Vegan lifestyles are becoming more popular for many reasons.
Whether it’s for health benefits, the cost of raising agriculture on the environment, due to upbringing, or simply because consuming meat seems morally repulsive, veganism is going mainstream, and thankfully there are plenty of animal product alternatives available to meet the demand.
One group of people who are not often associated with vegetarianism, let alone veganism, are Muslims, for whom meat-eating may be a daily staple.
Historically, though, this was not the case. The same meat fervour was not shared by Muslims of prophet Muhammed’s time who ate so little meat, they were practically vegetarians.
Muhammed himself was not an advocate of daily meat consumption, not least because it could become addictive.
But Muslims also argue that God has said to not make impermissible (haram) what He has made permissible (halal).
In other words, if God has said it’s not wrong, then you don’t have to make it wrong for you.
It gets complicated though, when you consider that God’s word, which is detailed in the Qur’an, says animals are sentient beings just as human beings are.
The Qur’an also places emphasis on the environment and how we should care for it. If raising animals for human consumption is a major cause of global warming, Muslims are left to question their dietary habits.
A few members of the growing network of Muslim vegans spoke to Metro.co.uk about how they came to embrace a meat-free diet.
Bashie, 24, a British-born Syrian from a Muslim family, explains how he became vegan four years ago.
‘Since I was very young, I felt something was off about the fact that we consumed the dead flesh of an animal,’ Bashie tells us. ‘I continued to eat meat into my adulthood because I was indoctrinated with the myth that human beings need a lot of protein to be healthy.
‘Because I had some problems with depression as a young adult, and was starting to become a lot more health conscious to live a happier life, (veganism) just clicked with me on a very fundamental level.’
Sana, an Algerian muslim from France, says: ‘I had no problem with eating meat, it was something normal until I found out the truth about slaughterhouses and all the atrocities done to animals in the meat industry.
‘I thought it was enough to be vegetarian, then I discovered what was behind dairy products and overnight I became vegan. The Qu’ran says we can eat meat, but it also says to be nice to animals, to eat halal meat’.
But halal meat, whereby animals are drained of their blood and a prayer is recited, isn’t always halal.
In today’s slaughterhouses, a pre-recorded prayer often blares nonstop as the animals are lined up and killed, a cop-out from the way the tradition of halal was intended.
Dena, a vegan who’s studied Islam in Syria says she doesn’t agree with the practices of such ‘halal’ abattoirs.
‘I saw that the goats were not being slaughtered in a halal manner at all. It was horrific, and made me doubt the halal accreditation.’
She says that Islam teaches kindness, which extends to living creatures too.
Her veganism also has an anthropocentric nature as the environmental aspect of raising agriculture has shaped her views.
Being of Maldivian heritage, she was ten during the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, she fears the reality of global warming if it continues to result in rising sea levels.
Farjana, a British Bangladeshi also cites ethical reasons: ‘I became a vegan because I do not want to support companies who abuse animals.
‘I also came across the health benefits of veganism and that’s when my motivation started. My family has a history of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, which I know for a fact is do with the food. I don’t want to have these problems later in life.’
Although in its early stages, ethical eating is certainly gaining momentum judging, at least, by the number of vegan Muslims who got in touch, from California, parts of Europe, Australia and beyond.
Whatever the reason, it’s encouraging to see so many have cultivated research into a contested, morally important concept.