Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Daily Email Edition

Get MN Daily NEWS delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday!


Fareed: Meeting the demand for halal dining in Minnesota

Let’s add halal to the menu.
Image by Graphic by Wejdan Al Balushi
An imposition many Minnesotan Muslims eaters face is a lack of halal options.

Going out to eat with your friends and family is an experience everyone enjoys. With a vast amount of restaurants to choose from, it can be hard to narrow down a location. For many Muslims, however, those options are narrowed by the fact few places in Minnesota offer halal dining. 

In Islam, Muslims are expected to consume only halal items. Halal means permissible in Arabic. Food that is halal must adhere to Islamic requirements. 

“The animal can’t be killed in front of other animals because it will cause the other animals to feel fear,” said Amina Sanchez, an employee at the Rabata Cultural Center & Bookshop. “The way that the animals are treated before they’re killed matters as well. They’re not supposed to be abused and you have to say the name of God before you kill the animal.”

Animal care is an essential part of the halal process. Animals must be fed vegetarian diets and cannot be treated with antibiotics or growth hormones, since the hormones may contain pork-based ingredients. 

While many Arabic, Somali and Indian restaurants in Minnesota offer halal options, it is difficult to find popular food chains that offer the same novelty. 

“It’s really difficult. You can’t go to McDonald’s or Burger King in Minnesota and expect them to serve halal options, but there are places like Chicago and Texas, where there is a large Muslim population, and they have chain restaurants that offer halal food as well,” said Shameem Khan, a Muslim citizen of Minnesota. 

It’s difficult to ascertain the exact population of Muslims in Minnesota because the U.S. Census Bureau is prohibited from asking questions relating to religion on census forms. In the Twin Cities, the Muslim population range is estimated to be around 20,000 to 130,000, depending on the source. 

Introducing halal options can be great for business.

The French fast food chain Quick was able to identify the benefits of offering halal options in areas where there was a high Muslim population. The chain conducted a six-month trial in several large cities around France and found that sales of giant halal burgers ran far ahead of the national average, as well as doubling customers and increasing the amounts they spent. Quick had to hire 25 more staff at each of the 22 halal-only outlets to keep up with demand.

The Muslim population in America is projected to become the second-largest religious group by 2040. Already, demand for halal meats is on the rise, with sales increasing by 15% from 2012 to 2015, according to a Nielsen report of U.S. sales. 

Restaurants like BB.Q Chicken in Minneapolis, Popeyes in Brooklyn Center and Thai Express in Maple Grove (where I work) are serving halal options in their prospective locations. These restaurants acknowledge the demand in Minnesota and are adapting their menus to expand their market base. 

Advocating for halal options is the first step that needs to be taken. Starting in 2017, the University of Minnesota began offering Kosher and halal foods in dining halls. Jewish and Muslim Student groups were able to accomplish this by speaking up and letting the University know what they needed. 

“The issue is, many restaurants don’t know what the word halal is or what it means,” Khan said. “If we [Muslims] talk to them or explain that the demand is there, they may begin selling halal as well.”

The concept of halal food, however, is not met without controversy. 

Thomas Reuters and DinarStandard analyzed over 50,000 social media posts that mentioned the word “halal” by people 18 to 35 in 2016 and found 18% of posts had Islamaphobic themes. The origins of these posts were more likely to come from Europe, Australia and the United States. 

In 2014, Denmark announced that it would ban halal and kosher slaughtering practices. In Denmark, it is unlawful to slaughter animals before sedation. Jewish law strictly forbids the use of stunning, and in Islamic law, the use of stunning is not recommended. 

Dismantling the fear of the unknown is important when creating positive rhetoric. The word halal is not something that should incite panic. When it comes to food, it signifies how meat has been prepared. If the classifications gluten-free or vegetarian do not stir a reaction, then neither should terms like kosher or halal. 

Embracing the diversity of dietary needs and preferences is vital for a thriving and inclusive restaurant industry. While the availability of halal options in Minnesota may currently be limited, there is a growing awareness of the demand for such options among the Muslim population. It is time for restaurant owners to meet diverse communities halfway and start adding options that accommodate all dietary needs. 

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Accessibility Toolbar

Comments (0)

All The Minnesota Daily Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *