By Michaela Steil
If you’ve ever been to East Side Dining and explored, you’ve probably seen the large letters above some dining locations that say “Kosher” and “Halal,” but what does that exactly mean?
There are differences between these two, but some are a little more subtle than others. Because we have such a diverse population on campus, many people may not understand what it really means to be eating kosher food versus halal food, and that’s what this blog post sets out to explain.
For something to be kosher it means it follows dietary laws as laid out in the Torah. In turn, for something to be halal, it follows the laws as set out in the Quran. A main difference is that the term halal applies to all aspects of life and means “lawful” or “permissible,” whereas kosher pertains to food and means “pure” or “proper.” When it does come to food on campus, however, you can see if it is kosher or halal based on the marking on the packaging, or where you are buying it from.
The food from Delancey Deli is kosher, but they also serves some halal food. The food from Halal at East Side Dining is halal. While this is pretty straightforward, it gets a bit harder when you’re at other locations on campus, though. Either way, there will be some kind of marking or indication to tell you on packaged and grab-and-go food. Kosher food will be shown with a “U” or “K” markings on them, and halal usually says the term itself somewhere on it.
So what actually makes food halal or kosher? There are some basic guidelines for each. For both of them, there is no pig or pig by-products permitted. Both of them also only permit meat that was prepared using ritualistic slaughter; for halal it is called dhabihah, for kosher it is shechita. The slaughter for both is quite similar, but in dhabihah, there is a prayer said beforehand. Additionally, the food can only be cooked with ware that is deemed appropriate. For example, for kosher you cannot cook dairy in a meat pan.
Another difference between the two is that in halal alcohol is forbidden, whereas in kosher it is not– Judaism often uses wine with prayers. Furthermore, for kosher food, meat and dairy cannot be combined, but it can be for halal food. Because of this, sometimes kosher food will be halal, but halal won’t be kosher because meat and dairy may have been cooked in the same pan.
There are also differences between types of kosher and halal. For example, this week Passover is starting. During this jewish holiday, there is no wheat, rye, barley, oats, and more depending on heritage. Naturally, when it comes to eating in regards to religious laws, there are several variations depending on each person. Because of this, the level of observance can vary from person to person.
If you have any questions or want to try eating according to certain guidelines, it would be best to contact a dietician, such as our campus dietician Amanda Reichardt. For more information about kosher and halal, check out SBU’s website to see where you can find the different foods: http://www.stonybrook.edu/commcms/dining/dietary-needs/halal-and-kosher.php