Does Islam permit a Muslim to be a Vegan or Vegetarian?

What is Veganism?

The Vegan Society defines veganism as:

“A philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms, it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.”

(Ref: vegansociety.com)

This philosophy is contrary to Islamic beliefs and the Sunnah. Whoever adopts it or calls to it has opposed the Qur’an and Sunnah. Allah (the Most High) stated:

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ كُلُوا مِمَّا فِي الْأَرْضِ حَلَالًا طَيِّبًا وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا خُطُوَاتِ الشَّيْطَانِ ۚ إِنَّهُ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُّبِينٌ

O mankind! Eat of that which is lawful and good on the earth, and follow not the footsteps of Shaitan. Verily, he is to you an open enemy.” (Al-Baqarah: 168)

Allah has permitted all food that He made lawful and good for people. Vegans adopt a totally animal-free lifestyle which opposes this and other Quranic verses. Allah (the Most High) also stated:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَوْفُوا بِالْعُقُودِ ۚ أُحِلَّتْ لَكُم بَهِيمَةُ الْأَنْعَامِ إِلَّا مَا يُتْلَىٰ عَلَيْكُمْ غَيْرَ مُحِلِّي الصَّيْدِ وَأَنتُمْ حُرُمٌ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَحْكُمُ مَا يُرِيدُ

Lawful to you for food are all the beasts of cattle except that which will be announced to you herein―and game is unlawful when you assume Ihram for Hajj or ‘Umrah. Verily, Allah commands that which He wills.” (Al-Mā’idah: 1)

Based on this it is harām (prohibited) for a Muslim to adopt a vegan way of life out of choice. It is also impermissible to adopt a vegan diet (due to its underlying philosophy) unless a person is diagnosed with allergies or finds his body is intolerant to all animal products such as milk, eggs, cheese, meat, fish, honey, etc and becomes sick when he eats them. That is because veganism is predicated on saving animals from “human cruelty” and from “usurping their possessions” such as milk, eggs, meat and hide.

Allah allowed meat from cattle, game and the produce of the sea:

يَسْأَلُونَكَ مَاذَا أُحِلَّ لَهُمْ ۖ قُلْ أُحِلَّ لَكُمُ الطَّيِّبَاتُ ۙ وَمَا عَلَّمْتُم مِّنَ الْجَوَارِحِ مُكَلِّبِينَ تُعَلِّمُونَهُنَّ مِمَّا عَلَّمَكُمُ اللَّهُ ۖ فَكُلُوا مِمَّا أَمْسَكْنَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَاذْكُرُوا اسْمَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ ۖ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ سَرِيعُ الْحِسَابِ – 5:4

“They ask you, O Prophet, what has been made lawful for them. Say, ‘Lawful for you are all good foods and game animals caught by your trained hunting animals which you train as Allah has taught you. So eat of what they catch for you, and mention the name of Allah upon it, and fear Allah…” (Al-Mā’idah: 4)

And due to the verse:

أُحِلَّ لَكُمْ صَيْدُ الْبَحْرِ وَطَعَامُهُ مَتَاعًا لَّكُمْ وَلِلسَّيَّارَةِ ۖ

“Lawful to you is the game from the sea and its food as provision for you and the travellers…” (Al-Mā’idah: 96) 

The Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said about the sea: “Its water is pure and its creatures are permissible to eat.” (An-Nasā’i no. 4350)

And Allah stated: “This day I have made lawful to you all that is good, and the slaughtered meat of the People of the Book is halāl for you and your slaughtered meat is halāl for them.” (Al-Mā’idah: 5)

It is from the food of Paradise:

وَأَمْدَدْنَاهُم بِفَاكِهَةٍ وَلَحْمٍ مِّمَّا يَشْتَهُونَ

“And We shall provide them with fruit and meat, such as they desire.” (At-Tūr: 22)

Vegans also prohibit honey, as the Vegan Society states:

“Honey is probably the product most frequently mistaken as vegan-friendly. There is a common misconception that honey bees make their honey especially for us, but this couldn’t be much further from the truth.

Honey is made by bees for bees, and their health can be sacrificed when it is harvested by humans. Importantly, harvesting honey does not correlate with The Vegan Society’s definition of veganism, which seeks to exclude not just cruelty, but exploitation.” (Ref: vegansociety.com)

Allah (the Most High) said about honey: “There comes forth from their bellies (the bees), a drink of varying colour wherein is a healing for men.” (An-Nahl: 69) Allah made it a sweet, healthy and healing drink, yet the vegans prohibit it.

A’ishah (radiyallāhu ‘anhā) said: “The Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) used to like sweet edible things and he liked honey.” (Bukhari, no. 5682)

And he (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “Healing is in three things: cupping, a gulp of honey or cauterization but I forbid my followers to use cauterization.” (Bukhari, no. 5681)

Vegans also disallow milk

But Muslims believe that the fresh milk of cows is a cure, as the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “Indeed Allah, the Most High, did not create a disease except that He created for it a cure. So drink cow’s milk, for indeed it feeds from every herbage.” (See Sahīh al-Jāmi’, no. 1808).

Ibn al-Qayyim stated over seven centuries ago: “Milk is at its best when freshly milked.” He also said: “Milk, in general, is the most beneficial drink for the human body due to the nutritive elements contained in it.” (Zād al-Ma’ād, 3/353). A Muslims does not abandon all of this goodness out of choice.

The milk of the cow is beneficial due to what it feeds upon that passes through into the milk as is clear from the Prophetic words. Milk that is fresh, non-pasteurized, non-homogenized and organic is best for health and well-being.

As for a vegetarian diet, then whoever chooses that based upon the belief that eating meat and fish involves animal cruelty and therefore should be avoided has opposed the Qur’an, Sunnah and the consensus (ijmā’) of the Muslims―he is misguided and ignorant of Islam.

Muslims slaughter cattle as an obligation during the Hajj pilgrimage, and most Hajj and Umrah violations require a sacrifice of an animal as expiation. Muslims also slaughter sheep after a child is born (‘aqeeqah) and on the day of ‘Eid Al-Adhā (camels, cows, sheep, goats). The Prophet and his Companions ate from the meat they slaughtered on ‘Eid Adhā and on other occasions.

Abdullah bin al-Hārith said: “We ate alongside Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) roast meat in the Mosque.” (Ibn Mājah, no. 3311) and he said: “We used to eat bread and meat in the masjid during the lifetime of Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam).” (Ibn Maajah no. 3300) Both narrations are authentic.

No Muslim could ever believe that the Prophets of Allah and their companions engaged in cruelty towards animals. Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) stated: “Whoever prays our prayer, faces our Qiblah and eats our slaughtered meat is a Muslim, and he is under the protection of Allah, and the protection of His Messenger,” (Al-Bukhāri, no. 391) So, why would a Muslim forbid himself from cattle, chicken, fish and other animal products totally? If a person does not like the taste of certain meats or certain animal products, then, of course, there is no compulsion to eat them because that avoidance is not doctrinal or philosophical―it is based on taste―such as some people preferring not to eat liver, kidney or certain animals. There is no harm in that―but that is a far cry from denying oneself every land animal, sea creature and bird (from that which the Sharī’ah permits)―and (in the case of vegans) milk, eggs, butter, yoghurt, ghee, honey, etc on the basis of a corrupt philosophy.

If the vegetarian diet is based on medical advice due to health issues, or allergies, or disease, or intolerance to meats or meat products, then (no doubt) he should avoid those foods which put him in harm’s way. The avoidance here is not doctrinal or philosophical but instead due to health and medical considerations.

Read about: Health, Sickness and the Importance of a Healthy Diet in the Light of Islam

2 Comments

  1. As salama aleykum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatu Ustaadh, I would like to ask what is the ruling on choosing to NOT consume any animal products such as meats and dairy due to the fact that they are processed, injected with all sorts of toxins, chemicals, antibiotics etc.

    • Wa ‘alaykumus-salaam wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh.

      Crops, fruits and vegetables undergo the similar toxic and chemical treatments. So, it is best to buy organic, natural foods. In meat products, this may be prove expensive, so try to at least stick to free-range meat, chicken and eggs. Organic, raw, unhomogenised, unpasterised milk is best and still widely available. Try and buy local produce from smaller farms so you can ask questions that you can’t really ask big suppliers. And look for farmers’ markets in your area. Birmingham has several open air farmers’ markets every month, for example.

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