Veganism: Are Muslims Lagging Behind in Embracing Meat Alternatives?

Image: The traditional Moroccan soup, Harira, is originally vegan. It's made with legumes like lentils and chickpeas. (Source: themediterraneandish.com)

I’ve gone through my own journey of discovering the truth about diet.

With all the fuss about animal products, there couldn’t be a time when Surat Al-An’am (The Cattle) felt more relatable to me.

Veganism is a belief system with its own Halal and Haram prescribed in a polished “scientific” manner. Islam doesn’t forbid meat consumption, although admittedly, many Muslims embracing the modern lifestyle may have gone overboard with their love of meat.

RELATED: Is Veganism Sunnah?

Veganism can be followed for valid health concerns. However, with regards to Islamic belief, it is crucial to submit to Allah’s guidelines:

Why should you not eat of what is slaughtered in Allah’s Name when He has already explained to you what He has forbidden to you—except when compelled by necessity? Many ˹deviants˺ certainly mislead others by their whims out of ignorance. Surely your Lord knows the transgressors best. (Quran, 6:119)

As-Sa’di has a timeless interpretation of this Ayah:

Here Allah instructs His believing slaves, as is expected of them as believers, that if they are truly believers, then they should eat of that over which the name of Allah has been pronounced, of livestock and other permissible animals, and they should believe that it is permissible; they should not do what the ignorant do of prohibiting many things that are permissible, following innovations based on their own ideas and the misguidance of their devils.

~Tafseer As-Sa’di

RELATED: Why Would We Trust Science Over Islam?

We still have the same deviants but they’re just called “experts” and “scientists.”

In his article, Saitō Hayato points out how Japan is catching up with Europe and North America in their “progress” of embracing meat alternatives.

Europe and North America have long had more vegetarian and vegan consumers than Japan, and so plant-based meat alternatives, usually made from soybeans, are much more common there.

Environmental Claims

The author then states the basic motivation of the movement:

Experts now say that global livestock farming around the world produces 15% of CO₂ emissions worldwide, and the livestock industry is a major contributor to environmental destruction through deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, and excessive water consumption.

Research is commonly refuted by other research. This report defies the claims of those “experts.”

…global assessments are overwhelmingly based on data from industrial systems. A frequently quoted paper looking at 38,700 farms and 1,600 processors only focused on “commercially viable” units, mostly from Europe and North America.

Research in Kenya, for example, shows how assumptions about emissions from African animals are inaccurate. Such livestock are smaller, have higher quality diets due to selective grazing and have physiologies adapted to their settings.

The researchers mention other overlooked factors like the environmental benefits of livestock, the shorter lifetime of methane as compared to carbon dioxide, and the income livestock provides to many communities. Once again, people pick facts that justify their beliefs.

RELATED: Debunking the Modernist Myth: “Everyone Is Biased”

Balancing Health Concerns

You know an “expert” is grounded in knowledge when he mentions that not all meat is alike. Dr. Berg has noted “organic” and “grass-fed” as quality factors. However, these factors are lacking in comparison to Dr. Faid’s comprehensive list. The animal type, its age, whether it’s free-range or not, the environment it was raised in, and the season of the year are all detrimental factors to the quality of meat. Most significant, for us Muslims is Halal slaughter.

While Dr. Faid stresses the fact that he does not make meat haram, he strongly advocates reduced meat consumption for health concerns. His Moroccan-Mediterranean dietary recommendations are based on indigenous heritage as well as laboratory research. Fish consumption is not capped, but poultry and beef are ruled out for the ill. For their complex hormonal system, females should consume less. The same applies to less active men.

Are These Real Alternatives?

From Japan, Hayato reports:

The biggest issue is recreating flavor more like that of meat. We’re combining mechatronics and biotechnology to create a 100-percent plant-based version of meat that tastes even better than the original,” he says.

Besides imitating taste and texture, the main concern is to make the product more affordable. The impact on heath is neglected. Soybean is widely genetically modified, and processed foods come with an extended list of additives that you want to avoid for their own sake. The real alternative is to promote traditional plant-based diets to the masses. However, the dietary independence of consumers is not profitable, so food innovations will always be spotlighted.

RELATED: Are Vegans Really More Ethical Than the Rest of Us?

I personally follow Dr. Faid’s version of the Mediterranean diet, and I do recommend it. I also go vegan during fasting seasons. However, I would deliberately break my rules when invited and on Eid days. Overall, if you reduce food, avoid toxins (additives, medications), and keep a weekly (or at least monthly) fasting routine, you’re on the safe side. Most importantly, don’t forbid the Halal based on fake beliefs.

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John Doe

Daniel,

The oceans are very polluted with environmental pollutants, oil spills, and nowadays and are full of microplastics. I would advise you stay away from fish.

Zaid Diaz

I would advise you to stay in your imaginary bubble and not come out of that bubble to give ‘advice’. Crackheads like you are not welcome here.

Mahad Shaikh

Mentally handicapped response, the mercury level of larger fish has reached such a lvl that countries are now issuing guidelines telling people to limit wild fish consumption because high consumption will lead to cellular damage and an even higher consumption will lead to mercury poisoning and death. Smaller fish are still retaining less mercury and are safer but just because your too stupid to actually test for levels of poison doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

Ps: small fish like sardines etc are farmed fish are still okay. You can have wild fish but try to avoid more than 3-4 serving per week because unless you’re bengali, your body won’t be able to filter out mercury fast enough if you keep this up (more than 4 servings per week), your body will eventually lose the fight and it’ll buildup to fatal levels leading to eventual death or disability

Baz

It’s not worth consuming much meat Nowadays because veven much of today’s so-called halal meat is not really halal, because there are a lot of fraudulent dishonest men who just stick halal labels on meat which they are not confident was slaughtered halal or by Muslims. So that way they make more money from gullible Muslim customers. The best way to consume meat nowadays (especially for those living in nonMuslims countries like America) is to grow your own chickens in your backyard or own your own farm or ranch so that you can slaughter the livestock for meat with your own hands so that you know that they are not haram if you slaughter them yourself the Islamic way. This policy could also fit within the advice of Resoolullah PBUH to relocate to isolated rural areas during the end times with one’s sheep or livestock to escape the big fitna of the outside world.

Simple

As to the environmental claims, scientifically, it’s more basic, and we’d not have to go far into benefits and harm: grass is of little value to humans and the environment, except to livestock. In other words, Allah created grass land for livestock.