There’s been quite a bit of talk about halal meat being served by popular fast food chains of late. Quite a few people have tried to frame this as a racist attack on Muslims (conflating as ever a religion with a race, or are Saudi Muslims, Pakistani Muslims and all other Muslims all the same race?). Other people have taken the view that it really doesn’t matter as long as the welfare of the animals are the same, and apparently some of the food vendors do tell you that they use halal meat if you go to their website and look for such information.
I’d like to suggest an alternative view, serving halal meat is of course a matter entirely for the businesses concerned if it makes good business sense then obviously it’s something they’d should do. However I would say that they do need to improve their labeling, especially the various schools that reportedly only use halal meat, and for one simple reason – consideration to peoples religious beliefs. I’d assume that the move to serve halal meat was to cater to the needs of Muslim customers, however if one is concerned about your customers religion then clear labeling is vital as people follow other religions such as Sikhs are prohibited from eating halal food, and I can well imagine that adherents of other religions may not be so keen on eating meat offered to a different god. So serving Halal food without labeling it is hardly being culturally sensitive, unless the only culture you’re concerned about is Islam. In this case as well dismissing those other religions as superstitious beliefs (a common argument against making allowances for any religion) won’t work as the problem is making allowance for one religion over and above others.
So as is so often the case, if it makes business sense to use halal meat then do so, but advertise it as such so that those that have objections to eating such meat know that you don’t want their custom and so that your potential customers can make an informed choice without being expected to track down the information hidden away on corporate web sites. After all if it is a sound business decision there can surely be no reason to not clearly advertise it?