What Is Halal?
On the Eastern side of the hemisphere, most commonly in Muslim countries, halal food is the norm. While halal is certainly served and sold within countries such as the United States, Canada or even stretching out to Europe, the term itself isn’t always known to their natives.
For those who aren’t familiar with the term, here is the definition of halal:
Halal is an Arabic word meaning lawful or permitted but it is generally used in reference to food that fulfills Muslim dietary rules. It is similar to the Hebrew word kosher, which references food that is permissible to eat according to Jewish dietary standards.
Halal food doesn’t consist of or contain anything which is considered to be unlawful according to Islamic Law; it hasn’t been prepared, process, transported or stored using any appliance or facility that wasn’t free from anything unlawful according to Islamic Law; and it hasn’t been in direct contact with any food that is considered to be forbidden (haram).
In case you’d like some easy to understand examples, here are foods that are haram:
- Swine/Pork and its by-products
- Animals improperly slaughtered or dead before slaughtering
- Alcoholic drinks and intoxicants
- Carnivorous animals, birds of prey and certain other animals
- Land animals without external ears
- Blood and blood by-products
Foods containing ingredients such as gelatin, enzymes, emulsifiers, and flavors are questionable (mashbooh), because the origin of these ingredients is not known.
The Halal Misconception
Considering the fact that consuming halal foods are an essential way of life for many Muslims, this can add one more thing to the list of stresses international students fret about. Most students can adapt quite easily to American college life and culture shock when leaving their home country behind temporarily. Students may change their style of clothes, find new friends and hangouts and try brand new foods, for example.
These changes may sound great and exciting to many international college students but the thought of not being able to follow religious or ethical beliefs can make students wary and more commonly, parents who might be hesitant of sending their college-aged children off to American universities.
The reason for this train of thought is certainly valid but very easily follows the assumption that halal food isn’t served anywhere in the U.S. and, well, you know what assuming does to people!
There are 7 million Muslims that account for America’s population living in the most diverse country in the world which means you can bet your precious college penny there will be quite the selection of halal food Misconception proven FALSE!
The only problem college students might end up running across is the higher cost of halal food if you go to a non-ethnic restaurants that don’t typically serve halal.
Remember that in the Eastern part of the world, this is a way of life. In other countries where it’s not, it takes a little more work because this type of food is imported or the establishment must find a trained Muslim workforce that specializes in preparing halal foods – hence the higher price.
In America, even if it does cost a few extra bucks, halal food is ALWAYS available and well worth the price!
Finding Halal In The United States
Halal food has been around longer than most people think. In 1986, Stockton’s Islamic Meat & Poultry first opened their doors, to be exact. Since that time, there are now over 7,000 halal establishments countrywide in the U.S., meaning there is surely a place for you to dine in halal deliciousness!
If you’re heading off to start your higher education in America and are looking for a store or restaurant with halal,, here are just a few local places with halal food that’s been approved by the American Halal Association (AHA) or the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA):
- Petra Grill – Potomac Mills (Virginia)
- Rajaji Curry Grill
- McDonald’s – Michigan
- Chicken Cottage
- Brown’s Chicken
- Crown Fried Chicken
- Kroger Supermarket
- Big Boy Restaurant
- Oakwood Hospital
- Kentucky Fried Chicken
- Chicking Fried Chicken
- Tex-Med Beef Co. – Distributor
- H.E.B. Grocery
- Milano Pizza
- Campbell’s halal-certified products – found in supermarkets
Aside from American restaurants and stores, there are many of desi restaurants in all major cities serving certified halal food meaning that you won’t have to go very far to find one!
Until you get familiar with your surroundings and landmarks, all you have to do is get a list from Google and you’ll be good to go!
If anything was left out that you feel is important to add, feel free to let us know!