Is It Haram to be Vegetarian?

Is It Haram to be Vegetarian?


Salam, brother. I wanted to know, is it haram to be a vegetarian? I didn’t think so but a friend said it is since one of the reasons Allah put animals on the earth was for us to eat them, and also its wrong to make something forbidden upon yourself? What if that’s your personal taste? Jazakullah.

Wa alykum as-salaam,

I think the major reason why anyone would say that being a vegetarian is Haram is because it would contravene The Qur’an to make things Haram that are Halal.

So, the central issue here becomes: why would you be a vegetarian?

If you would assign some sort of religious/spiritual meaning towards your vegetarianism, then I would have to agree, because this would be you adding an element to the religion of Islam which does not exist, as human diets are many times constructed from this perspective, and when you delve further into them, they are many times the products of power relations between different classes of society and clothed in pseudo-spiritual language which masks their true source.

Now, that being said, I know of many Muslims who are vegetarians in the West, not out of choice, but because they follow guidelines of what is Halal very strictly, and thus, have become “vegetarians” when eating out for that reason.

Are they making something Haram which is Halal? No, of course they are not.

If someone simply does not like the taste of meat, and do not eat it, are they therefore making what is Halal into something Haram? No, that is merely their taste.

If someone has certain medical conditions or are taking certain medicines, and are unable to eat certain foods (whether meat or otherwise), even if said foods are completely Halal, are they therefore making it Haram? No, we would not say that.

If a doctor ruled that a person could not eat meat, because they have high blood pressure, or whatever (I’m clearly not a doctor) then this would not be making something Haram which is Halal.

If someone is a vegetarian because they believe that the way that animals are being slaughtered today (whether in the West or otherwise), do not conform to the principles and standards set about by The Qur’an, and thus avoid meat because of this, I do not think they are making what is Halal into something that is Haram.

This position might be a little stringent, but still, it is distinct from making something Halal into something Haram.

Therefore, the issue becomes whether you justify your vegetarianism through spiritual/religious means, because there is nothing in The Qur’an that would support vegetarianism, for the sake of vegetarianism, as a religiously justified position.

However, for a whole host of other reasons, vegetarianism, if practiced for medical purposes, for lack of access to Halal food, or merely because of one’s personal preferences of taste, I would argue that these are acceptable conditions and are different, fundamentally from a position which equates vegetarianism with a higher standard for humanity and/or with a religious/spiritual dimension.

I hope that this is clear, and that people do not misconstrue me as saying that “vegetarianism is Halal” because, I cannot argue that being a vegetarian (for the sake of vegetarianism) is an endeavor which is Halal, because that would add spiritual and religious dimensions to a practice which has no Islamic basis. However, if one is vegetarian for medical, and various other positions outlined above, then I feel like there is nothing wrong with that.

Insha Allah, I hope this answers your question, and that if you, or anyone else, has a question on this, or any other subject, please do not hesitate to ask me.

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