Tuesday, 19 June 2012

My jouney to veganism and my Islamic perspective

It's very dark and cold here and I would SO much rather be sleeping than blogging but it seems that if I want to get this written now is going to be my only chance. Once the kids get up that is usually my only alone time gone for the day..... It seems my little man has some kind of sensor that wakes him up when I am having suhoor (he only wakes up when I am preparing food and every other time he sleeps through) and once he sees me eating he starts yelling (he literally yells at me in his baby babbling) for me to give him food lol even if he has his own food he still only wants mine. Anyway today he has slept through for once alhamdulillah and so I get to write this blog post which I have been meaning to for such a long time now.

I have been a vegetarian for 16 years now and it started off because as a child I was so grossed out at the thought of eating dead animals, everyone thought it was a phase that I would get over as I came from a huge meat eating family but to my family's shock it was most certainly not. The thing is that being vegetarian didn't make my lose any weight at all, I was still the chubby child I had always been and the problem kind of got worse as I got older even though I was eating far less calories than my friends were eating.

When I hit 24 I was at my largest I had ever been by a long shot, I weighed very, very close to three hundred pounds whilst eating a vegetarian diet, proof that it is possible to be morbidly obese and a vegetarian. Anyway to cut a long story short I first started by adopting a vegan diet and walking three days a week for an hour and a half and I was watched in amazement as the pounds just fell off even though I was eating more food than ever. After I lost the first 30 pounds I started belly dancing classes and eventually I took up running and with all of these factors combined managed to weigh less than I did when I was 12.

When I was pregnant however I started eating dairy again, I was so unhappy and one of my only comforts was in food and as a result I gained far more than I definitely should have! Cheese and chocolate are not kind to me.

However when I converted to Islam and when people found it I didn't eat meat or dairy or wheat it was like a slap in the face to them, they took it sooooo personally and to heart. As one blogger put it "It's like they think it is the sixth pillar of Islam" I have had so many like hour long debates with people, I have even been accused of not being a Muslim because of it! Others tell me it is a huge act of haram to be a vegetarian and it goes on and on.

I really don't get this attitude, I don't care what people eat actually, if they choose to stuff their faces with 10 cheeseburgers then it is not be job to argue that with them, it is their body and their choice and none of my business actually. I have never or will ever state that eating meat is haram however I don't think the cultural attachment of eating huge quantities of meat is the best idea for anyone. There are narrations in fact from Imam Ali (as) discouraging the eating of too much meat.  “Don’t let your stomach become a graveyard for animals” is one; “Eating meat excessively will harden your heart” is another.

I recently watched the documentary knives over forks and it made me think what the heck am I doing by risking my health once again and it was straight back to the vegan diet. But the health issues aside I started to look alot more into treatment of animals who are sent for slaughter but mostly the dairying cows took my interest. I always found it ironic how people would go to huge lengths to ensure they would make sure their meat is halal but at the same time they would happily eat eggs which came from hens that were caged (as we know these hens lead a horrendous, painful, torturous life) if a food has been produced by measures of extreme cruelty , does it make it halal? Well I am not alone in my thinking that because of the mandates of being kind to animals in Islam then most probably it isn't. 

There is not an animal (that lives) on the earth, nor a being that flies on its wings, but (forms part of) communities like you. Nothing have We omitted from the Book, and they (all) shall be gathered to their Lord in the end. (Sura 6:38)

“A good deed done to an animal is as meritorious as a good deed done to a human being, while an act of cruelty to an animal is as bad as an act of cruelty to a human being.”

“He who takes pity {even} on a sparrow and spares its life, Allah will be merciful on him on the Day of Judgment.”

“Allah (God) will not give mercy to anyone, except those who give mercy to other creatures.

As I looked more into this dairying aspect and I pored over hours of photos and websites and books I became more and more convinced that this was something I could never take a part in ever again. The following is just a small segment taken from a reputable website.

Because dairy cows are milked so excessively,  dairy cows have increased risks of teat diseases like mastitis. Symptoms of mastitis include include hot, swollen, acutely painful udders, fever, and loss of appetite. When a cow has mastitis her udder may become so inflamed that it is as hard as a stone, and blood bubbles into her milk, which becomes clotted and watery 12. Severe cases of mastitis can kill a cow in less then 24 hours. Modern dairy cows have been bred for milk production to the point where the teats of their enlarged udders dangle close to the ground, and become muddy and infected. 13

Although tail docking is not as common in cattle as in sheep, the tails of some dairy cows are amputated using a tight rubber ring, or a searing iron, in order to “improve comfort for milking personnel, and enhance milking efficiency,” 13 or to try and stop mastitis. However, the scientific evidence for mastitis prevention is inconclusive. A US study by researcher Dan Weary found no health benefits in chopping off cows’ tails. 14

Amputation is very painful, as the cow’s tail is richly supplied with nerves and blood vessels. Cows need their tails to swat away insects, and possibly to communicate with other cows. Docked cows try in vain to flick their tail stumps, and are likely to suffer from neuropathic pain, similar to the “phantom limb” pain experienced by human amputees. 16  Cattle may also be branded for identification.

Calves are often dehorned to prevent damage or bruising to their carcass during slaughter. Calf's may be dehorned with bolt cutters, scoop dehorners or a butchers saw. This causes pain, bleeding and exposure of the frontal sinuses in older animals. 13 The pain can last 6 hours after dehorning. 15 Dehorning is often done without the use of anaesthetics.

I seriously believe that if our Prophet (saw) was to see this inhumane and cruel treatment he would just not stand for it, yet by drinking dairy am I not supporting it just the same?

For those worried that I somehow am depriving myself or my children of calcium, dairy companies continually promote dairy products for calcium and bone health. However dairy products are actually quite low in calcium, compared to foods like soy milk, almonds, nuts, apricots, broccoli, figs, and tofu.In fact, one serving of sesame seeds has almost double the calcium as a glass of cows' milk and one serving of soymilk has almost 100 milligrams more calcium then a serving of cows' milk.

I understand this is a controversial subject and I am talking about my own belief sytem for myself. Any comments that I deem disrespectful or inappropriate will be deleted. If you feel the need to tell me how I am making something haram which is halal (which I have clearly stated I am not) then I suggest you write your own blog post about it and tell me about it never.

On a lighter note I am off to make Egyptian Pumpkin pie

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked, pureed pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup mixed chopped nuts (I use almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts)
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1-2 tsp cinnamon
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp agave syrup
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp natural vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp plain flour or corn flour (for a GF option)
  1. This step is optional: lightly toast the nuts in a pan on medium heat until just golden.
  2. Mix the chopped nuts, raisins cinnamon, nutmeg and agave together to make the filling.
  3. To make the almond creme bechamel, whisk the flour into the almond milk and add the vanilla essence in a pan. Bring to the boil and stir continuously until it thickens – add more almond milk or some water if too thick.
  4.  Grease a baking dish with coconut oil and layer half the pumpkin mix on the bottom, cover with the nut mixture, and add the rest of the pumpkin on top.
Depending on how big of a portion you’re making, you could have several alternating layers.
Add the almond creme bechamel on top, and bake at 220 C for about 15 minutes or until golden brown, 

Hae a beautiful and blessed day xxx



  1. Assalamu Alaykum Bonnie,

    Your son is adorable hehe, may Allah make it easy for you. SubhanAllah, some people really judge others. I'm the type who cannot see an animal treated badly! My cats would kill birds sometimes because they are cats, so why not bury the bird? I'm even that sensitive that I shed tears or feel guilty at heart when someone or I must kill a spider, so instead, I take it out of my house...some people think that's crazy...God knows better.... About cruelty to animals, sometimes even the Muslims don't kill the animal in a proper way, they even lock them up instead of being a -good shepherd- No doubt we will have a paranoia with the meat, I always think how did it die? But as long as the ones who sacrifice the animal in a way that Allah is pleased with, then it will be halal. Allah is just and fair to all his creatures and he set for us the most superior and best of laws to all laws. Man made law can't be the same. Even the animals have a duty in their part and if they sacrifice in the correct manner then they will be obedient to their lord.

    Everything will be brought forth in the day of judgement, like how you treated this animal. Even an ant.
    Thanks for sharing, have a wonderful day

  2. It's weird how people have a thought on every little thing you choose to do or not to do. Where is our freedom?

    I've always been used to meat, but I was eating less since I was living alone. But A. came and he CAN'T stay a day without meat, it's like his drug! How funny!

    Stay true to yourself Bonnie and let others talk, they won't stop anyway. xxx

  3. As salaam alaikum,
    I think Allah has given a list of halal and haram things in the Quran and we can't add to them nor can we deduct from them, but we are allowed to choose the food we like to eat, it is not a must that we must eat a certain thing because it is halal.
    We can choose food from the halal which we like as long as we stay healthy and not deny our bodies the nutrition. As long as we do not consider vegetarianism or non veg. to be a part of religion like some religions practice, inshaAllah we are safe.

    "Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet never criticized any food (presented him), but he would eat it if he liked it; otherwise, he would leave it (without expressing his dislike). (Book #56, Hadith #764)"
    Personally for me, we like both veg and non veg food.
    Considering the fact that we can't afford an all veg diet because of lack of nutritions and the high cost of some of the alternatives to meat and dairy it would be hard for people like me to make the change to a vegan diet. I don't know why but a handful of almonds and other protein alternatives are more expensive ( maybe because they don't grow here), it is easier to feed a family with a kilo of meat than a kilo of almonds or other alternatives.

    I think it is good to consider animal rights and inhumane practices, but we must also remember that most of the earths population is poor and they need the nutrition they can get and as long as they are able to get halal food, inshaAllah Allah will sustain them and keep them healthy.
    For all those who malpractice, they will get their just punishment when the time comes.

  4. Great post Bonnie. Although I am not 100% vegetarian I would like to be one day, inshaAllah. I am beyond shocked that muslims treated you that way. How would they feel if you told them eating meat is haram and making them debate for hours about why eating meat is ok in islam. My husband is Moroccan and moroccans, as are a lot of arabs are obsessed with meat. There mentality is, if you dont eat meat, there is something wrong with them. I pack my husbands lunch every day and majority of the food I pack him is vegetarian dishes. He likes meat, but prefers to eat it once a week, not daily like all of his other workmates who are moroccan. They tease him and make him feel bad because hes not bringing meat everyday. That of course angers me. Anyway, thanks for the link to the documentary, im going to watch it as soon as I can, inshaAllah.

  5. Beautiful blog! Trust that vegetarianism is increasing worldwide and even among Muslims.
    The fact that it is meticulously dictated how Muslims are to handle cattle or even slaughter is more proof that it is more about compassion than anything else. If I choose to be compassionate towards animals, how can I be refusing the teachings of the prophet?
    God bless you! Push on being vegan and hopefully more people will convert eventually.

    1. And God bless you too!Thank you for your kind comment Nuhad it truly means a lot :)

  6. Not eating meat doesn't make you not muslim. A muslim should be balanced in what they eat