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What Are the Differences between Kosher and Halal Foods?

By Eugene P.
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are specific dietary guidelines that are adhered to by followers of both the Jewish and Muslim faiths. Foods that meet these guidelines are known as kosher and halal, respectively. Many differences exist between the rules for the two types of food, though there also are some similarities. Both kosher and halal laws state that blood and pigs cannot be consumed. Kosher rules, however, are far more restrictive about the types of animals and methods of preparation that are used.

One important thing to understand about the differences between kosher and halal foods is that there are differences in opinion about what each diet actually entails. These variations come from scholarly interpretations of the original religious texts that define the laws. Some differences relax the strict laws, adjusting them for modern production realities that make the origin and composition of some foods nearly impossible to trace. There also are communities where the rules are far stricter than those of the traditional diet. Most often, the differences arise in certain geographical regions or in groups that follow a specific leader within the faith.

Muslims who follow a halal diet are able to eat a wider selection of meats than Jews who follow a kosher diet. In a halal diet, nearly all meats except pork and pork byproducts are permitted, although it should be noted that some variations exist that restrict the eating of carnivorous animals. A kosher diet forbids several animals, including pigs, eagles, owls, catfish and rabbits. One major difference between kosher and halal rules is that all shellfish are considered non-kosher and cannot be eaten, while all animals that live in the water are specifically permitted under halal guidelines.

Another difference between kosher and halal foods comes from how kosher foods must be prepared. Meat and dairy are not allowed to mix, be handled with the same tools or eaten with the same utensils. Some types of kosher food also must be prepared by a practicing Jew to be considered kosher. Halal foods have similar regulations, but they are primarily centered on the slaughtering and butchering of animals.

Both kosher and halal rules state that animals need to be slaughtered in a specific way to be permissible. The rules are nearly identical, and both methods end with the meat being consecrated with the name of God. As similar as the methods of slaughter are, however, kosher and halal meats are not readily interchangeable, because the name of God used over the meat is not the same. In Islam, however, kosher meat can be permissible to eat if a Muslim is traveling or eating in a Jewish household.

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Discussion Comments

By fBoyle — On Oct 06, 2014

Does anyone know what a Jew pronounces before the schechita (slaughter)? I don't understand how the name of the God pronounced before slaughter is not the same for kosher and halal meat. Allah just means "God" in Arabic. As far as I know, Muslims say "bismillah" which means "with the name of Allah (God) and "Allahu Akbar" (God is Great) before slaughter. Don't Jews say the same thing or something similar, except in Hebrew?

Both Jews and Muslims are people of the book (along with Christians). They all believe in the same God, right? So does it matter which language "God" is pronounced in?

By fify — On Oct 06, 2014

@candyquilt-- Yes, but Kosher dietary laws are still more strict than halal dietary laws. Muslims can mix dairy and meat for example.

By candyquilt — On Oct 05, 2014

The dietary restrictions about meat in kosher and halal diets are practically the same. Rabbits for example are not halal either. Only animals with hooves are allowed (except for pigs), animals with paws are haram (forbidden). As for seafood, some Muslims feel that non-fish seafood are also not allowed. So kosher and halal are far more similar than people realize.

I'm Muslim and when I can't find a halal certified food, or when I'm in doubt about something, I select the kosher option if it is available. I know that if what I'm eating is kosher, it's also most likely halal. I feel more confident about ingredients this way. I also have a friend who is Jewish. She told me that her father used to own a butcher's shop with a Muslim and they used to sell kosher and halal meat together.

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