Halal vs Vegan: Understanding the Differences
Some people may wonder if halal food and vegan food are similar. The reality is that folks who adhere to these diets have to avoid specific foods.
What makes things even more confusing for Muslims and vegans is that many of the foods labeled halal look vegan, and a lot of vegan food seems to be halal.
While some things overlap, there are key differences.
Is All Vegan Food Halal?
Now, is vegan halal? The answer is usually yes, but it’s important to recognize that this isn’t always the case.
The main reason no one can say that vegan food is always halal deals with alcohol. To a vegan, alcohol poses no real issues, but to a Muslim, alcohol consumption is not halal.
A number of vegan recipes contain alcohol, which is not halal.
These vegan foods contain things like soy sauce or vanilla extract.
Okay, so why is most vegan food halal? To answer that question, you have to understand what is halal. In essence, it’s food that isn’t prohibited by Islamic law.
The foods prohibited by Islamic law usually focus on animal products.
Since vegans don’t eat meat, it’s easy to see why vegan foods are more than likely going to be safe for a person who wants halal foods, except for alcohol, which is vegan but not halal.
Many Muslims know what is vegan food, and it’s the reason many usually order vegan or vegetarian foods in restaurants.
If they choose these foods, they likely won’t eat anything considered haram. Not many restaurants offer halal foods, but a lot of places offer vegan and vegetarian dishes.
Digging Into Halal
Many people know that Muslims avoid pork. While this is true, it’s an incomplete assessment of halal foods.
The reality is that Muslims will also avoid any meat from an animal that wasn’t killed in the right way.
Islamic law contains specific instructions on how animals must be killed, which makes them halal. Keep in mind that this includes other animal products as well, like animal fats, which is often used in countless recipes.
If an animal is halal, then it’s slaughtered in a specific way. For one, the killing is done in the name of God.
This means the person doing the slaughter has to not only believe in God but say “bismillah” as the deed is performed. This word means “in the name of God,” and it recognizes that God provides and honors the animal’s sacrifice.
It goes beyond this though. The person doing the deed must be an adult Muslim with a clear and healthy mind. When the slaughter occurs the animal is slashed across the throat with a sharp knife.
The sharpness of the knife is confirmed before it’s used. The animal must not suffer, and a blunt knife would cause unnecessary suffering. While a Muslim can eat meat, the meat has to be halal.
A person following a strict halal diet would have to ask many questions before consuming meat in a restaurant.
It’s easy to see why some would rather skip all that and just go for a vegan or vegetarian dish. This also highlights the reason these two diets are sometimes considered the same, even if they’re not.
While no one debates alcohol being haram, some folks contest products like vanilla or some sauces that contain traces of alcohol.
As mentioned earlier, some vegan dishes contain a little alcohol or wine. Folks who are strict avoid these dishes, but some people don’t think traces of alcohol make something haram.
More Haram Food That’s Also Vegan
Okay, so now you know that even though alcohol is vegan, it isn’t halal. You’ve even learned that some dishes that contain alcohol could be haram by some Muslims, even though this is debatable.
There’s more to this conversation than meets the eye, and a discussion should take place.
Strict vegan food will not contain products like gelatin and rennet. The problem is that some vegan dishes aren’t as strict as others. You may find rennet or gelatin in vegan dishes.
Gelatin may not look like meat, but it is an animal byproduct. It’s made when animal skin or hooves are boiled for some time.
It can come from all sorts of animals, like cows or sheep, but it can also come from pigs. Of course, if it comes from pigs, it’s not halal. The problem is that it could also come from animals that weren’t slaughtered the correct way, making that gelatin haram.
While some vegans are pretty good at avoiding gelatin in some of their dishes, it’s important to point out that gelatin can still slip through the cracks.
Every so often, gelatin is in foods folks wouldn’t think have meat byproducts.
It could be in cereals, or it could be in sweet baked goods, which is so wild. Strict vegans and folks following a halal diet might not always catch this hidden gelatin ingredient.
Rennet is also an animal byproduct that some vegans overlook. While most know it’s not vegan, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few vegans out there who may not care as much or might simply overlook it as mentioned earlier.
This means that if you order a vegan dish, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be halal. If the rennet was extracted from the stomach of a cow that wasn’t killed correctly, then that product is now haram.
Usually, rennet is in alternative cheeses, like lactose-free cheese. Most vegan cheeses don’t contain rennet since they are typically made with nuts, but it’s still something to keep in mind.
Considering Pans and Other Cooking Tools
Okay, so this may not be a concern for every Muslim or vegan out there, but there are a few folks who are so strict that the kitchen tools used to prepare these foods matter.
This is an issue in restaurants that offer non-vegan and non-halal foods.
Some of their cooking tools or serving plates and bowls might be used for non-vegan or non-halal foods.
If these tools, bowls, or plates are cleaned thoroughly, then there are no issues, but that’s not always the case. As much as you would love to believe that restaurants do right by their customers and clean things thoroughly, this is not always done.
As mentioned before, not all vegans and Muslims care about this but some do. Folks who care will have to confirm that all plates, bowls, forks, spoons, and cooking tools were thoroughly cleaned before preparing their halal or vegan dishes.
Is All Halal Food Vegan?
While a Muslim has a good chance of eating halal food if they order vegan dishes, the same cannot be said the other way around.
A vegan can’t order halal food and expect it to be vegan. A large portion of halal foods is animal based.
All sorts of meat products are allowed by Islamic law as long as the slaughter is correctly and humanely performed.
A vegan eats no meat out, even it’s humanely killed.
Dairy is halal and so are eggs.
Strict vegans don’t want any product that comes from an animal, so that eliminates things like dairy and eggs. It also eliminates dishes that contain those ingredients. Certain baked goods could be halal but not vegan.
When it comes to this, the two are far apart from each other. In fact, the vegan population protest halal practices regarding the killing of animals.
Most vegans think animal killing is cruel, though some folks think halal meat is less cruel to animals.
Sure, the death of the animal looks gruesome since a knife runs across the throat of the animal. All that blood is going to look cruel, but some argue that the animal’s death is quick.
Some also argue that halal animals are treated well during their lives. This is necessary because the animal’s life is sacred. Folks who care about the life the animals led will prefer halal meat. Still, a vegan won’t care about any of this.
Can a Muslim be a Vegan?
The Quran allows the eating of meat but doesn’t require it.
Of course, a Muslim can choose to be a vegan as long as that Muslim pays attention to hidden ingredients, like rennet.
The Prophet Muhammad PBUH talked about the importance of treating animals with respect. If a Muslim wants to be a vegan, they are still treating animals with respect.