When it comes to identifying dietary restrictions, Peirce identifies which foods are vegetarian or vegan, and what possible allergens are in certain foods. Peirce does not, however, identify which foods are kosher or halal.
There are at least two ways to alleviate this issue. Peirce can make new labels and symbols for which foods are halal and kosher, just as it has done for the aforementioned dietary restrictions. The alternative solution would be setting up a new station where students can receive specifically halal and/or kosher food. Doing either — or better yet, both — would help to end the consistent game of “Can I eat this?” that can define the eating experiences of many students.
Kosher law, also called kashrut, maintains that meat from mammals has to be from animals that chew their cud and have cloven hooves — hence, no pork. Shellfish are also prohibited. Meat and dairy are prepared and stored separately, with some Jewish households going so far as to have separate stoves and cutlery.
Halal roughly translates to “permissible” or “lawful” in English, and is the term for foods and products Muslims can use. Islamic dietary restrictions say that animals meant for consumption have to be ritually slaughtered after someone recites the Bismillah, and that food and products of any kind must not have ingredients that are haram, or “unlawful,” such as alcohol and pork.
What makes the creation of kosher/halal labels or stations at Peirce more feasible are their similarities. Both require ritual slaughter intended to be more humane and painless, forbid pork and prohibit the consumption of blood in animal products. In Islam, ritual slaughter does not have to be done by a Muslim — instead, a Muslim, Christian or Jew can slaughter and harvest meat in order for it to be deemed halal.
But why is it important to have these labels and options? Even though the United States is home to one of the world’s largest Jewish communities, kosher foods and products are rarely available outside of kosher restaurants. Some popular foods and products are officially kosher, but most are not. In Peirce, there is no way of knowing which foods are kosher, and which foods are not. The United States is also home to a wonderful and sizable Muslim community, yet halal foods are more difficult to find than kosher foods. Complicating this further is the rise of Islamophobia, which has dissuaded companies or restaurants or producers from labeling things halal.
Peirce should not disregard halal and kosher dietary restrictions. In the past, Peirce has served kosher dishes during Passover, so establishing a new station that follows these guidelines is not too far-fetched.
Dining is one of the most fundamental aspects of life. Making it more inclusive for our peers who observe halal and kosher rules is a mission that we should all embrace.
Noah Gerhardt ’25 is an undeclared major from Chapel Hill, N.C. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.