Sacrifice doesn't only mean killing an animal: Why I'm vegan on Eid and every other day

As a Muslim, I find going vegan far closer to my religious philosophy. It is also much better for health and for the planet. And you literally sacrifice your greed.

 |  3-minute read |   09-08-2019
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I am proud to be a vegan Muslim.

When I was a young girl, I stopped eating meat after witnessing the slaughter of a goat for qurbani.

Many children get very attached to goats kept at home. After all, the animals are loving, mischievous and playful — much like human kids. Children often become traumatised when their four-legged companions are killed.

Islam does not require eating meat. I realised at an early age that all animals desire to live and none wants to be exploited or killed for their eggs, milk or flesh, so I went vegan. Today, I run a vegan restaurant called Earthlings Café in Mumbai. And like other Muslim vegans and vegetarians, I observe Eid al-Adha by distributing vegan food or sacrificing my time to a charity that helps those in need while bringing animals no harm. 

The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him (pbuh), called for mercy for animals.

His concern for their treatment is clear throughout the Hadiths and his Sunnah. Six of the Qur'an's sÅ«ras (chapters) are named after animals — going vegan aligns well with the principles of Islam.

After all, cruelty to animals is considered similarly sinful as cruelty to humans: "A good deed done to an animal is as meritorious as a good deed done to a human being, while an act of cruelty to an animal is as bad as an act of cruelty to a human being" (Mishkat al-Masabih; Book 6; Chapter 7, 8:178). 

ians-492ff3d389dcd4c_080819070658.jpgGreat advantages: Going vegan means sparing animals and yourself from a host of dangers. (Photo: IANS)

The beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) condemned beating and branding animals. He corrected those who abused them and praised the compassionate. Hunting and killing animals for 'sport' is also prohibited — and meat is considered detestable if the animal experienced cruelty.

The practices of using dull knives and butchering animals in view of each other are prohibited in Islam although common in slaughterhouses today.  

The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), narrated by Abdallah bin Amru in Bukhari and Muslim collections, said, "Whoever is kind to the creatures of God, is kind to himself."

This quote rings especially true considering that eating tasty vegan foods spares lives, can maintain and improve one's health and reduces the risk of deadly diseases — including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, obesity and strokes. Consuming animals also exposes everyone to the risk of contracting avian flu and other potentially fatal illnesses that result from confining animals to filthy, unhygienic and crowded factory farms. 

goat4-ians-inside_080819070627.jpgCruel practices: The slaughter of animals for festivals often happens against religious observances. (Photo: IANS)

Today, environmental scientists warn us that meat, egg, and dairy production is destroying the environment. The intensive farming of tens of billions of animals each year causes more greenhouse-gas emissions than the entire global transportation industry — and a recent report warns that meat and dairy companies are set to surpass the oil industry as the world's biggest polluters. 

That is why the United Nations has called for a global shift towards a vegan diet to combat the worst effects of climate change, which is already devastating India with water shortages, severe flooding, extreme heat, droughts, rising sea levels and more.

In fact, if everyone went vegan, we could cut global greenhouse-gas emissions by 70% and prevent more than 8 million human deaths resulting from diseases linked to consuming animals by 2050.

Sacrificing means giving up something that is truly precious to you — not an animal that you just buy. We can all honour our religious traditions with cruelty and animal-free halal foods.

Try cooking biryani and masoor pulao with chunks of sumptuous soy-based vegan meat and using almond, soy, or coconut milk to make sheer korma.

There are plenty of resources online these days for vegan recipes, making veganising Eid dishes simple and fun.

And here's wishing Eid Mubarak to all!

Also read: Bindi, tulsi, sewai and Hanuman Chalisa: As a devout Muslim and a proud Indian, all of these add to who I am

Writer

Sadaa Sayed Sadaa Sayed @iamsadaasayed

The writer is an actress who mainly appears in South Indian cinema.

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