I am a Muslim Chaplain at an Arizona prison facility. The jail administration wants me to inform inmates, that vegetarian meal complies with the Quranic halal dietary requirement.

My position is that a vegetarian meal is permissible because of their incarcerated circumstances. Vegetarian is not halal. Most vegetable inherently contains alcohol. Another concern is how it is being processed in the kitchen.

  • Are your concerns about alcohol and processing based on actually observing this happen with the meals in question, or just speculation?
    – goldPseudo
    Aug 16, 2015 at 20:47
  • 1
    "Most vegetable inherently contains alcohol." what do you mean by that? Are you of the opinion that all vegetables are haram?
    – Daniel
    Aug 16, 2015 at 21:02

2 Answers 2


According to my knowledge, following a vegetarian lifestyle to avoid eating non-halal food is recommended. But if you are trying to organize meat for the inmates then maybe you could ask a scholar to sit down with you and postulate an exception on why following a permanent vegetarian diet is not permissible for a Muslim in incarceration.

Vegetarian diets have to be put together carefully to avoid malnutrition in certain minerals and proteins. I am sure the prison will lack such an attention to detail and just pick the cheapest set of meals out of a cookbook. This is a strong motivator to organize meat, if circumstances permit.

Male inmates need to additionally build up muscle mass after a while in prison to undermine their presence as it is expected from them in prison culture. You can not do this with cheap carbs and plant-based proteins. Maybe that can go into a scholarly statement so that is tenable by fegh'h.

Also, if the fish is killed in a halal way, then the inmates can practice 'Pescetarianism'. Maybe one could convince them to serve fish as the Islamic meat option if it is easier for them to organize.

Edit: the common malnutritions are vitamin B12 and D, iron and sometimes calcium. About 90% of vegetarians develop this. Though it is easy to relieve this by taking supplements. If sports are concerned though, one will likely miss half of the needed protein varieties for a reasonable post-activity meal.


Vegetarian is not halal. Most vegetable inherently contains alcohol.

Vegetables don't contain Alcohol, if it does it makes it haram.

Another concern is how it is being processed in the kitchen.

If it is processed in the same pots that Haram things are processed in without washing them beforehand it makes them Haram.

As a Muslim Chaplain your job is to assist the Muslim inmates. Imagine if these guys were Jews, I am pretty sure they will have Kosher options.

Tell your Warden he will save more money in the long run of making true Halal options (which should include meat) instead of getting sued by the ACLU, CAIR or other Human right organizations. It is their right to be provided food according to their religion just like any other.

Here is a link that might help you: http://insidebooksproject.org/resource-guide/

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