The Concept of Veganism in Islam

By Ahmed Safi

Palestinian Animal League

Not a lot has been said about veganism in Islam; even interpretations that attempt to deal

with the subject often misrepresent Islam and its teachings, which are taken from the Quran and

the Sunna.

From our study of existing literature relating veganism to Islam, the majority do not deal

vegan in Islam

vegan in Islam

with the question of allowing or prohibiting eating meat in Islam. We have found, however, that

the majority of writings come from Muslims living outside of the Arab world. For this reason,

the religious teachings of these authors may have undergone western influence. Furthermore,

they may not have considered the significant changes in technology and development in the past

1400 years since the Quran was written. In this article, we instead wish to explore how veganism

relates to Islam in the modern Arab world.

The concept of veganism means abstaining from consuming any animal products and to

substitute it with the widely available vegan alternatives. This does not mean that a vegan

Muslim claims that eating meat is prohibited because a Muslim cannot prohibit something that

God had allowed: “do not prohibit the good things which Allah has made lawful to you. ” 1

But eating meat is not a religious obligation, and according to Islam, a Muslim is not rewarded for

eating meat, nor is it a sin to abstain from consuming it. Therefore a Muslim is completely free to

become vegan for ethical or personal reasons. Many people choose a vegan diet because it is

healthier for our bodies and our planet, as the meat industry today is the source of many harms

on our health and on the environment ” 2 .

1400 years ago, Arabs depended on livestock as a main source of food and clothes. The

desert climate did not allow them to grow vegetables or grains or fruits except for dates.

Therefore, animal meat was consumed, but in moderation and in a more merciful way, unlike

today’s factory farms.

Moreover, many of the technological developments in the meat industry contradict the

Muslim regulations on how to slaughter animals. There are strict conditions in Islam concerning

raising and killing animals. Most of them explain that animal slaughter should cause the least

possible suffering to the animal. These teachings also concerned the treatment of animals, such

as how to move them from one place to another. Today, the meat industry looks very different in

the Arab world.

Islam condones equality between humans and animals: ”Shall we be rewarded for

showing kindness to the animals also? ” He said, ”A reward is given in connection with every

living creature ”.

English translation : Vol. 5, Book 42, Hadith 4354

Furthermore, Islam condemns killing animals for sport: “Who has done this? Allah has

cursed him who does this. Verily Allah’s Messenger invoked curse upon one who made a live

thing the target (of one’s marksmanship)”.

vegan in Islam

vegan in Islam

The Quran also contains many verses that focus on the importance of fruits and

vegetables. One verse, for example, begins with the vow “By the fig and the olive” 3 , and tells the

story of how Mother Mary, in anticipation of Jesus’ birth, was told by God to eat dates from the

palm tree next to her; He did not, however, tell her to eat meat or chicken.

Also when the Quran mentions paradise, it says that it contains fruits and vegetables in

addition to meat: “and We will provide them with fruit and meat from whatever they desire,” 4

“and fruit of what they select, and the meat of fowl, from whatever they desire,” “And fruits

from whatever they desire.” We can conclude that the Quran does mention meat as a source of

food, but it focuses more on fruits and gives it more importance.

Islam does allow the consumption of meat and animal products but it accompanies this

with a list of strict conditions on how to treat the animals ethically and prevent their suffering as

much as possible. It also does not prohibit veganism or consider it a sin. Thus, everyone has the

complete freedom to choose a vegan diet and abstain from eating meat. Finally, Islam appeared

at a time and a place where the climate did not allow the planting of fruits and vegetables as it

does today, and consuming meat was done in moderation. In modern times, this looks

remarkably different, as the excess of meat production that exists nowadays results in enormous

suffering for animals, our planet, and health risks for human beings.

references :-

1 Quran 5:87.


3 In-book reference : Book 42, Hadith 87

4 USC-MSA web (English) reference : Book 21, Hadith 4816

(deprecated numbering scheme)

5 Quran 95:1

6 Quran 56:20-21