Halal Vs Kosher: A Guide for Meat Lovers

The main difference between halal and kosher is that Halal restrict to taking pork, any type of Alcohol, foods that have blood in it and the meat of specific animals. In halal, the Butcher must read the “Takbeer” (Name of Allah) before Slaughtering the animal. Kosher also restricts port but it also prohibits eating shellfish, and meat of some animals. In Kosher, only “Shohet” (A person who is licensed to butcher the animals) can slaughter the animals.  Read the remaining article for detailed information.

Do you love eating meat? If you are a practicing Muslim or Jew, you understand the dilemma faced when it comes to balancing religious restrictions and your love of culinary pleasures. Is this Halal? Or, Is this Kosher? These are the questions practicing Muslims and Jews all over the world ask before consuming a meal, especially when they are on a foreign trip, away from their own safe suppliers and homes, as all chicken or beef is not kosher or halal.

The terms Halal and Kosher are ones we have heard in relation to food, especially when talking about meat and dairy choices. The labels refer to the religious standards and guidelines on what people from the Muslim and Jewish faith are allowed to eat and what they cannot eat as permitted by Islamic and Jewish religious laws.  However, in the casual conversations of teenagers today, these terms keep popping up in other contexts as well. “Halal or Kosher Behavior” has become a colloquial term to represent acceptable or modest behavior.

In reality, Halal is an Islamic term that means permitted, allowed, or lawful. In a broader sense, it refers to any aspect of your life that is permissible in Islam. However, when we talk about dietary restrictions, Halal is most used in the context of meat consumption, whether or not the meat you eat is halal depends on a number of factors.

Food that is not allowed to a Muslim is called haram meaning unlawful or prohibited. Similarly, the term Kosher originates from the Hebrew word “Kashrut” and is used to identify food that is fit to be consumed. Kosher food is that which conforms to the Kashrut, the Jewish dietary laws. Kosher laws are derived from the Torah and are not just restricted to the type of food, but also govern how the food is to be prepared and what other foods should or should not be eaten in combination.

Similarities and Differences between Halal and Kosher

Islamic and Jewish dietary laws have a number of similarities. Both prohibit the consumption of pork and blood. They also share a focus on the purity of food by maintaining cleanliness and taking preventive steps to avoid cross-contamination by forbidden substances. Generally speaking though, kosher guidelines on food preparation are far more severe than those for halal, for instance in the distinction between milk and dairy.

Halal vs. Kosher: The Slaughter Process

The biggest factor that defines whether meat is halal or kosher is the way in which the animal is slaughtered. There are several similarities and contrasts in the way Muslims and Jews butcher animals.

Similarities between Jewish and Islamic slaughter include:

  • The animal should be isolated for slaughter.
  • The slaughterhouse should maintain a specific standard of cleanliness.
  • The animal meant for food should be alive and healthy at the time of slaughter.
  • The animal is slaughtered with a sharp knife with a quick and precise incision on the neck of the animal to minimize pain.
  • The knife should not be lifted before the cut is complete.
  • The Trachea, Esophagus and both jugular veins must be severed for the meat to be Halal.
  • The cut is angled in a way that allows for as much of the animal’s blood to drain out as possible.
  • The meat cuts are then soaked or hung to remove any remaining blood before it is sold to the market.

Differences between Jewish and Islamic slaughter approaches include:

  • The Jewish butcher must a specially trainer shochet, whereas any able bodied Muslim can butcher an animal.
  • Animals slaughtered as per Kosher rules cannot be stunned prior to slaughter, but Muslims may sometimes stun an animal to bring it down.
  • The Jewish shochet is only required to make one blessing for the whole day’s work, but an Islamic butcher has to recite a short prayer before sacrificing the life of each individual animal.
  • The Jewish laws mandate the use of a special straight bladed knife called the chalaf, whereas any sharp knife may be employed by the Muslims.
  • The sciatic nerve and certain organs are not considered kosher, removing it is not cost-effective, and so the hindquarters of animals are often sold to non-Jewish buyers. Islam has no such restriction.

Permissible Halal Meat

 Only some types of meat are allowed for consumption in Islam. These include:

  • All forms of Cattle
  • Sheep
  • Goats
  • Camels
  • All types of buck
  • Rabbits
  • Fish and Seafood
  • Locusts

Other than seafood and locusts, these animals are considered halal only if and when they are slaughtered in accordance with the guidelines discussed above.

Permissible Kosher Meat

Kosher law prohibits the consumption of some animals entirely, and even for those that are allowed, there are rules about which part of the animal can be eaten, in addition to the specific slaughtering rules. The following animals are permitted:

  • Animals whose hooves are split in two and chew cud, like cows, sheep, goats and deer.
  • Kosher birds include chicken, goose, turkey, duck and pigeons.
  • Fish that have fins and scales are kosher, e.g. tuna, herring, flounder, salmon, carp, and pike.

Forbidden Meat as per Islamic law

Islam prohibits certain animals and meat products. Meat considered to be haram or unlawful includes

  • Meat not slaughtered appropriately as per Islamic Law
  • Meat where the blood has not been fully drained.
  • Jhatka Meat, where the animal is killed with a cleaver or guillotine.
  • Pig and pork by-products.
  • Donkeys and Mules
  • Animals that are dead or sick before slaughter
  • Meat eating or Carnivorous animals
  • Birds of Prey
  • Amphibians
  • All Insects except for Locust.
  • Animal Blood and Reproductive organs

Forbidden Meat as per Jewish law

The following animals and meat products are not considered kosher according to Jewish Dietary law:

  • Meat not slaughtered appropriately as per Jewish guidelines.
  • Meat where the blood has not been fully drained.
  • Animals like rabbits, pigs, dogs, squirrels, cats, bears, horses and camels are not kosher.
  • Predatory and Scavenger birds, Shellfish, catfish, sturgeon, swordfish, lobster, shellfish, crabs and all water mammals
  • Rodents, Reptiles and amphibians.
  • Milk, eggs, fat, organs obtained from prohibited animals.

Is Halal and Kosher food interchangeable?

With all the similarities between them, does this mean that Muslim and Jewish consumers can buy either interchangeably? While Muslims are allowed to consume kosher products, the same is not true for those people of the Jewish faith.

Muslims are allowed to buy and consume non-alcoholic kosher meat and food products. However, the rules kosher meat has to abide to mean that halal meat is not kosher. Similarly, certain animals that are halal, or conditionally halal (tabai), like horses and shellfish are not kosher. Halal food also does not have a condition on meat and dairy which makes cross-contamination between the two products a possibility in halal kitchens, this making halal food non-kosher. Kosher restaurants are considered halal as the strict Jewish dietary laws mean that kosher restaurants contain few or no haram ingredients.

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