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The Carletonian

Halal meat now available in dining halls

<rleton’s dining services will now offer halal meat for students four days a week. Halal meat will be served in Burton on Mondays and Wednesdays and in the LDC on Tuesdays and Thursdays. As of now, Sayles will not provide halal options.

According to Associate Chaplain for Muslim and Interfaith Life Ailya Vajid, “halal, or zabiha, is a way to speak about meat. It’s slaughtered in such a way that it is killed as instantaneously as possible so that the animal experiences the least amount of pain. Then the blood is completely drained, and then there’s a prayer that’s said.” Vajid added that Halal almost translates to “permitted,” whereas zabiha, which refers to the way the animal was slaughtered, is a more specific term. “Technically halal is anything but pork,” she added.

After hearing from several Muslim students about the need for halal meat on campus, Vajid set up meetings with Bon Appetit beginning in the fall of 2017. Over the course of the following year, Vajid, Chaplain Carolyn Fure-Slocum, and Associate Chaplain Shoshana Dworsky worked closely with Bon Appetit in order to implement halal. Once a halal distributor was secured on a regular basis, the service was introduced. “I was impressed at how quickly they managed to make it happen. Bon Appetit was super, super supportive and really want[ed] to meet students’ needs in any way that they could,” said Vajid.

“We did have to set up new vendors for the change to halal as our current vendors for protein didn’t provide it,” said Dining Services Manager Katie McKenna. “Once we were able to secure consistent delivery we made the change.”


While adding halal options did require financial negotiations between Bon Appetit and the school, students should not expect any changes to their regular dining options in light of this addition.

“This may have a financial impact on the dining, but would not change any financial arrangements between the College and Bon Appetit,” McKenna said. “The Bon Appetit chefs work to keep the program in the dining hall up to date with our guests’ needs and manage the costs accordingly.”

While Carleton will now offer halal meat, kosher meat is not yet on the menu. “When we started the conversation around halal, we started the conversation around kosher, too, just because it made sense to bring those both up together,” Vajid said. “What [Bon Appetit] told us is that, at this moment, kosher meat isn’t possible given the need for completely separate pots and pans.”

Muslim students comprise about 1-2% of the student body, or 20-40 students, according to Vajid.

Without a halal meat option on campus, many Muslim students were unable to consume meat as part of their regular diet. For some students, this necessitated the transition to vegetarianism. “They’re forced into this lifestyle because the school didn’t provide options for them,” said Muslim Student Association (MSA) President Sarah Chebli ’20. The only way in which halal-observing students could eat meat, she explained, is if they purchased it from a halal butcher in the Twin Cities and prepared it themselves. The MSA offers trips into the Twin Cities for just this purpose.

Now that Carleton will serve halal meat on a regular basis, these students can reintegrate meat into their meals. Beyond ensuring that observing students have a source of protein, adding halal meat to the campus menu speaks to Carleton’s insistence on cultural and religious inclusivity. Vajid understands how important this move is for bolstering Muslim life on campus and for showing Muslim students “that there is support here for you and who you are [in] cultivating your spiritual identity and your practice.”

It’s also an important step in attracting prospective students. “We’re realizing just to get even more [Muslim] students to come, you need to have an outward-facing platform so that they know there is Muslim life on campus,” Vajid said.

Because halal ensures certain moral and ethical standards of treatment for animals, Vajid believes halal meat may be an appealing choice even for non-Muslim students.

“The hope is that others might be interested as well, so that it’s not just Muslim students eating it, but more of the campus community,” Vajid said. “I’m wondering if maybe the ethical standards around the treatment of the animal before it’s slaughtered might be something that’s appealing on a broader level.”

For Chebli, observing halal is more about her commitment to the ethical treatment of animals than it is about adhering to her religion. “It’s just another set of regulations on how to cut the meat.”

Breaking down the Islamophobic stigma attached to halal meat is important to Chebli. “I feel like some people are afraid of the word halal because it’s like ‘Oh no, Sharia law is coming into America and they’re trying to take us over.’ But the only religious aspect is saying that I’m killing this in the name of God,” Chebli said.

She would also like to see halal become a part of mainstream culture so that “more people understand there’s nothing to be afraid of.” This iswhy she encourages all meat-eating members of the Carleton community to give halal a try.

“I want to see more people eating halal,” said Chebli. “It’s no longer only for Muslims. It’s just a normal thing. It’s just meat.”

Editor-in-Chief Ross Matican contributed reporting.

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