I'll Have the Muslim Meal, Thanks

American Airlines encourages passengers to pre-book their meals online:


(Photo: chinaoffseason)

(Photo: chinaoffseason)

Why “kosher,” I wonder, but “Muslim” rather than “halal”? Should the “kosher” meal be “Jewish” instead? American, it turns out, is hardly the only airline to use this terminology. Don’t know why, but unparallel nomenclature always gets my attention …


Also, aren't there varieties of kosher? different certifying groups? There's also varieties of Hindu diet as well as I recall though I'm sure I don't know the proper terminology for it. As I understand, Some very strict Hindu diets go beyond being vegan/vegetarian and further prohibit vegetables from root plants such as onions and potatoes.


That's Jain. Not Hindus. But you are right about their diet restrictions. :) Not sure how these airlines mess this basic up

Danish Aziz

Maybe because 'halal' as a word hasn't entered the English dictionary, and Kosher and Muslim have. Lots of people even in India still look bewildered if you ask them for 'halal' food. No surprise though.


>> Lots of people even in India still look bewildered if you ask them for ‘halal’ food

India is less than 15% muslim.


What's the percentage for the United States?


As a Muslim, I would always wonder if the Muslim meal serves was the same as the Kosher meal. Although I understand that any Halal meal may not be Kosher, all Kosher meals are by default Halal. All Kosher meat is slaughtered in an Islamically appropriate way, and the food would not have any pork products, including gelatin.


"[A]ll Kosher meals are by default Halal" - I'm not sure this is true, as alcohol is kosher but I don't believe it is halal.


Part of my responsibility at work is booking people's flights. I have wondered the exact same thing!


I haven't been on a flight that offered meals in a while. However, amongst all these choices, I'd choose Muslim for the hell of it. I know it's not going to be Persian jeweled rice, but I imagine it'd be delicious.


The deliciousness factor really depends on the airline. I always request the muslim/halal meal and on most airlines, it's usually some form of 'ethnic' food which is fantastic compared to the usual bleh stuff.

One time though on a trip to London on Air Canada, while my non-muslim boyfriend was digging into a cheesy, meaty warm breakfast, I was presented with a cold pumpkin bagel that was labelled Muslim meal/Kosher Meal/Low fat meal/Vegan/Vegetarian/Low Sodium meal (or something along those lines). As you can imagine, it was cold, hard pumpkin flavoured cardboard.

As a Muslim, the nomenclature does bother me a little bit every time I make a request to the airline. However the incorrect terminology is nothing compared to harassment or threats of violence that some experience.


Wouldn't it make things so much simpler (and probably cheaper, too), if the airlines just told everyone to bring a sack lunch?

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That's a bit complicated for intercontinental flights, especially with restrictions on taking in "liquids" and "gels" (categories that include peanut butter and applesauce).


I'm surprised we still allow Kosher and Halal methods of slaughter (well we don't if they aren't halal or kosher) it's far too cruel.


As an aside, booking any sort of special meal reduces your chances of an involuntary upgrade, as it's quite difficult to get the meals to the person if you swap cabins. Sort of understandable, but I'm sure is a form of indirect discrimination. Probably lawful though, because you get what you pay for.


This is incorrect; I have had many times the coach meal served to me when I was upgraded within the 24 hr period. They simply plate it nicely and many times apologize for how simple it looks.


I find it interesting that everyone seems to think its the "Muslim" that stands out, while it perfectly fits. All words here describe the customer eating the food not the food itself: You can be diabetic, gluten intolerant, a vegetarian, or indeed Muslim. But you can hardly be kosher, right? (Granted: food can be vegetarian)
So they actually should have written Jewish instead of kosher, not halal instead of Muslim.


Except that in the English language, "Jewish" can be an ethnicity or a culture, as well as a religion. (Self-described Jewish atheists are by no means rare, e.g. http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/religion/story/2011-09-26/jew-atheist-god/50553958/1 ) So a non-observant ethnic Jew might well have no problems with non-kosher meals.

Unfortunately (IMHO) the same sloppy nomenclature is working its way into the language WRT Islam, so that anyone from the Middle East tends to be referred to as a Muslim, even though they may well not follow the religion or its dietary strictures.

Edie Capellan

Why am I, a dark complexioned woman born in the U.S., African-American and a light complexion woman born in the U.S. with an Italian last name, Italian-American? She should be European- American, no?