Three Islamic principles that helped me become a better vegan

veganI’ve talked at length about my choice to go vegan. I’m not going to lie- it IS hard. I’m also gluten free, which makes it harder. Most gluten free packaged products are made with egg or dairy, and for awhile, I was erroneously told to abstain from all oats due to a speculated separate condition.

What’s hard about going vegan, apart from the literal detox you must endure to get the casomorphine out of your system, is that it feels like you’re the only one awake in a planet full of dreaming people. In this article, the author points out,

“Particularly in the early part of being an ethical vegan, when people become aware of the absolute absurdity, superiority and abuse at such a level, and then look around and see that people are all smiling and drinking a cup of coffee and they can’t see it, it’s almost like an existential crisis. It’s like, ‘Oh my god, I’m living in hell and no one else can see it.’ Then there’s that high state of alert and arousal and people wondering how they’re able to describe what they know and how they feel without seeming mad, or without people saying, ‘Oh, don’t be silly!’”

Its hard on the psyche and the soul.

Although by most I do not qualify as a practicing Muslim, it is my background as a Muslim that actually helped me to become a better vegan. Here are the principals that guided me on my journey:

supervegan1.Don’t go hard or go home- The Qur’an says, “And those who disbelieve say: Why is not the Quran revealed to him all at once? Thus (it is sent down in parts), that We may strengthen your heart thereby. And We have revealed it to you gradually, in stages.” [25:32].

This means that there is a REASON we gained knowledge in parts. Check out this hadith from Bukhari vol.6 book 61 verse 515:

Narrated Yusuf bin Mahk:

While I was with Aisha, the mother of the Believers, a person from Iraq came and asked, “What type of shroud is the best?” ‘Aisha said, “May Allah be merciful to you! What does it matter?” He said, “O mother of the Believers! Show me (the copy of) your Qur’an,” She said, “Why?” He said, “In order to compile and arrange the Qur’an according to it, for people recite it with its Suras not in proper order.” ‘Aisha said, “What does it matter which part of it you read first? (Be informed) that the first thing that was revealed thereof was a Sura from Al-Mufassal, and in it was mentioned Paradise and the Fire. When the people embraced Islam, the Verses regarding legal and illegal things were revealed. If the first thing to be revealed was: ‘Do not drink alcoholic drinks.’ people would have said, ‘We will never leave alcoholic drinks,’ and if there had been revealed, ‘Do not commit illegal sexual intercourse, ‘they would have said, ‘We will never give up illegal sexual intercourse.’ While I was a young girl of playing age, the following Verse was revealed in Mecca to Muhammad: ‘Nay! But the Hour is their appointed time (for their full recompense), and the Hour will be more grievous and more bitter.’ (54.46) Sura Al-Baqara (The Cow) and Surat An-Nisa (The Women) were revealed while I was with him.” Then ‘Aisha took out the copy of the Qur’an for the man and dictated to him the Verses of the Suras (in their proper order) .

How does this translate to veganism? Well, when you become vegan, the rules are “but don’t eat meat, milk, or eggs.” Easy enough, right? But then it becomes, “don’t eat honey, buy fur, or buy wool or down.” So you replace your winter clothes and then you realize you cannot eat most sugar or things with sugar. And then you realize that your shampoo and makeup might not be vegan. The next thing you know, half of the stuff in your life is made from some sort of animal corpse- including PLASTIC SHOPPING BAGS, and you’re going crazy trying to get it out of your life and your airspace.  Which brings me to my next point…

babies

2. Don’t make haram that which is halal: This means, don’t make illegal that which is legal. For me, this is the palm oil issue. In the Qur’an, verse 5:87 it states ” Believers! Do not hold as unlawful the good things which Allah has made lawful to you, and do not exceed the bounds of right. Allah does not love those who transgress the bounds of right.”

Palm products are vegan. Palm is a plant. But the problem with palm is the industrial practice of burning down habitats that are wiping out many species, especially orangutans. If you can, you should avoid palm products. But if you find it challenging, it is better to avoid meat, milk, and egg products and focus on those areas, because animals are directly murdered for their production and they have direct negative effects on your health. I liked this article on palm and moving towards solutions to replace the cruelty of the industry.

mac3. And finally, “If you’re going to do something, do it well.”: In Sahih Muslim, hadith #17, it’s narrated (on perfection)

On the authority of Abu Ya’la Shaddad bin Aws (may Allah be pleased with him), that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

Verily Allah has prescribed ihsan (proficiency, perfection) in all things. So if you kill then kill well; and if you slaughter, then slaughter well. Let each one of you sharpen his blade and let him spare suffering to the animal he slaughters.
Try to ignore the killing reference and focus on the message. As trivial as it sounds, if your mac and cheese is gross, continue to find something better. Because if your mac and cheese sucks and you can’t navigate social situations, and you can’t find vegan shampoo, you’re likely to FAIL. You will feel like your life is terrible and you’ll want to go back to the way you were living. Find out your breaking points. My breaking points were eggs and sandwiches. My solution was Happy Herbivore deviled egg potatoes and a sandwich called a California (sun dried tomatoes, avocado, and balsamic on toast).
There are many principles of Islam that help me in my daily living as a vegan, but these were the ones that resonated most in my times of difficulty. I hope this post has enlightened some misconceptions about Islam while helping others reach their vegan goals.
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2 thoughts on “Three Islamic principles that helped me become a better vegan

  1. Nice post. I am not a vegan and probably never will be, but I admire people who are willing to make sacrifices for their beliefs even if they make different choices than I would. I do eat a lot less animal than I used to, but my focus is more on avoiding waste–and I’m startled at how some of the vegans I know use huge amounts of plastic products, both disposable and durable. I wonder if they know about the use of animal fat in plastic bags? That’s something I just learned from your article! It would be great if you put in a link to a reliable source that explains thoroughly–but in a brief search, I found several articles that convinced me that this is true. Do you know if the disposable diapers you are using contain any animal products? It would be an issue with cloth diapers, too, as both involve plastic somewhere unless you use wool which is obviously an animal product. Sigh!

  2. I just found you ! In every single word of this blog I found myself. Where do you live. I would love to meet with you 🙂
    Thanks !

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