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” is an Arabic word that translates to “permissible,” denoting that consuming such 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 has 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. Muslims follow the dietary guidelines outlined in the Qur’an as part of their religious practice.
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 and humanitarian aspects due to the humane treatment of 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 are slaughtered (religious slaughter) to the way the animals are treated.
There are numerous benefits for animals regarding treatment and diet for the animals. 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, where the primary purpose is to maximize profit, resulting in the animals being confined in tight spaces with no outlet to move and roam freely.
Halal Animals raised on Halal farms must also eat well, with no antibiotics and growth hormones. The animals’ vegetarian diet is conceivably the healthiest diet for Halal animals because they are naturally occurring vegetarians.
Unfortunately, the same can not be said for factory farms. As stated previously, the primary 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 many pesticides remain in the corn, which is unhealthy for the animals and, as a result, shows up in the meat 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, eliminating such risks.
What Are 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 and 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 made with pork lard, in which case they would be haram.
While the word usually refers to the food, part of a halal diet is how it 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 challenging 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, or zabiha, is the key component in the halal meat process, resulting in the lawful humane slaughter of the animals.
Zabiha (or zabiha) is a specific word related to permissible meat. Zabiha meat is meat that has been slaughtered according to Islamic guidelines. Zabiha is an Islamic term for the Islamic slaughter of animals.
The (possible) confusion that may arise for some people is with 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 raised, religiously slaughtered (carotid arteries, windpipe, and jugular veins) cut to drain all blood, 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
History and Halal Methods
Muslims are expected to keep their bodies in good health to contribute to humanity, an essential 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 enjoy halal food, perhaps the most significant benefit.
The halal meat process requires many steps to be fulfilled entirely. The animal is taken away from other animals so no 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 halal meat history, the 1990s is when there became a worldwide spike in the public interest in halal meat.
Previously, halal meat was considered a cultural/religious trait rather than a substantial form of processing meat with benefits for 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 blood drainage, preceding the slaughter. Because of this, people started to recognize the clean preparation and care 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 halal meat vs. regular meat’s so-called superiority.
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 don’t know.” More information on this can be found here. Despite the lack of studies to account for the health benefits of Halal meat, many aspects, previously stated, 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 crucial aspect distinguishing halal meat from 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 also removed.
How Are The Animals Raised?
Whether the meat comes from a cow, 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 US are haram because they are usually raised on feed containing animal by-products.
How is Halal Meat Slaughtered?
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 aims to either honor God or kill 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, Muslim, Jewish, or Christian.
- The name of God must be spoken before the cut is made.
- A sharp knife 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.
Does Halal Meat Have Benefits Than Regular Meats
1: Halal Meat Less Likely to be Contaminated
Animals must be entirely drained of their blood after slaughter, eliminating 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 massive protein, zinc, iron, and vitamin B5 source.
Halal meat is also usually found in a more specialized setting, like a halal butcher. A halal diet can be healthier than the traditional alternative because the heart is often available very close to the source.
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 muscle pH levels, 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, a halal diet is part of religious expression, so eating halal-raised meat is 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 motivated by animal welfare, health, or religion, everyone will benefit from tasting it.
Halal meat is currently on the rise for many reasons, not just because of the humane treatment of animals. Halal meat benefits can also be related to taste as it is more tender than regular meat.
The animal will never see another animal slaughtered and is unaware of its fate until its last moments, resulting in the animal being continually relaxed. When an animal is stressed, 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 beef, 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 incorporated into places from gas station burgers, Chinese street food, and high-end restaurants, many European countries have banned 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 before being slaughtered. To many animal rights activists, stunning an animal before 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 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 stunning process is still up for debate whether it abides with the definition of “halal” and is used under certain circumstances, particularly in European countries that outlawed slaughtering animals without stunning.
Halal meat benefits also go beyond the humane treatment of animals and health benefits for consumers. Halal standards are extremely economical and reasonable 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. The wool from the sheep can be used to make textiles and clothing, and cow skin can be used to make leather. Waste is looked down upon, benefiting the environment.
Halal meat is also considered to be processed in an extremely hygienic way. The conditions inside the slaughterhouse are notably strict, and 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 daily, and 50,000 liters of water are used to ensure a hygienic workstation.
Currently, there are no requirements for halal meat to be specifically labeled; Jewish and Muslim leaders agree that there needs to be clearer labeling of meat so consumers are aware of whether animals have been stunned before death and their method of slaughter.
How Widespread Is The Halal Meat Market in The USA
Currently, some products 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 dispersed at supermarkets selling halal products worldwide in numerous countries. Malaysia, the organizer of the World Halal Forum, secured a pledge with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to include guidelines for using the term halal in the Codex Alimentarius to protect it from being misused.
“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. There have been various non-profit organizations dedicated to regulating halal labels.
Overall, Halal-prepared food benefits 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.
Is Halal Meat 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 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. Still, some might consider buying meat unethical unless a suitable alternative exists.
Halal animals must be kept in sanitary conditions, disease-free, 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 is produced with profit rather than the animal’s health in mind. For halal animals, consideration for their well-being is carried to the point of slaughter. Therefore, conscious carnivores might see an ethical benefit in switching from their regular supermarket beef, observing the halal principles.
Halal Meat Delivery
Here at Wehalal, we plan on having the best halal meat, 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 halal meat facility to bring the highest quality meats directly to the consumer. Whether you are Muslim or not, we can all benefit from halal meat delivery.
Is Halal Meat Different From Kosher Meat?
Like Muslims, Jewish people must eat only kosher food or kosher meat that follows 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 also considered kosher, though shellfish are not.
Kosher meat must be slaughtered in a God-honoring process 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 considered halal is meat from an animal slaughtered in a specific way. The animal must be alive and healthy when slaughtered, and a Muslim must do the slaughtering process. 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 by Islamic law. This means the animal must be healthy and conscious when killed, and its blood must be drained from the carcass. Halal meat is also often processed to make it more digestible for Muslims. For example, the skin and fat are usually removed, and the meat is soaked in water and spices overnight before being cooked.
3: What is meant by halal?
The term “halal” refers to permissible food 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 halal foods.
4: Why is halal meat better for you?
Halal meat is considered better for you because the animals are slaughtered in a specific way 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 halal food production. This means that all ingredients used in halal food are free from cross-contamination, which can often be problematic with non-halal foods.