As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I have gradually been transitioning to a halal diet over the past several years. For those who aren’t familiar with the term ‘halal,’ it essentially means ‘allowed’, as in ‘not forbidden.’ It’s comparable to the word ‘kosher,’ and in fact many things that are kosher are actually also halal (though not always). Most changes I’ve made to my diet have come following learning of some food that contains one of the primary forbidden ingredients: pork or alcohol.
I am becoming increasingly aware of the fact that — unbeknownst to the common consumer– animal by-products, and especially PORK by-products are included in a lot of foods. But I was still shocked to recently learn that this not only includes food products, but extends to many non-food products as well.
Vegetarians, Vegans, and animal activists are all generally well aware of the fact that animal by-products are lurking in all kinds of items. I was most of all shocked to find that it is often used in something I had expected to be clean . . . my soap!
The Quran and hadith teach that pork is forbidden, among other things: “Forbidden to you is that which dies of itself, and blood, and flesh of swine, and that on which any other name than that of Allah has been invoked . . .” (Quran 5:3). Many Muslims agree that this also means we cannot use non-food products that contain pork. After all, you skin absorbs what you put on it, so wouldn’t the effect be similar to eating it? In a later post I will discuss further the wisdom behind pork being forbidden.
After doing some research on the issue of pork and other animal by-products, I’ve found that most of the popular soap brands include them. It’s actually hard to know whether they use pork or another animal (even if it’s another animal, it likely wasn’t slaughtered according to Islamic standards), so it’s best just to steer clear of any items using animal by-products. I’ve found that in general, if they don’t clearly mark on the bottle that they don’t have animal by-products, then they probably do. After much frustration over this issue, and after considering buying halal-certified body care products online (which can be very expensive), a friend informed me that many organic grocery stores sell body products that are free of animal by-products and animal testing.
So I recently took a trip to a Sprouts store near my home to see what I could find. There were many options of soaps to choose from, all clearly marked on the labels that they are vegetarian and contain no animal by-products. I picked out a couple to try; they all smell so great, it was hard to choose!
The only down-side to this is the cost– organic and natural products tend to be more expensive. I tried to pick soaps that were on the less-expensive side, including one that was Sprouts’ own brand. I’ll talk about my experience with these in the future and make sure I insert the link here. So as not to be wasteful, I’ve decided not to throw out all my old body care products at once, but will transition as they are used up. I’m curious to see what difference I find in the new products– I’ve been having some skin and scalp issues lately (itchy skin, hives– my skin has always been sensitive and prone to allergies) and I’m wondering if this will help it get better. I’m sure there’s more benefits to this change rather than just there being no pork– less chemicals, for example. Only time will tell!
Has anyone else switched to organic/ natural body products? Have you seen any difference? Do you have any favorite organic, animal by-product-free, or halal-certified brands?