the 1990s is when there became a worldwide spike in the public interest in halal meat.
Prior, halal meat was looked at as a cultural/religious trait rather than a substantial form of processing meat with benefits for the animals and humans alike. A breakout of Mad Cows
Disease resulting from improper butchering techniques caused widespread panic.
Halal meat was exempt from this due to the proper precautions taken when handling the meat, and complete drainage of blood foregoing the slaughter. Because of this, people started to recognize the clean preparation and care that was taken with halal meat.
It is crucial to note that throughout halal meat history, there has never been a widespread outbreak and this is due to the careful techniques used when butchering the animals.
Some researchers are still skeptical about the so-called superiority of halal meat vs regular meat. In fact, Carol O’Neil, professor of nutrition and food sciences at Louisiana State University Agricultural Center states “There are certainly no studies done looking at people who consume Halal meat to see if their cholesterol levels are different, or anything like that.
We just don’t know.” More information on this can be found here. Despite the lack of studies done to account for the health benefits of Halal meat, there are many aspects, previously stated that show the health benefits such as a clean diet for the animals without pesticides and growth hormones, which directly contribute to the consumer’s health.
One important aspect that distinguishes halal meat vs regular meat is the blood drainage from the animal.
The draining of the blood from the animal has several benefits, the first being that the risk of consuming harmful bacteria, e-coli poisoning, and other toxic substances such as uric acid is significantly reduced.
These substances travel through the bloodstream, and since the blood is removed from halal meat, these harmful substances are subsequently removed as well.
Raising the Animal
Whether the meat comes from a cow or goat or hen, the animal must first be looked after humanely with no history of abuse.
This is because of the Muslim belief that all life is a sacred blessing from God. The animals must also be fed a natural, vegetarian diet. Most beef and chicken in the U.S. are therefore haram because they are usually raised on feed containing animal by-products.
Slaughtering the Animal
Because an animal’s life is considered sacred, Muslims are compelled to bring that life to an end in an honorable way. Each ritual in the process of halal slaughter has the goal of either honoring God or killing the animal with as little suffering as possible. The rules in Islam for slaughtering animals are:
- The animal must be healthy and cared for well.
- The slaughterer must be sane, an adult, and either a Muslim, Jewish, or Christian person.
- The name of God must be spoken before the cut is made.
- The blade must be sharp enough to sever the throat with one cut.
- The animal must be completely drained of blood by hanging upside-down.
- The animal must not see the blade or other animals being slaughtered.
- The animal must be prayed over once the slaughter has been completed.
Benefits of Halal Meats
1: Halal Meat Less Likely to be Contaminated
Animals must be drained completely of their blood after slaughter, which eliminates any blood-borne illnesses that might contaminate the meat. Clean, sanitary environments reduce the chances of sickness.
Halal-raised animals are also free from the risks of commercial animal feed. Once the meat is processed, there must be a traceable record of where the meat came from to be considered halal. Due to these factors, this type of meat is less vulnerable to disease contamination.
2: Halal is Healthier
Along with being disease-free, the meat retains its nutritional benefits. Red meat is a huge source of protein, zinc, iron, and vitamin B5.
Halal meat specifically is also usually found in a more specialized setting, like a halal butcher. Because the meat is often available very close to the source, a halal diet can be healthier than the traditional alternative.
3: Halal Tastes Better
Surprisingly, this type of meat even tastes better than its regular counterpart. Blood in meat can lead to putrefaction, affecting its freshness.
Also, stressed animals have higher pH levels in their muscles, which results in tougher meat. Raising halal animals entails maintaining clean, low-stress environments, so the meat is usually tender, fresh, and tasty.
4: Halal is Good for the Soul
For Muslims, keeping a halal diet is part of religious expression, so eating halal-raised meat is quite literally good for the soul.
That doesn’t keep the rest of the world from enjoying the same goodness. If there is a way to eat humanely farmed meat that’s healthy and also tastes good, it can be good for anyone’s soul.
Whether they are motivated by animal welfare, health, or religion, everyone will benefit something from tasting it.
Halal meat is currently on the rise for many reasons and it’s not just because of the humane treatment of animals. Halal meat benefits can also be related to taste as it is considered to be more tender than regular meat.
The animal will never see another animal slaughtered and is unaware of its fate until its last moments of life, resulting in the animal being in a continual relaxed state. When an animal is in a state of stress, lactic acid is produced in the muscles causing tension.
Because the process of halal meat results in as little stress as possible for the animal, the meat tends to be more tender. Along with tender meat, the seasoning of the meat is better expressed due to the lack of iron resulting from the blood being completely drained from the meat.
Although Halal meat is now being incorporated into places from gas station burgers, Chinese street food, and high-end restaurants, there are many countries in Europe that have banned the ritual slaughter such as Iceland, Norway, Belgium, and Switzerland.
These countries often don’t see the halal meat benefits for animals and find it inhumane because the process does not stun the animal prior to being slaughtered. To many animal rights activists, stunning an animal prior to slaughtering them is the most humane way to butcher an animal.
The process of stunning animals includes rendering the animal unconscious either through “blunt force, electric shocks, gassing or a steel bolt that penetrates an animal’s skull”, according to The New York Times.
This process is actually considered to cause the animal more pain than the Halal ritual of slaughtering the animal, thereby making the halal slaughter process the most humane.
The process of stunning is still up for debate whether it abides with the definition of “halal” and is used under certain circumstances, particularly in the countries in Europe that outlawed the practice of slaughtering the animals without stunning.
Halal meat benefits also go beyond the humane treatment of animals, and health benefits for the consumers. Halal standards are extremely economical and judicious in terms of using the entirety of the animal rather than just the meat.
Often, the bones are used to make broth, and it is not uncommon for organs to be eaten as well. The wool from the sheep can be used to make textiles and clothing and cow skin can be used to make leather. It is apparent that waste is looked down upon, which is also beneficial to the environment.
Halal meat is also considered to be processed in an extremely hygienic way. The conditions inside the slaughterhouse are notably strict and in order to enter layers upon layers of clothing must be worn to avoid inadvertently contaminating the meat.
The blade used to slaughter the animals is remarkably sharp, this is important because the sharper the knife, the less the animal suffers.
The blade is also put in boiling water prior, ensuring the removal of all bacteria. The floor is kept clean as daily, 50,000 liters of water are used to ensure a hygienic work station.
Currently, there are no requirements for halal meat to be specifically labeled, which Jewish and Muslim leaders agree that there needs to be more clear labeling of meat, so consumers are aware whether animals have been stunned before death and their method of slaughter.
Halal Meat Market
As of now, some products, which are located in non-muslim countries, can often be discernible if they are halal, denoted with the green or black halal symbol, or by the letter M.
The amount of products labeled “halal” has increased significantly since the 1990s. Through becoming an international standard, halal has extended to other products including cosmetics, medicine, and dessert products.
Halal products can be seen dispersed at supermarkets selling halal products around the world in numerous countries. In fact, Malaysia, which is the organizer of the World Halal Forum, secured a pledge with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to include guidelines for the use of the term halal in the Codex Alimentarius, to protect it from being used inappropriately.
“Tell me what you eat and I’ll tell you what you are” is summed up perfectly by the French gastronome, Brillat-Savarin. Regardless of the context, it highlights the need for people to know where their food is coming from.
That is why halal labels need to be transparent, in fact, there have been various non-profit organizations dedicated to regulating halal labels.
Overall, Halal prepared food is in numerous ways beneficial to the environment, animals, and consumers, and it is important to think about the ecological footprint that the food we are eating is making.
Halal goes beyond the scope of religion and is essential in making the environment cleaner for future generations.
Halal Meat is More Ethical
The meat industry is most criticized for its treatment of animals. However, animal cruelty isn’t the only pitfall of buying commercial meat.
History has also shown that commercializing meat production has come with other ethical implications, such as fair labor wages and environmental health. However, meat is still an important part of the human diet, and many people can’t eliminate it completely from their diets. Still, some people might consider it unethical to buy meat unless a suitable alternative exists.
Halal animals must be kept in sanitary conditions, free of disease, and slaughtered quickly and humanely.
Its welfare is already assumed, as governed by the Qur’an. On the other hand, most of the meat in American stores are produced with profit, rather than the animal’s health, in mind. For halal animals, consideration for their well-being is carried all the way to the point of slaughter. Therefore, carnivores with a conscience might see an ethical benefit in making the switch from their regular supermarket beef thereby observing the halal principles.
Halal Meat Delivery
Here at Wehalal, we plan on having the best selection of halal meat in which we deliver online straight to your doorsteps.
The benefits of buying halal meat online are tremendous and we hope to continue to work and develop relationships with the best halal meat suppliers in the country.
We also plan on opening our own halal meat facility in order to bring the highest quality meats directly to the consumer. Whether you are Muslim or not we can all benefit from halal meat delivery.
Halal vs. Kosher
Like Muslims, Jewish people must eat only kosher food or kosher meat that follow the rules of the Torah. Kosher animals must have cloven hooves and chew cud. This limits meat options to beef, mutton, lamb, and venison. Poultry and fish with both scales and fish are considered kosher as well, though shellfish are not.
Kosher meat must be slaughtered in a God-honoring process that’s similar to halal slaughter practices. Namely, the animals must also be slaughtered humanely and drained of blood. Because of this, some Muslims consider meat labeled “kosher” safe to eat. Learn more about the difference between Kosher and Halal meat
Halal Meat FAQ
1: What meat is halal?
Meat that is considered halal is meat that comes from an animal that has been slaughtered in a specific way. The animal must be alive and healthy when it’s slaughtered, and the slaughtering process must be done by someone who is Muslim. The animal’s blood must also be drained completely before it’s butchered.
2: What is the difference between meat and halal meat?
Halal meat is meat that has been slaughtered in accordance with Islamic law. This means that the animal must be healthy and conscious when it’s killed, and that its blood must be drained from the carcass.Halal meat is also often processed in a way that makes it more digestible for Muslims. For example, the skin and fat are usually removed, and the meat is then soaked in water and spices overnight before being cooked.
3: What is meant by halal?
The term “halal” refers to food that is permissible according to Islamic law. Foods that are considered halal include meat that has been slaughtered in accordance with Islamic rules, as well as fruits, vegetables, and other items. One of the key requirements for a food to be considered halal is that it must not contain any traces of pork or pork products. In addition, certain ingredients and processes (such as the use of alcohol in flavorings) are not allowed in foods that are considered halal.
4: Why is halal meat better for you?
Halal meat is considered better for you because the animals are slaughtered in a specific way that is deemed humane and sacred by Islamic law. The method of slaughtering an animal must be quick and without pain, which is why halal meat is considered to be more ethical. In addition, halal certification prohibits the use of any pork or pork-based products in the production of halal food. This means that all ingredients used in halal food are free from cross contamination, which can often be a problem with non-halal foods.