Kosher and halal lifestyles often get lumped together. But while they do have some similarities, they’re very different diets.

Here’s the 411 on all things kosher and halal.

KosherHalal
What is it?a set of food preparation and consumption guidelines established under Jewish dietary lawanything allowed under Islamic law (This doesn’t just cover food rules — it pertains to all aspects of life.)
Rootsthe Torahthe Quran
Etymology“Kosher” comes from the Hebrew word “Kashrut,” which means “fit” or “proper.”“Halal” means “allowed” or “lawful” in Arabic.
Guidelinesfollows Jewish dietary lawfollows Islamic dietary law
Animal slaughter guidelinessingle, deep cut to throat; blood must be completely drainedwhat kosher said: single, deep cut to throat; blood must be completely drained
Butcherhas to be a Jew who understands Jewish lawhas to be Muslim
Prayerdoesn’t require prayer before slaughterrequires prayer to Allah before every slaughter
Fruits and veggiesfine if there are no bugstotes OK
Meat and dairycan’t be eaten togetherfine to mix
Boozeallowed if the ingredients are koshernope!
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Juan Moyano/Stocksy

Kosher and halal lifestyles are rooted in religious traditions that go back thousands of years. Both regulate what foods to eat along with how meat should be killed and prepped.

Kosher

Kosher is a way of eating that follows Jewish dietary law. The word itself comes from the Hebrew word “Kashrut,” meaning “proper” or “fit.”

Halal

“Halal” means “permissible” or “lawful” in Arabic. Halal food follows the Islamic dietary law as described by the Quran. Foods that aren’t halal are haram (meaning “prohibited” or “unlawful”).

Kosher

To be kosher, a mammal has to have split hooves and chew its cud (semi-digested food that’s regurgitated and chewed a second time).

Kosher mammals:

  • cows
  • sheep
  • goats
  • deer

Other approved animals:

  • domestic birds (e.g., chickens, geese, ducks, turkeys, and pigeons)
  • scaly fish with fins (like tuna, pike, carp, flounder, or salmon)

Halal

Only certain types of meat are halal. It’s OK to eat:

  • domestic birds (e.g., chickens, turkeys, and ducks)
  • all types of buck (sorry, Bambi)
  • all types of cattle
  • locusts
  • rabbits
  • camels
  • sheep
  • goats
  • fish

FYI: Mixing meat and dairy is allowed 🥛🥩.

Each diet has a list of off-limits meats.

Kosher

Eating any of these animals (or their byproducts) isn’t kosher:

  • predatory or scavenger birds
  • shellfish 🦐 🦞
  • squirrels
  • rabbits
  • camels
  • horses
  • bears
  • pigs
  • dogs
  • cats

Halal

Haram (nonapproved) meats include:

  • carnivorous animals (e.g., bears, dogs, cats, etc.)
  • predatory or scavenger birds
  • bugs (excluding locusts)
  • pests (like rats and mice)
  • amphibians 🐸
  • donkeys
  • reptiles
  • mules
  • pigs

Certain parts of a halal animal are also a no-go, including the animal’s:

  • pancreas
  • gall bladder
  • flowing blood
  • reproductive organs (like testicles)

Side note: According to kosher and halal rules, you can’t eat an animal if it died of natural causes. (Bummer… we were really craving roadkill cuisine.)

The way an animal is butchered is uber-important in kosher and halal households.

Kosher

For meat to be 100 percent kosher, it needs to be slaughtered and cleaned under this set of rules:

  • The slaughterer (aka shochet) has to be a Jew with an understanding of Jewish laws.
  • The kill must be quick, using a single deep cut across the throat.
  • The animal’s lungs must be looked at to make sure there aren’t any defects.
  • All the blood must be drained before the animal can be eaten.

Halal

For meat to be considered halal, it has to be slaughtered and cleaned within these guidelines:

  • The butcher must be Muslim.
  • The animal must be prayed over before it’s killed.
  • The blade has to be super sharp to minimize the animal’s pain.
  • The animal’s throat must be sliced clean from one side to the other — the knife can’t be lifted until the cut is complete.
  • The esophagus, trachea, and both jugular veins have to be severed.
  • All the blood must be drained before the animal can be eaten.

The packaging of kosher and halal foods is labeled to let you know the foods have met all the necessary requirements. There are various certification agencies that give kosher or halal products the stamp of approval.

In the United States, the largest halal certification agency is the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA).

Kosher foods are certified by lots of different agencies across the country. The main five are Star-K, OK, OU, KOF-K, and CRC.

It isn’t just about meat. Kosher and halal diets also offer guidelines for other types of food and how they should be prepared.

Kosher

Since meat and dairy can’t be eaten at the same time, you need to invest in two separate sets of utensils. That way there’s no chance of cross contamination. Some Jewish households also have two separate kitchens, one for meat and one for dairy.

Fruits and veggies are cool for kosher folks as long as the produce doesn’t contain any bugs.

PSA: Grape products have to be made by observant Jews. Otherwise, they’re not kosher 🍇 🍷.

Halal

Islamic dietary law states that dairy, yogurt, and cheese should be produced from halal-certified animals only.

You also have to ditch products that contain:

  • L-cysteine (animal hair)
  • rennet (stomach enzyme)
  • calcium phosphates (bone)
  • gelatin (connective tissue)

Halal folks also avoid alcohol and other intoxicants (sorry, fam — this includes weed).

Both kosher and halal can be hella healthy lifestyles. Just make sure you maintain a balanced diet full of vitamins, proteins, and other key nutrients.

There’s little to no research that proves a kosher or halal diet is better for you than a nonreligious diet — but these styles of eating do have a few perks.

Kosher

One of the best benefits of keeping kosher is that you know exactly how your meat has been processed, which might ensure better quality. In fact, lots of non-Jewish folks opt for kosher meat because of the way the animals are killed and processed.

It’s also nice knowing there aren’t any unwelcome worms in your morning apple, since kosher produce is inspected for insects 🐛 .

Halal

As with a kosher diet, sticking to halal means you know where your meat comes from. Some folks claim that animals suffer less under halal slaughter guidelines, but there’s little proof of this.

Also, an alcohol-free lifestyle might be better for you in the long run. But more research is needed to find out whether occasional or moderate drinking leads to major health issues as compared to no drinking at all.