A condiment that has been around for tens of thousands of years is vinegar. We use wine vinegar in cooking, for salads, for toasts, and many different processes. However, if you are a Muslim, you might be concerned about whether it is okay to consume wine vinegar since it is basically alcohol.
First of all, how do we know what is halal? Halal simply means something that is permissible in the Muslim culture and religion. The opposite term of halal is haram - which indicates something that is forbidden.
In today’s culture where foods and beverages are constantly being modified, it is often hard to tell whether something is halal. It can come down to the simplest of things, such as cereal. This is why it is good to consult various sources and ensure you are making the right choices.
How is it produced?
Wine vinegar is probably the most popular type of vinegar, and it is made either from white or red wine. Now, the most important part of answering the question of whether it is halal or not is looking into how it is made.
Did you know that a bottle of wine can naturally turn into vinegar? If you leave a bottle of wine open for a specific amount of time, the fermentation process begins naturally. If we get a bit sciencey, this means that the alcohol starts turning into acetic acid, which is the main constituent of vinegar.
What commercial manufacturers do is yield quality vinegar by treating it and processing it “artificially”. This is done by adding catalysts, starter cultures, and similar things.
Islam and wine vinegar
In which instances is it then okay to consume wine vinegar and when is it forbidden? According to many Islamic schools of thought, it is not permitted to intentionally change wine into vinegar. Some of them indicate that it is permitted to consume if the wine has turned into vinegar by itself, without any human intervention.
This brings us to the conclusion that commercial wine vinegar products are not halal. However, remember that this is in cases when it has been manipulated on purpose. This is the belief of the Shafi’i scholars.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, we have Hanafi scholars. They believe that the Prophet blessed turning wine into vinegar, whether it was done naturally or by intervening in the process.
Both schools are based on the scriptures and the Holy Book of Islam, the Qur’an. It all comes down to looking into the ingredients of various products and educating yourself about the beliefs you are following.
It can be tricky, especially when you are following specific diet plans and are restricted in that sense as well. For example, you might need to be taking some supplements that your doctor prescribed. In this case, it is best to pick multivitamin supplements whose brands have highlighted the transparency of their ingredients.
Halal and other beliefs
Something else that might be interesting is the fact that halal is not only accepted and respected in Islam. Of course, the term originates and has its full meaning thanks to this widespread religion, but many modern lifestyles and philosophies agree with it.
This might be especially interesting for vegans since halal focuses on practices of clean and healthy eating. It can be linked with the respect for other plants and animals we are sharing life with on this planet. Vegans are also always going through the ingredients list of any product they are consuming, even if it is as simple as eating gummies. It is making a conscious choice about what goes into our bodies, paying them respect in this type of treatment.
Other types of vinegar
Let’s briefly take a look at some rules considering other types of vinegar. Now, it is halal to eat most of them except for two that are by most teachings forbidden - wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar. These are considered haram. Vinegar could be made from any food which contains natural sugars.
White vinegar is one of those that are considered halal and certified by the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America. It is produced by laboratory-made acid or by turning ethanol into vinegar.
Balsamic vinegar is haram since it is basically just an aged vinegar that contains wine.
Many people who follow today’s healthy eating trends will be happy that apple cider vinegar is halal! It is completely safe and made from apple cider. Along with this one, malt and corn vinegar are also allowed in Islam.
Most people are familiar with the different rules in Islam when it comes to food and beverages. However, many do not know the difference between halal and haram, and this is a huge question for any eating behaviors for Muslims. Halal simply means something is permissible to consume, and haram that it is forbidden.
What determines if something is okay to consume or not, are the ingredients and process of making the product.
Wine vinegar can be made naturally if you simply leave a bottle of wine open for a certain amount of time, or it can be humanly manipulated. Many Muslim scholars believe that if there has been human intervention in the production process, vinegar is haram. Otherwise, it is safe to consume. On the other side, we have scholars who believe both processes make vinegar halal.
Whether you are religious or not, it is always a healthier option to make sure you check the ingredients list of any products you are consuming.