This page is intended to provide answers to commonly-asked questions about our position on religious practices pertaining to food preparation such as Halal and Kosher, emphasizing that we respect the rights of all individuals to practice their faith. While some of these points are specific to Illinois and Chicago, many other states have similar laws and circumstances. The following six points should be considered:
- The spirit of kosher and halal in relation to animals slaughtered for food is to cause no pain and suffering. Kosher emphasizes living a life in peace with others as much as possible. According to Jewishveg.org, “Today, some of our most prominent rabbis are vegan or vegetarian, in accordance with the Torah ideal. And it is no coincidence that a vegan diet is the simplest way to be kosher.” Islamic law prohibits the eating of meat produced using cruel methods which violates the Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) general precept to cause animals no pain leading up to or during their slaughter. If animals are beaten or treated without compassion during production, handling, transport, and slaughter, eating the meat from such animals is prohibited.
- The customary conditions under which animals are raised and slaughtered today are inherently and unavoidably cruel and therefore violate any faith that emphasizes compassionate treatment of animals. In fact, our investigative reporting reveals needless pain and suffering — as well as suffering which could be easily prevented — such as simply providing any food or water or not forcing animals to squat in painful positions due to cruel crate confinement. And contrary to popular opinion small scale animal agriculture is not more humane than so-called factory farming. The cruel practices and conditions for animals are strikingly standardized across the industry.
- Slaughterhouses are not required to follow the dietary requirements of any major faith. Consuming no animal products is also consistent with these faiths. In any case, most stores in Jewish or Muslim faith communities sell kosher and halal certified products.
- Only two of the Type II slaughterhouses in Chicago are actually halal certified by the State of Illinois, despite many establishments advertising “halal.” The other 11 are not. None hold a kosher certification. Since the majority of Chicago slaughterhouses don’t slaughter or source animals raised in accordance with religious laws, religious exemptions don’t necessarily apply.
- According to Illinois Halal Food Act, “It is a Class B misdemeanor for any person to: (1) falsely represent any animal sold, grown, or offered for sale to be grown in a halal way to become food for human consumption; (2) falsely represent any food sold, prepared, served, or offered for sale to be halal.”
- The claim of religious freedom is often used as a blanket justification to break any laws associated with slaughtering animals. But according to attorney Nora Constance Marino who has worked extensively in the area of religious freedom law, “All citizens must obey the law, regardless of religious belief. Existing laws cannot be violated in the name of religion; rather, laws can be deemed unconstitutional if they infringe upon one’s religious beliefs or if they ‘target’ a religious sect.”