While Yale has long offered a variety of dining options for meat eaters and vegetarians, the University did not provide dietary alternatives for Muslim students until last week.
Following numerous requests from the Muslim Students Association, Yale University Dining Hall Services has introduced a Halal meat option for Muslim students that will be available in all residential college dining halls for lunch and dinner. Yale will also offer a full Halal meal once a week in one residential college dining hall on campus. Muslim students on campus said they are excited about the changes made to accommodate the Muslim community, but they think the recent initiatives are long overdue.
“The introduction of Halal meat option is indeed a very positive change and the MSA is very happy about this development,” MSA President Ahmed Makani ’07 said. “But this did not happen overnight. The MSA has been raising this issue of Halal food option for Muslim students over the past few years. Last year, the administration finally acknowledged that the absence of Halal food does take a lot away from the Yale experience of many of the Muslim students on campus.”
The Koran lays out strict requirements for what constitutes Halal, or lawful, meat. In order for meat to be considered Halal, it must come from a herbivorous animal that is slaughtered in the name of Allah. The meat also cannot come from pigs, or any land animals without external ears. Everything else falls into the category of Haram, or unlawful, meat.
Altaf Saadi ’08 said this change is such an important issue for Yalies because some other Ivies have offered Halal options for years.
“This absence [of Halal meats] in the past was an issue since many other Ivies — including Harvard — have had this option available for their students for a while,” Saadi said.
At Brown, Halal meat options have been offered since 1994, while they have been available at Harvard since 1999. But while both Cornell and Dartmouth began offering Halal meats in 2004, Columbia does not have a consistent Halal dining option. The actions of these other Ivies prompted Muslims at Yale to push for change.
Before the University introduced Halal options, many Muslim students chose to become vegetarians, Makani said. With the changes, which were finalized last year, Halal hot dogs and hamburgers will be made to order upon request in all of the college dining halls at every lunch and dinner.
Fuat Savas ’06 said he is pleased with the changes, even though he does not adhere to all parts of the Halal restrictions.
“I personally did not follow Halal too strictly, which means that the new options will not significantly change my diet,” Savas said. “[But] one part of Halal eating that I adhered to was not eating pork — so no hot dogs for me. I’m looking forward to the all beef hot-dogs.”