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If you’re new to Islam or just want to cook a meal for yourself and some Muslim friends, you probably want to make sure you’re working within halal dietary guidelines. And since bacon is a pretty popular ingredient that most people like, you might be wondering: is bacon halal? Let’s find out.
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What Makes Something Halal or Haram?
In Islam, practitioners of the faith follow strict ethical guidelines. The Arabic word halal refers to anything permissible or lawful, while anything haram is unlawful or forbidden.
These words can be used to refer to behavior or food, but you most often hear them used in regard to food. Most Muslims assume that anything that is not haram is halal.
So what’s considered haram? The list isn’t too long:
- Pork or by-products of pork
- Meat from any animal that has not been slaughtered according to guidelines specified by the Qur’an and Hadeeth
Consuming any of these items is considered to be a serious sin and a violation of Islamic law except in extenuating circumstances. For instance, if a Muslim were in a situation where haram foods were the only ones available and had to be eaten to avoid starvation, eating haram food would not be considered a sin.
Most types of bacon are made of pork, and the answer to “is pork halal” is “no.” So what’s in halal bacon?
Is Bacon Halal? Things You Need to Know
Pork bacon isn’t halal, but it is possible to find halal bacon options. Halal bacon is bacon that is (1) not made of pork and doesn’t contain pork products and (2) Is made of meat from an animal that has been slaughtered in accordance with halal guidelines.
Many types of plant-based bacon also qualify as halal.
You might wonder what slaughter following halal guidelines looks like. Part of the reason behind these guidelines is to make sure the slaughter is humane. Here are the guidelines for halal slaughter:
- The person performing the slaughter must be a Muslim
- The animal must be alive before the slaughter process
- If there is a group of animals to be slaughtered, they may not be grouped together and may not watch the slaughter of other animals.
- The slaughter process must begin with the person performing the slaughter saying “Bismillah.” This means “in the name of Allah.”
- The animal must be killed by having its trachea, carotid artery, and jugular vein severed.
- An extremely sharp knife must be used to ensure a quick death.
- The animal must be hung upside down to allow the body to drain completely of blood.
There are a few other Islamic guidelines for halal meat:
- The animal may not have died from natural causes, beating, strangulation, a fall from a great height, or an attack from a predator.
- The animal may not be an amphibian.
- The animal may not be a carnivore or omnivore.
- The animal may not have been dedicated to an idol or slaughtered in the name of anyone but Allah.
These guidelines might seem like a lot to follow. But thankfully, there is a halal certification process. Many specialty stores have a section with halal-certified meat. That way, you can be absolutely sure that a given type of meat is certified.
What Meats Can Be Used for Halal Bacon?
Can Muslims eat bacon? Bacon is a meat generally synonymous with pork, but there are many different meats that can be used to make bacon.
Halal bacon is any type of halal meat that has been cut, salted, refrigerated, and allowed to cure. In most cases, the meat is smoked as well.
In short, just about any salted meat can be used to make halal bacon. Here are some popular ones:
Turkey — Turkey bacon is generally regarded as the most popular alternative. It’s a lean meat perfect for those who prefer a meat with lower fat content. It’s great on BLTs and breakfast sandwiches!
If you’ve ever had turkey bacon, you know that it has a different texture from most bacon varieties found in the food industry. Since it’s very lean, it doesn’t have the noticeable fatty portion like pork belly bacon does. If you’d rather avoid the rubbery texture that some types of pork bacon have, turkey bacon is a great choice even if you aren’t a Muslim!
Duck — Duck bacon is a decadent alternative to pork bacon. It also can be served medium-rare, so if you generally prefer medium-rare meat, it’s worth a try.
You might hear people say that duck bacon (or duck meat in general) is fatty. That’s generally true when you compare duck to lean meats like chicken or turkey. But compared to pork, duck has about 50% less fat, so it’s a great option if you want rich flavor with a lower fat content.
If you’re looking for a delicious and halal prosciutto substitute, duck prosciutto is also an especially delicious meat that is definitely worth trying.
Beef — Beef bacon has one of the meatier textures of the alternatives to regular bacon. Beef is fairly high in fat, but it also is high in iron and has some other health benefits, too.
If you’re used to pork bacon, eating beef bacon might be a departure. But its unique texture makes it a great choice for use in stews or other heavier foods. Unlike thin, crispy bacon varieties, bacon made from beef has enough presence to hold its own in a mixed dish like a soup or stew.
As a side note, if you like the idea of cured beef but want a bacon alternative, Turkish sucuk sausage is a halal food product worth trying! This is a sausage made with ground beef. It’s semi-dry and cured, and it has a distinctive spicy flavor.
Lamb — Lamb bacon isn’t one of the most common halal products out there. But if you like meat that has a distinctive gaminess to it, lamb bacon may be the alternative you’re looking for. Because it is both kosher and halal, you can often find it at Jewish delis.
The taste of lamb bacon is hard to describe if you haven’t tried it. But if you imagine the taste of lamb, lamb bacon is a more intense version of that. Its flavor goes well with spices used in Moroccan or Indian cuisine like turmeric, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, and black pepper.
Why is Pork Haram?
You now know that it isn’t just pork bacon that’s considered haram; pork itself is forbidden in Islam. But why?
In Islam, the pig is considered to be an unclean animal. Pigs will eat just about anything and will even eat their own feces! When compared to other animals, pigs also tend to carry more parasites or diseases.
Interestingly enough, Jewish law also forbids the consumption of pork. Pork or products derived from pork aren’t considered to be kosher, the Jewish equivalent to halal.
What Non-Meats Can Be Used for Halal Bacon?
You now know that if you’re looking for types of bacon with a halal certification, there’s no shortage of options out there. But you can also find vegetarian options that are halal. And if you’re someone who likes to be mindful of how much fat you consume, vegan or vegetarian bacon is a good way to go. Most of these options have fewer calories and less fat than bacon made from meat.
Just about every type of vegetarian or vegan bacon is halal. But just in case, it’s a good idea to check the ingredient label.
Vegan and vegetarian food companies seem to be always coming up with new and exciting meat alternatives. But here are some of the most common vegan/vegetarian bacon options:
Seitan — If you want a high-protein vegetarian bacon, seitan bacon is a great choice! Seitan is a plant protein that comes from wheat. Just about all carbohydrates have been removed, so seitan itself is low-carb and has a chewy, meat-like texture. Like many plant proteins, it takes on the character of whatever it happens to be seasoned with. So in many cases, seitan bacon is primarily seasoned with liquid smoke flavoring and salt.
Coconut — Coconut bacon might sound strange. After all, most of us associate coconut with sweet flavorings. But coconut bacon (made from unsweetened coconut flakes) gives you the chewy or crispy texture and flavor of bacon. This isn’t something usually found in stores, but it’s quick and easy to make at home. The main ingredients are unsweetened coconut, some type of plant oil, liquid smoke, and a range of seasonings. It isn’t quite as high in protein as some of the other options, but its texture makes it ideal as a garnish or crunchy salad topping!
If you want to make your own, check out this video showing you how. It’s surprisingly simple!
Tempeh — Tempeh is a lot like tofu, as both are made from soybeans. But tempeh is fermented and less processed. It has more protein, vitamins, and fiber than tofu. Like many other plant-based bacon alternatives, tempeh takes on the flavor of smoke and seasonings very well. It also has a meaty texture, so it’s a good choice if you want your bacon pan-fried in strips.
You can get tempeh bacon in some specialty stores, but you can also make it at home — there are plenty of easy online recipes to try!
Soy– Soy bacon is made from soy protein and tastes a little different than tempeh bacon. In many cases, the soy protein is textured to mimic the texture of bacon. Since many grocery stores primarily carry soy-based plant proteins, you’ll likely have an easy time finding soy bacon in stores.
Since soy is rich in protein, soy bacon is one of the higher-protein plant bacons out there. So if you want the protein of meat without the meat, it’s a great option!
As you may have noticed, some of these plant-based bacon alternatives can’t usually be found in grocery stores. If you have a specialty grocer or co-op near you, you might be able to find them. But don’t worry if you can’t — you can easily find and order plant-based halal bacon online.
What Brands Make Halal Bacon?
If you’re going to purchase halal bacon (meat-based or plant-based), it can be helpful to have an idea of what brand name to look for.
Fortunately, many reputable brands make halal bacon. Here are some of the brands that make meat-based bacon:
- Deen Halal
- Zabiha Halal
And here are some brands of plant-based bacon:
- Sweet Earth
- Phoney Baloney’s
Of course, there are many more brands out there, but this list should get you started!
Cooking With Halal Bacon
If you haven’t cooked with halal meat before, you might find that there’s a bit of a learning curve. But it’s well worth it, and you might even find a new favorite type of bacon! And if you’re a Muslim, we hope you’ll be happy to know that there’s a whole world of delicious types of bacon.
Still have questions on whether or not bacon is halal? Here are some answers:
Can you eat bacon in Islam?
It is a violation of Islamic law to eat pork, so you can’t eat pork bacon if you’re a Muslim. You can have meats from other animals, but be sure that it has a halal certification.
Is it haram to cook bacon?
You might wonder if Muslims are permitted to cook bacon or other non-halal meats if they don’t eat them. But preparing pork for others is considered to be haram as well, as preparing forbidden foods is helping others to sin or break Islamic law.
Is beef bacon halal for Muslims?
Usually, beef bacon is considered to be halal, as Muslims are permitted to eat cow meat. However, beef bacon is only halal if the animal has been slaughtered according to halal food guidelines.
Is Turkey bacon halal or haram?
Turkey bacon is usually halal, as Muslims are allowed to eat turkey meat. In fact, turkey bacon is likely the most popular halal food alternative to pork bacon. But like other meats, halal turkey bacon must be prepared according to halal guidelines.