Thursday, July 08, 2010

Moving to Eat Zabihah

Since I became a Muslim, I followed a fairly lenient approach towards eating meat. While zabihah (properly slaughtered according to Islam) meat was available, I never purchased any at the meat market, and didn't make a particular effort to abstain from non-zabihah options, as long as I knew there was no pork or alcohol contained or served with it. But since my husband has always eaten zabihah meat exclusively, even since moving to the USA from Pakistan, we agreed before marriage that we would only have zabihah meat in the house.

And so my transition to eating zabihah has been relatively simple. I haven't decided to wholly exclude non-zabihah meat from my diet, but since I almost always eat at home, and when we go out there are almost always zabihah options, the occasion when I don't eat zabihah is pretty rare.

Since I have been on a high protein diet of sorts for several months now, you might think that choosing zabihah might have been harder--since I actually eat quite a lot of meat. But alhamdulillah, it has been incredibly simple.

Partly this is because my husband and I have a tacit grocery arrangement--usually I will buy all the other groceries and he will buy the meat for me. I've not yet gone to the halal meat shop (I should soon, to feel comfortable going there) but my husband has been able to find for me any cut of meat I wanted, ground beef and chicken, plenty of boneless skinless chicken breasts, and even halal turkey bacon. And as long as my husband takes care of the meat, making sure I've got whatever I need, I haven't felt the need to make any major dietary changes by switching to zabihah meat.

Also, I love seafood in general so it's not a problem for me to enjoy seafood entrées at restaurants if zabihah is not available--although my husband and I usually, if we do eat at a restaurant, opt for halal shops run by Muslims.

One of the few exceptions is when we eat on the road, and "fast food" is the only option. Because of the diet, it's important for me to have lean proteins, but if we pass a McDonald's or Burger King, the only fish on the menu is a fried filet. And while my husband will take that option, I find it healthier to order grilled chicken. Though I do usually pack snacks and meals for when we are on the road to avoid this occurrence most of the time.

Since the vast majority of my meals (I'd say all but one or two in a month) are zabihah, I feel like it would be relatively simple to decide to entirely restrict my diet, but I haven't done so. It has felt like a healthy and easy transition at this point, rather than an unforgiving change I might give up. Certainly, everything I cook and prepare at home is zabihah, and I know now that sticking to zabihah can be relatively easy (at least, as long as you live in a place with plenty of Muslims who demand zabihah and halal options.)

So rather than ever suggesting that someone make an immediate change in this regard, I'd say take it easy, and get there gradually. It can be easy.


Hajar said...

Alhamdulillah. That is a very nice transition. It's good to take things one at a time. Once you're comfortable, only then move to the next phase. Hope you'll eventually frequent the meat store! :)

mezba said...

It has always bothered me that those who eat halal are usually eating unhealthy when they eat at outside restaurants. All halal restaurants seem to be oil dripping desi places or Arab places or fries and burgers or fried fish. I once wrote about it.

mezba said...

I also wondered in the olden days when the Sahaba used to visit a town with mostly non muslims (idolators) what would they eat? I can't imagine sea food to be common in Arabia.

Amy said...

You're right mezba, a lot of halal food is not any healthier, like a "halal burger and fries." But it's possible to eat healthy at these places if you try, and depending on what "healthy" means to you.

Kabobs can be pretty healthy, and chicken is best (leanest, lowest fat content.) Then pair with vegetables (fresh if possible, like salads) don't have too much rice or bread and stay away from the sweets.

But as a people we should pay more attention to what kinds of food are "healthy." Then we might not see so many of our aunties and uncles with diabetes.

I just want to point out that for me eating healthy is a priority (most of the time) and eating zabihah just happens to be pretty convenient for me. Rare is the occasion that I need to opt for non-zabihah to be healthy, but it does happen. Chicken breast sandwich (no mayo) at BK instead of a fish filet, for instance.

Most of the time both are compatible.

Anonymous said...


May Allah bless you for all your efforts. Here is an article you might find interesting.

Umm Aaminah said...

A'salaamu alaikum sister. Just came across your blog and wanted to say I am really enjoying it. We are about the same "age" Islamically and I was very similar to you in my approach to becoming a zabiha-only eater. Alhamdulillah my husband is a scholar and he has been able to guide me and encourage me. Like your husband, he has only eaten correctly slaughtered meat and he has been a great influence for me.

May Allah guide us all, ameen.