Saturday, March 5, 2011

Plan for Halal food a step forward

Washington University Dining Services is currently planning to implement a Halal foods program. If implemented, Halal options will first be offered in the Village and Bear’s Den, with plans to expand the options across campus later.
The University’s introduction of Halal foods should be seen as a major step forward in providing dining options for those on a restricted diet of any kind, whether for religious, cultural or health reasons. Wash. U. currently offers vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and kosher offerings, among others, and in this respect it is a commendable food service provider for those with special dietary needs. Between 70 and 100 people have requested halal foods, and this population cannot go unnoticed. With so many options available for kosher dining, we believe that introducing Halal options on-campus is long overdue.
It is understandable that the University has not offered Halal foods up until now. The group of people who currently benefit from kosher foods is few in number, and there are additional costs associated with implementing Halal Foods, just as there are with kosher foods. Specifically, Dining Services would have to find a new, Halal-certified source of meat, which could be costly. Still, Dining Services does not anticipate a major increase in cost, and while the number of students that would benefit from Halal Foods is small, the University is acting properly in accommodating their needs.
On a progressive campus such as that of Wash. U., it is important that we extend our notions of tolerance and acceptance to all aspects of one’s lifestyle. For example, to be a vegetarian is not just to avoid eating meat, but to embrace a conscious lifestyle that takes into account ethical questions and demands. While we may not all agree with vegetarianism, we still support the right to be vegetarian for those who choose to do so, and the University provides them with dining options to facilitate these choices.
More often than not, however, we forget that religious restrictions on dining constitute just as much of a conscious lifestyle, and observing religious customs on dining is part of a larger way of living and thinking. As students, we should respect the decisions of others to engage in any kind of decision involving food, and part of this respect involves ensuring that such options are available for those who choose to observe Halal regulations.
Ultimately, the University and Bon App├ętit should be praised for the expected new Halal options. Accommodating the needs of observant Muslim students only increases our level of awareness of differing lifestyles on campus, and while the number of people requesting Halal is comparatively small, the University ought to do so on principle alone. After all, Wash. U. prides itself on being a welcoming community.

Courtesy By: Student Life

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