Thursday, 9 February 2012


“Grant that I may become beautiful in my soul within, and that all my external possessions may be in harmony with my inner self. May I consider the wise to be rich, and may I have such riches as only a person of self-restraint can bear or endure.” - Plato

I had an overseas guest at work yesterday so it was quite a mad rush to get everything done, as well as have numerous meetings with him and other staff members. It was a very long day but also a tiring one, as I had to not only do the requisite work-related tasks that the visit required, but had to entertain him as well. He was Muslim, so lunch had to be Halal. We fortunately have a Halal restaurant close by so that was not an issue, but it turned out that when he travels he also becomes a vegan. In his home country he consumes chicken, fish, dairy products and eggs, but in Australia he is vegan.

I was pleasantly surprised that after some negotiation with the waiter, the restaurant chef was able to provide him with a suitable dish that met his approval. It was a vegetable stir-fry with eggplant, beans, soy curd, zucchini, fried onion flakes, chopped nuts and chili. He pronounced it delicious and quite suitable for his sensibilities, and definitely not Haram!

Food that is not halal is termed Haram (forbidden). Food can be forbidden in Islam if it includes:  Blood, alcohol, meat or any products from a forbidden animal, including pigs and any carnivorous animals or birds of prey, meat or any products of an animal which has not been slaughtered in the correct manner in the name of Allah Under Islamic law (sharia). It is permissible (halal) to consume items that would otherwise be termed haram so long as it is a matter of survival and not just an act of disobedience.

Thinking about it afterwards, I concluded that it must be very difficult to have such a special dietary requirement when travelling. One has to constantly be very careful of what one eats and search for suitable eating places where one would be assured of one’s requirements being met. In a big city like Melbourne this would be quite easy, however, in smaller towns it may be more difficult. One would have to resort to eating fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and grains, quite often. Especially so in countries where special dietary requirements are not all that common. However, as my guest demonstrated, discipline and self-restraint are what determine one’s adherence to one’s principles. No doubt, one would be prepared in many cases to go hungry rather than compromise oneself.

halal |həˈläl, həˈlal| adjective
Denoting or relating to meat prepared as prescribed by Muslim law: Halal butchers.
• Religiously acceptable according to Muslim law: Halal banking.
halal meat.
ORIGIN mid 19th cent.: from Arabic ḥalāl ‘according to religious law.’

haram |ˈhe(ə)rəm, ˈharəm| adjective
forbidden or proscribed by Islamic law.
ORIGIN from Arabic ḥarām ‘forbidden.’

1 comment:

  1. lucky your guest was in Melbourne

    out here, they would have gone very hungry indeed, I'm vegetarian and rarely eat out as lettuce, tomato and cucumber does not a meal make

    that dish looks very interesting