While driving around Houston, you've probably noticed signs for Halal meat markets or Halal delis. You've probably read labels touting that a certain meat is halal or skimmed over articles noting a trend toward more and more people purchasing and consuming halal meat. Unless you're Muslim, though, you probably don't understand all that must be done for food to be called halal.
In Arabic, the word "halal" means permissible. Halal meat is meat that has been slaughtered according to Islamic law, as laid out in the Qu'ran. This particular type of slaughter is called dhabiha, it it requires that an animal's throat be slit swiftly with a sharp blade to ensure as little pain and suffering as possible. While this is being done, the person with the blade says a prayer to Allah, or at the very least invokes the name of Allah to bless the animal and give thanks for the food.
It's a very specific method of killing animals for food--one that also involves draining all the blood and ensuring that no live animals ever see another animal slaughtered. Zain Mohammed, a chemical engineering student at the University of Houston, has made it his mission to demystify halal food for Muslims and non-Muslims alike, and in doing so, spread awareness about the health benefits of this unique practice.