CAIRO - Halal meat outlets are growing at a rapid pace in Canada's Nova Scotia province, where they compete to cater to a large, diverse Muslim community and therefore earn a niche market, even among non-Muslims.
We became frustrated with the quality of halal meat available here, Khalil Alshanti, co-owner of Taiba Halal Grocery, told The Chronicle Herald on Thursday, February 2.
We opened up the grocery store as a service to the Muslim community and over time we've also served some non-Muslims, too.
Taiba Halal Grocery is one of the shops that opened three years ago in Hilafax in Nova Scotia to offer beef, goat, lamb and chicken slaughtered according to Islamic religion.
Run by Muslims for Muslims, it caters to a growing Muslim community in the province.
Alshanti and his business partner, Ahmad Alhamoui, buy the meat for their grocery store at farms in Upper Rawdon and Bridgewater.
We go down there and slaughter the animals, he said.
The main thing is you don't want the animal to experience any shock or trauma before it's killed.
The animal shouldn't see blade before it's slaughtered with the single swipe of a blade.
The concept of halal, -- meaning permissible in Arabic -- has traditionally been applied to food.
Muslims should only eat meat from livestock slaughtered by a sharp knife from their necks, and the name of Allah, the Arabic word for God, must be mentioned.
Muslims in Nova Scotia are now estimated to be close to 20,000, following increase in the number of university students hailing from the Middle East.
Muslims make around 1.9 percent of Canada's 32.8 million population, and Islam is the number one non-Christian faith in the Roman Catholic country.
With Nova Scotia's growing Muslim community, halal food competition has grown over time.
My family only eats halal meat and we knew a lot of Muslims in Cape Breton would like a restaurant that served halal meat, said Ray Kassem, whose family owns and operates a new Lebanese restaurant in Sydney area.
We've also had a lot of support from the local non-Muslim community who really love the food, too.
Currently, different halal meat groceries compete in the capital region.
Those groceries include Bailey's Meat Market in Bedford, House of Halal Groceries in Halifax and Mid-East Food Centre & Cafe in the north-end Halifax.
The growing halal business flourished the market even for non-Muslim breeders.
Mike Oulton had never heard of halal meat when he started farming in Martock many years ago.
But now it's an integral part of his farming operation and the Mike Oulton Meat Shop.
Long-time employee Terry Patterson said serving the ethnic community is a very strong part of the business and continues to grow each year.
There is a Muslim who comes by every Tuesday and blesses the animals and slaughters them, he said.
We have a number of Muslims that come here to pick up the meat and we also do deliveries to homes, restaurants and stores.