Halal and Kosher are terms often heard in the context of meat and dairy, and although it's common knowledge that the terms refer to guidelines on what can be consumed and what cannot, few know what either really means, let alone how they differ. "Is this kosher?" has become a common expression that has transcended the context of religion and food to the point that it simply means "Is this acceptable?" in a colloquial sense.

Halal and Kosher refer to what's permitted by Islamic and Jewish religious laws respectively. Halal is an Islamic term that means lawful or permitted. Although halal in a broad sense can refer to anything that's permitted by Islam, it's most often used in the context of permissible dietary habits, specifically when it comes to meat consumption. Kosher is a similar term used to describe food that is proper or fit for consumption according to Kashrut, the Jewish dietary law. This comparison will restrict itself to the context of religious dietary laws.

Comparison chart

Halal versus Kosher comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartHalalKosher
Introduction Ḥalal is anything that is permissible according to Islamic law. The term covers and designates not only food and drink as permissible according to Islamic law, but also all matters of daily life. Kosher foods are those that conform to the regulations of kashrut, the Jewish dietary law.
Guidelines Follows Islamic dietary law Follows Jewish dietary law
Etymology “Halal” in Arabic means permissible or lawful. Derived from the Hebrew word “Kashrut,” which means proper or fit.
Roots Quran Torah
How to Slaughter Quick and swift at single point on the throat; blood has to be completely drained. Quick and swift at single point on the throat; blood has to be completely drained.
Slaughterer Animal must be slaughtered by a Muslim. Animal must be slaughtered by a Jew
Prayer Requires prayer to Allah before every slaughter. Does not require prayer before slaughter.
Fruit & Vegetables Considered Halal Considered Kosher only if there are no bugs in them.
Meat & Dairy Can be consumed together Cannot be consumed together
Alcohol Prohibited Allowed. Religious leaders encourage moderation. For wine to be considered kosher, the entire wine-making process must be supervised or handled by Sabbath-observant Jews. Also, all ingredients must be kosher.


“Halal” is an Arabic word meaning lawful or permissible. Halal food is food permitted for consumption according to the Islamic dietary law as dictated by the Quran. Foods that is not permissible is called haram meaning unlawful or prohibited.

The word” Kosher”, meaning proper or fit, originates from the Hebrew word “Kashrut”. Food that conforms to the Kashrut, the Jewish Dietary law is said to be kosher and fine for consumption. Kosher laws are derived from the Torah.

These dietary laws don't just restrict themselves to a the specifics of a type of food, but also include how the food is prepared for consumption, and what other food can or cannot be eaten in combination with it.

Meat Guidelines

Permissible Meat

According to Islamic law only certain types of meat are considered to be clean for consumption:

All animals other than fish and locust are considered halal only when they are slaughtered according to certain guidelines.

Which foods are kosher?

Kosher law disallows eating some animals; and for those that may be eaten, there are rules for how to slaughter and which part of the animal may be eaten. The following are permitted:

Forbidden Meat

Islamic law prohibits certain animals and meat products to be haram or unlawful:

The following animals and meat products are not considered kosher according to Jewish Dietary law:

Slaughter Guidelines

Meat is considered to be halal if it is clean, lawful and slaughtered with certain guidelines:

For meat to be kosher, the animal is slaughtered following certain guidelines:

Kosher and Halal Certification

Halal certification agencies like the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America ensure that halal certified food is widely available in the United States.

Kosher certified food is widely available with certifications conducted by various agencies spread across the United States.

A collection of halal (left) and kosher (right) certification symbols.
A collection of halal (left) and kosher (right) certification symbols.

Other Food

According to Islamic law, intoxicating plants, food additives derived from prohibited food, alcohol, and other intoxicants are not halal.

Fruits and vegetables are kosher according to Jewish law as long as they have no bugs. Grape products made by non-Jews are not kosher.

Further religious guidelines for food consumption

According to Islamic dietary law, dairy, yogurt and cheese should be produced from halal certified animals. Gelatin in yogurt and rennet in cheese should also be halal.

Jewish dietary laws state not only meat and dairy cannot be consumed together but they also need to be cooked in separate utensils. There cannot be a common set of utensils to cook meat and dairy.

This video takes you through what it takes to prepare a kosher meal:


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