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If you allow me I will offer a slightly different perspective. Personally when I travel my practice is always that I restrict myself to eating either halal food or vegetarian. I know for certain that halal food is much healthier than most other foods. Of course it is always wise to stick to a vegetarian diet when in doubt about the source of the meat! In my view Halal food is not about religion/ spirituality but it is about health in as much as Judaism has similar rules on food. It just happens that Islam and Judaism embraced these health practices into their lifestyle. I commend Islam for coming up with these guidelines we call today halal. It ensures that animals are slaughtered humanely and only healthy food is consumed. This contributes to a healthier world. I would suggest that we should partake of halal food with a clear conscience. Unless I am mistaken Allah is Arabic for God. I certainly would not consider halal meat as sacrificed to idols. Rom 14:23 in my view therefore does not apply. You need to attend the ancestral worship ceremony in Africa to truly understand what it means to sacrifice an animal to idols. Of course when I visit my village people around me expect me to abstain from such meat but I eat heartily proclaiming Rom 14:23! Halal I must state here, forbids people from eating certain things almost akin to the Old Testament instructions in Leviticus. Whilst Leviticus 11 takes on the garb of religious “laws”, if you put on different glasses you will notice that these were “laws” designed to inculcate a healthy lifestyle in the same way as instructing the people of Israel to always wash their hands before eating. Eating blood is unhealthy period; ensuring that an animal bleeds well and is drained of all blood is a good starting point. But of course we all know that it is impossible to completely drain all the blood from a slaughtered animal. In fact it is the blood that gives taste to the meat! Leviticus further forbids eating of animal fat in Lev 3:16. God instructs Israel not to eat the fat but to burn it on the altar; the rest of the meat could then be eaten. Science today tells us that eating blood and fat is unhealthy. It leads to all manner of lifestyle diseases that we see today. The whole point is that perhaps all these food guidelines that God put in place in the Old Testament had more to do with our health than than whether we go to heaven or not. God does not want us suffering from these cancers and strokes etc. The chance of these diseases can be reduced through a healthy diet. In the modern era we think that these regulations that God put in place are outdated and we know better as Christians. We believe that as long as we pray before we eat and ask God to bless the food it suddenly becomes good for us. This in my view is not different from mocking God or taking the same side as satan when he tempted Jesus and said throw yourself down. It is a violation of these instructions from God that have cursed our current generation with high blood pressure, gout, heart disease and all types of cancer. The medical fraternity confirms that the leading cause of prostate cancer and heart disease is consumption of animal fat. Whether food is halal or not we need to know that what we eat affects us. Our health depends very much on what and how much we eat. Eating halal food is a good starting point and I would suggest that we eat it halal food with a very clear conscience.
My response will be simple. It's not what goes into your mouth that defiles the body, it is what comes out of it that defiles the body. Mk 7:14-23
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