The fasting month of Ramadan is in full swing. After a day of fasting, after sunset it is time for a feast. A plant-based iftar fits perfectly with Islam, says Islam expert Enis Odaci. "Mohammed called for dates to be eaten instead of sheep. The trend from then is coming back."
Rotating kebab meat on a spit, slaughtered animals on hooks, large street barbecues and hundreds of slaughtered sheep during the Feast of Sacrifice: meat is abundant in Islamic cultures. However, calling Islamic cultures typical meat cultures is exaggerated, even a bit rude, according to Islam expert Enis Odaci.
"Eating halal is an important religious duty, not eating meat and vegetarianism and veganism are new trends in the Islamic world." Enis Odaci, expert on Islam
"The meat that religious Muslims eat is halal and is more visually present in society. That does not mean that Muslims eat more meat than non-Muslims who get their unrecognizable package from the supermarket."
A king with a herd
According to Odaci, the idea that the Islamic world revolves around large meat festivals, that idea is immediately allowed out of the world. "In the past prosperity and wealth revolved around meat. Those who had livestock were a kind of king."
Mohammed broke the trend, says Onaci. Take what nature gives you, said the prophet Muhammad: take a date, eat melons against thirst and respect the animals.
"Especially during Ramadan, which is about controlling needs and your gluttony, leaving meat is just right. Eating halal is an important religious duty, not eating meat and vegetarianism and veganism are new trends in the Islamic world."
“But I believe in Islam and I believe in veganism. Mohammed himself was almost completely vegetarian. ” Marouzza Verlinden
Marouzza Verlinden, a Muslim and vegan, orders a tasty vegan cake for himself during Sugar Feast, makes kebab skewers from kidney beans and eats a light, plant-based meal in the evening after fasting.
Much more is not a vegan Muslim, she says. "It amazes me every year that breaking the fast is so often accompanied by overly full tables and that the Sugar Feast is celebrated as big as an engagement. That is really abundance and very different per community. All that meat, eggs, sugar and pasta are a direct attack on your body if you have fasted for so long. "
"If you want to be a good Muslim: first share your meat and your prosperity with forty others, and then enjoy luxury products such as meat yourself." Enis Odaci
During Ramadan, Verlinden says, she wants to focus on more than just not eating or not. "Besides fasting, I read the Quran, I pray longer and focus on what our life here on earth means. If I can combine that, I have the ultimate Ramadan. It's not about how full your table is, how much you lost and the amount of people you break your fast with, but for your spiritual development. "
As a vegan Muslim convert, Verlinden says, she gets a lot of comment. "According to the belief, the eating of animals is allowed, but it is not mandatory in any form. The mass production of animals with a halal certificate, I call that more contradictory than a vegan Muslim. The prophet Mohammed was ninety percent vegetarian and to whom can you better to take an example in faith than the Prophet? I believe in Islam and I believe in veganism. Veganism fits perfectly in every religion, I think. "
"Are you a real Muslim?"
A vegan lifestyle may fit perfectly within religion ; not really within Iraqi culture, says Yuser (24), who has been eating vegetable for a year. She comes from an Iraqi family and especially found resistance when she started eating only vegetable.
"I got reactions that I had a hard time with, such as: are you a real Muslim? The Koran says that animal products are allowed to eat, so why am I not doing that? Ramadan is all about eating together, and I am an outsider. That creates a commotion and has more to do with culture and generational differences than with religion, I think. But I find it difficult. "
The Sugar Feast is not celebrated very enthusiastically among Iraqis, she says. "The idea is that not everyone has enough food, and bunkering and preparing too much food is not appropriate. That makes a difference. It also makes it easier for us not to get together with many people. On the other hand, my parents pay attention now extra on me and what I eat. Fortunately they see how healthy I feel. I pay close attention to my proteins and take that very seriously. I used to be dizzy during Ramadan: not this time. "
Islam is not necessarily meat oriented, says Odaci: our entire society seems to be about meat. "If you want to be a good Muslim: first share your meat and your prosperity with forty others, and then enjoy luxury products such as meat yourself."