The simple answer to the question “Why Muslims eat non-vegetarian food?” is because Muslims believe that “God has allowed eating non-vegetarian food.” You may wonder, why would a merciful God allow killing of innocent animals? Let’s discuss.
Note: “Additional Info” section at the end of the article contains information on different topics related to this subject.
Eating non-vegetarian food is not mandatory in Islam
Yes, God has allowed eating of non-vegetarian food but He has not made it mandatory to eat it. A person can be a pure vegetarian and also a very good Muslim at the same time. There is absolutely no conflict.
Is there consensus on animal cruelty?
Many think that the vegetarians are a homogenous group and they have the same understanding on animal cruelty. This is not true. When we look at the “vegetarian” community, we find a wide spectrum of opinions on animal cruelty. Let’s look at a few.
Along with the vegetarian food, they also eat dairy products (milk, cheese, butter, curd, ice cream) and eggs.
These vegetarians eat dairy products but consider eggs to be a non-vegetarian diet.
These vegetarians eat eggs but consider consuming dairy products as supporting animal cruelty.
These people say no to dairy products and eggs, but eat fish.
They completely avoid animal based products and eat only a plant based diet. The Vegans also do not use products like bags, shoes, clothes made of animal leather. They give more importance to life of the animals as they believe animals are sentient beings.
They consider all lives to be sacred irrespective of whether it is animal life, insect life or plant life. Fruits are their only diet as they argue that plant based diets have also killed many lives. Example: Death of 50 billion bees in the US due to the almond milk industry.
What does the list tell us?
The understanding of what constitutes animal cruelty is not the same among the “vegetarians”. What is ethical and morally correct for one vegetarian type is unethical and animal cruelty for the others. There is no common benchmark to determine what is ethical and morally correct. So the concept of ethics and morality varies from person to person and becomes very subjective. How do we decide who is correct and who is wrong?
Need for an objective yardstick
Only when we have an objective yardstick, we can conclude what is objectively correct and what is objectively wrong. But, is it reasonable to look for an objective yardstick? Yes. Let’s see why.
Our human body
Let’s step back and think about our human body. Our human body is conducive for consuming both meat and plants. Our teeth structure and the digestive system clearly show that we are omnivorous. A vegan PhD student of molecular biology debunks the claim that we are herbivorous.
The cell walls of the plants are made up of compounds called cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignins. We need an enzyme called “cellulase” to break down these compounds but this is absent in our body and therefore, we cannot digest these compounds. The bacteria in the gut that produces this enzyme is also absent in humans. However, enzymes like protease and lipase that are required for breaking the meat and absorbing it are present in our body.
What does it tell you?
We are omnivorous by nature. Can there be a conflict between our human nature and ethics of eating meat? The answer is no. You may wonder why. Read on.
Who can give the objective yardstick?
To understand who can give the objective yardstick, let’s consider these premises.
- The maker of a product knows best about the product.
- Since the maker knows best about the product, he is the best person to decide the dos and don’ts for the product.
Our experiences of referring to a product’s user manual, helps us to conclude that the premises given above are very logical.
If the Universe and all that exists in it (including us), were created by an All-Knowing and All-Wise Creator, then He must have the best knowledge about us. So the Creator, whom we refer to as God Almighty, is in the best position to tell us what is good and bad for us.
Muslims believe in God Almighty and His guidance
Muslims believe that:
- Universe and all that exists in it (including us) were created by God Almighty.
- God Almighty provided comprehensive guidance to us on what is correct and what is wrong.
- The All-Knowing God Almighty has allowed eating non-vegetarian foods.
God says in the Quran:
Like we saw above, God is in the best position to decide what is best for us and that includes the diet we should eat. Muslims believe that the Quran is the word of God and since God in the Quran, has explicitly allowed eating of non-vegetarians food, Muslims eat meat. It must be now clear to you why Muslims eat non-vegetarian food.
- Eating non-vegetarian food is not mandatory in Islam. A vegetarian can be a very good Muslim.
- There is no consensus on what constitutes animal cruelty among the “vegetarian community”.
- God Almighty is in the best position to decide what is correct and what is wrong.
- Muslims believe that God Almighty has allowed eating non-vegetarian food.
- Therefore, Muslims eat non-vegetarian food.
- If you still want to follow any “vegetarian” diet, you are free to do so.
Animals and Birds have rights in Islam
1400 years ago, when human beings were treated like animals, Islam declared that animals and birds also have rights that are to be respected. There are several injunctions given by Prophet Muhammad regarding good treatment of animals and birds. We will present a couple of them here.
Prophet Muhammad said:
Islam disallows killing animals / birds for fun or sport
In the world we live today, hunting for fun and sport is a Billion dollar industry. 14 centuries ago, Islam prohibited killing animals and birds for entertainment.
Prophet Muhammad said:
Halal slaughter causes the least amount of suffering and pain to the animal. The blood supply to the nerve in the brain is cut off when the jugular vein, windpipe and the carotid artery are severed. Therefore, the animal does not feel pain. The animal may appear to struggle and kick but that’s due to the contraction and relaxation of muscles deficient in blood and it is not due to pain.
A report published by the French Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fishing proves this. A study done by Dr. Wilhelm Schulze, who was the Director of Veterinary Medicine in Hannover, Germany, found out that the thermal pain stimuli did not cause an increase in activity during the halal slaughter.
Check out the difference between Halal meat and Jhatka meat.
Etiquettes of Halal Slaughter
Prophet Muhammad said:
Some of the important etiquettes of slaughter are:
- The name of God should be pronounced before the slaughter. This reminds us we do the slaughter only because God has allowed it.
- The knife must be extremely sharp. This is to avoid unnecessary pain during the slaughter.
- The knife should be concealed from the view of the animal.
- One animal should not be slaughtered in front of another animal.
- Care should be taken that the animal is not stressed and it should be made comfortable.
- Slaughter must be completed as swiftly as possible.
Islam teaches moderation in eating
Be it meat or vegetarian food, Islam teaches moderation in eating.
Prophet Muhammad said:
Yes, Muslims are allowed to eat meat, but they are also advised not to binge on it.
Islam abhors the cruel practices of “capitalist” meat & dairy industry
The “capitalist” meat & dairy industry prioritizes money over the well being of the animals. This is why we see them keeping the animals in extremely crowded & suffocated conditions, giving them artificial growth hormones, and killing them in the most cruel manner. Islam abhors such acts and any Muslim who lives by the ideals of Islam will never endorse these barbaric acts of animal cruelty.
Prophet Muhammad said:
The saying of the Prophet makes it clear that hell is the destination for all those who unabashedly indulge in animal cruelty.
Plants also feel pain
Many think plants, unlike animals, cannot feel pain as they have no nervous system. The vegans famously exclude plants from the list of sentient beings. Latest studies show that plants also feel pain. This article by National Geographic says:
Simon Gilroy who runs the botany lab that at the University of Wisconsin-Madison says:
Did you know about a new field called “Plant Neurobiology”?
Plant neurobiology is a new field that aims to understand how plants process the information they obtain from their environment to develop, prosper and reproduce optimally.
This field is very modern and fast developing. One can expect new and fascinating discoveries about the plant kingdom in the near future. Anyone who dismisses the idea of “pain factor” in plants, is doing so only because it goes against their “ideology”. They know, conceding that plants feel pain will crumble their whole ideology.
Are vegetarian diets alone sufficient for humans?
The straight forward answer is no. This article states that there are 7 nutrients that are commonly unavailable in vegetarian and vegan diets. For example: Vitamin B12 comes from animal food sources like dairy products, eggs, fish and meat. A study found out that vegetarians develop B12 deficiency regardless of demographic characteristics, place of residency, age, or type of vegetarian diet. Vegetarians should thus take preventive measures to ensure adequate intake of this vitamin, including regular consumption of supplements containing B12.
The Indian Dietetic Association (IDA) claimed that 84% of the vegetarians in the country are protein deficient.
Our brain needs animal fat
Our brain requires a fat called DHA which comes only from animal food.
Dr. Georgia Ede, MD in Medicine from University of Vermont College Of Medicine, is a Nutritional Psychiatrist. She says:
She mentions that the plant foods do not have DHA.
Remember, not only DHA supplements that come from algae are more expensive but also contain lower concentrations of DHA than fish or krill oil supplements.
Vegetarian diets can backfire
Dr. Aseem Malhotra is a cardiologist in the UK. In an article titled “My mother’s vegetarian diet contributed to her early death. We should all learn from it”, he says:
He also goes on to say that:
He paraphrases an interesting information he learnt from an eminent dietitian.
Stories of ex-vegans
People who were “champions of veganism” have made an U turn and started eating meat because of health issues. Virpi Mikkonen a former blogger who promoted veganism claims she had to turn to meat as she experienced early menopause at just 38. Yovana Mendoza Ayres with millions of subscribers claims she started eating meat due to health problems. Tim Shieff, nicknamed “Vegan Prince”, speaks about why he quit veganism.
We can safely conclude that vegetarian or vegan diets are not for everybody. This is the case with non-vegetarian diets too. So people should eat what is best for them.
Vegetarians and non-violence
Some vegetarians claim that due to a plant based diet, vegetarians are very peaceful and non-violent. On the other hand, the meat eaters are aggressive and violent. On the face of it, this argument might sound appealing but falls apart when we look at statistics. Overwhelming majority of the winners of Nobel Prize for Peace were non-vegetarians.
Did you know that Hitler who massacred millions of innocent humans was a vegetarian? Morality is not linked to diet rather it is linked to a person’s commitment to do what is correct and avoid what is wrong.
Want to go Vegan / Vegetarian? Watch This First!
This video is by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, who holds a degree in Medicine and Postgraduate degrees in both Neurology and Human Nutrition.
“Vegetarianism” is your choice
We believe food choices are very personal. Individuals have their own diet preferences and these individual preferences must be respected. It is not correct to judge those who do not share our diet preferences.
Let’s LIVE and LET LIVE!