A new wave of food bloogers is putting the spotlight on halal foods and carving out a niche on social media.
In a world dominated by influencers, “food porn” and sponsored posts, a new breed of Muslim foodies – colloquially known as ‘haloodies’ are carving out a niche on social media for the odd 1 billion consumers of halal food (meaning lawful in Arabic) around the globe. According to The Economist, the Islamic market will be worth more than $5 trillion by 2020, so you could say these bloggers are onto something.
Their task? Broadly, convincing the rest of the world that halal food isn’t actually that scary (on the contrary, it’s delicious, ethical, and more than worthy of the popular Instafood hashtag), and dissolving the negative stereotypes unfortunately pinned to Muslims and the food they eat.
Of course, it depends who you ask. Each ‘Haloodie’ food blog is as unique as the person or team behind it, with different aims and philosophies underpinning them.
The London Haloodie showcases fine halal food at luxury restaurants around the world, while Tazzamina is a lifestyle influencer who wants her audience to know Muslims can pull off fabulous flatlays just as good as anyone else.
Here are a few of our favourites:
Halal Gems is a blog, restaurant finder app and a digital magazine run by London-based Zohra Khaku. The blog was born from Khaku’s self-professed obsession with food and trying new restaurants, coupled with the desire to promote the most “ethically produced, fairy traded, wholesome, tayyib [an Arabic word roughly translating to anything good or pure, often said in the same sentence as halal] food available,” the website reads.
“At the end of the day our job at Halal Gems is to make sure that people have the most transparency they can, so they can make well informed choices,” Khaku tells SBS. Halal Gems shines a light on restaurants in London that are striving to make better choices all the way up the food chain, and it’s doing so for foodies looking for places to eat that meets their ethical requirements.Khaku admits that halal means different things to different people, and that we can get caught up in semantics but what we should really be championing is ethics. “One of the first rules of halal slaughter is that an animal should never see another animal being slaughtered,” she says. “Some might argue that this makes mass production of chickens impossible. Some would say the best way round this rule is to stun all chickens so that they are unconscious. Some would say that’s a ridiculous way of circumventing a rule which is in place to stop mass production in the first place. Which one is most respectful and wholesome? It’s a debate that has no clear answer, but many angles of argument.”
Nevertheless, blogs like Halal Gems are a vital communication tool in the conversation around demystifying and de-stigmatising halal food – something Australia has had its own problems with in recent times. “We do what we can to combat stigma, including hosting London’s most attended street food festival, Street Eats, where everything is halal,” she says. “It goes to show that halal food is not scary. In the UK, halal slaughter is pretty much the same guidelines as the DEFRA [Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] guidelines, so from an animal cruelty angle, if you’re slaughtering an animal, halal shouldn’t be any different to non-halal.”
The Lebanese Plate
For Lina Jebeile of The Lebanese Plate, running her blog is less about showing the world the wonders of halal and more about preserving her cultural heritage for her children.
“When my parents migrated from Lebanon to a whole new country and a whole new lifestyle, it was difficult for them to adapt,” she tells SBS. “My mum was constantly trying to hold on to her ‘Lebabese-ness’, and I feel like it’s important to be me, to be able to hold on to it, too. The only real thing I have to pass on to my kids is the food.”While Jebeile doesn’t make a point of bringing the attention of her audience to halal food specifically, eating halal is an important part of her life – all the recipes featured on her website and Instagram are made with halal ingredients. The Lebanese Plate normalises halal food, and paves the way for other Muslim bloggers to share their experience of cooking at home for their families.
“I do see [Muslim food bloggers] more often than I used to,” Jebeile says. “There are a lot more people in the community wanting that kind of food, they’re eager to go out and experiment at different”
This article was originally Published on www.sbs.com.au