What you Need to Know about Halal & Kosher, Quick Facts

Food is an important part of any culture. The way it's prepared, when it's eaten, and who you eat with, are all crucial parts of the experience. These days dietary requirements like Vegan or Vegetarian are extremely well known and even trending however as someone who does follow one of these diets, I feel as though not everyone has the knowledge of what Kosher and Halal food consists of or what it even means. This guide should help you to understand and accommodate those who follow this diet.

Halal food is food that is permissible according to Islamic law. Kosher food is food that is permissible according to Jewish dietary laws. Both religions have very specific guidelines for what foods are allowed to be consumed and which ones are not. For example, both Halal and Kosher foods forbid pork products, but only Halal foods forbid alcoholic beverages. Although both religions use a different set of guidelines for what they will and will not eat, they do share a few similarities in regards to how these guidelines are enforced. In this article, we explore some of the finer details. 

Dates Appetizer Platter | Halal and Kosher

Basics

Kosher:

The term "kosher" refers to any foods which adhere strictly to Judaism's dietary rules. These rules are called kashrut. These rules help define what foods a person can eat or not eat. They also provide a way of producing and handling the food too. The rules also state which food combinations to avoid.

They divide food into 3 categories:

  • Meat & Poultry, or fleishig
  • Dairy, or milching
  • Pareve:  foods that are neither meat nor dairy e.g. eggs, fish and plant-based foods.

One of the main rules of the Kosher diet says that meat & poultry should not be combined with dairy, the utensils used should also be separated to avoid cross-contamination. Pareve foods are considered neutral and thus can be combined with any other category.

Jewish Kosher Food | Hanukkah| Halal and Kosher

Halal: 

Halal food has been misinterpreted and misunderstood in a lot of circles. Halal is an Arabic word meaning ‘permissible’. So when it comes to halal food, you’re talking about foods which are permissible for a Muslim to eat. The word also has a counterpart called ‘Haram’ which means impermissible / forbidden and this includes all the foods which a muslim must avoid. There are certain foods which are outright haram, outright halal or some can have halal variations.

Restricted foods  

Meat Appetizer Platter | Halal and Kosher

Kosher:

Animals that are kosher include mammals which have split hooves and chew their cud, which means it’s food that has been semi-digested, then it’s regurgitated and chewed for a second time.

One of the main rules of the Kosher diet says that meat & poultry should not be combined with dairy, the utensils used should also be separated to avoid cross-contamination. Pareve foods are considered neutral and thus can be combined with any other category.

Shellfish, camel and horses are also prohibited in Kosher diets but are okay in Halal.

Jewish Kosher Food | Hanukkah| Halal and Kosher

Halal:

It’s all about the sober life for Muslims as they do not consume anything that is said to be intoxicating, so things like Alcohol is considered as Haram (not permissible).

A lot of companies run by Muslims, or those based in countries where Muslims are the majority have developed a lot of ingredients which cater for the Halal diet. For example, they replace pork gelatine with halal beef gelatine, use natural food colourings etc. 

Both:

Pork is something that is off limits to both Kosher and Halal diets, so foods that contain gelatine is not allowed to eat. Other forbidden foods include carnivorous animals and predatory birds.  Animals that have been killed in natural causes are also forbidden to eat.

Foods that are permissible in both include animals like sheep, goat, cow, deer, domesticated birds e.g. chicken, and scaly fish with fins e.g. tuna.

Turkish Kebab | Halal meat | Halal food | Halal and Kosher

Both Regulate the slaughtering of animals

For both Kosher and Halal meat, there are usually certifications in which religious bodies give out in order to regulate what is considered Halal or Kosher. 

Both slaughtering methods include draining the blood, in Kosher this is when they soak the meat. 

In kosher, meat must be slaughtered by a Shohet. In halal, meat is slaughtered in a specific way where the name of God is invoked before the slaughter, you also have to make sure that the animal is healthy before the process can be done.

Here's a fun fact, Muslims are allowed to eat Kosher meat as the process is very similar to Islamic tradition.

Halal food stall | Halal and Kosher

Key Takeaways:

Kosher and Halal restrict many different types of foods and have set guidelines when it comes to consuming food. It’s important that we are aware of them and improve our religious literacy in our social circles to help better accommodate people’s religious faiths and values as we are living in an ever increasingly diverse world. 

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