What is Halal? Learn About Muslim Diet

What exactly does "halal" mean?

Many people know that Muslims do not eat pork or drink alcohol. However, in some cases, avoiding dishes with pork meat or not offering alcohol isn't enough.
Learn some details about what is halal, so that you won't be at total loss when meeting muslims or hosting muslim guests.

What is Halal?

"Halal" means "permissible" in Islam. Halal is not just about food, but also about everything about a muslim's life. What has been allowed by God in the rules He created, is halal. What is impermissible is called "haram."

Standards in Small Details Depend on Each Person

The basic idea and rules are the same everywhere, because they were determined by God. However, there may be difference of opinions and policy in the fine details depending on the religious sect, culture and individual.
Some may avoid using dishes and cutlery touched even once by the haram. Others may decide to eat meat without halal certification when they are in a non-muslim country.
The best thing to do here is to ask the person you're serving. Honest communication and consent are a key to any happy relationship.

What is Halal Food?

The food that muslims are allowed to eat is called halal food. The opposite is haram food and examples include pork and alcohol.
You may think these are strict rules, but in fact, there are only a few haram food. Everything is halal except the haram.

Vegetables, Fruits, Grains, Egg, and Dairy are all Halal

Vegetables, fruits and grains are halal in themselves. As for animal-derived foods, eggs and milk are halal. This means most vegetarian dishes are halal. Rice, bread, vegetable dishes and cakes can be all halal, although we still need to make sure no haram is contained.

halal cake

Meat is Halal with Some Conditions

Except for pork and some other animals, popular meats like beef, chicken and lamb are halal. However, the animal needs to be slaughtered in a certain way determined by Islamic law.
You can't tell if meat is halal just by looking. That's why halal meat is usually accompanied by a halal symbol on the package.

In Japan, halal meat is not as easy to find, but some imported food shops and wholesale stores sell some.
One thing to be aware of is the fact that some processed foods contain no meat itself, but contains animal broth and other products derived from meat. Look out for these ingredients when buying packaged foods.

Fish are Generally Halal, Except in Some Cases

Most muslims are of the opinion that creatures from the water is halal. However, according to some who follow the Shia sect, fish without scales are not permissible.

halal sushi bowl

Watch Out for Alcohol, Not Just in Drinks

Alcohol is used not only as drinks but also in dishes and desserts. Some may not care about small quantities, but be careful. Some seasonings such as soy sauce and miso may contain alcohol added as a preservative.

Choose Halal-Certified Goods When Possible

Some packaged foods are halal certified, meaning they are checked by a third party to be halal.
They are still rare in Japan, but they are available in many imported foods stores. You can make your muslim guests feel safer by using these products.
Learn more about halal certification on">What is Halal Certification? How to Get One?" page.

Enjoy Eating with Everybody!

We hope you now understand that a little care can enable everyone to enjoy the same meal on the same table, regardless of religion.
At Samurai Kitchen, we have a selection of bento and party plates that are both halal and vegetarian. Talk to us about your multicultural parties, conferences and trade shows in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama or Chiba!
If you are planning on hosting muslims guests, also read Tips for Hosting Muslim Guests!