Muslim-Montrealers band together to find halal eats in the city

·2 min read
Ayesha Ali and her husband, Ali Mazhar, founded an online group where they could share halal food spots in Montreal. (Submitted by Ayesha Ali - image credit)
Ayesha Ali and her husband, Ali Mazhar, founded an online group where they could share halal food spots in Montreal. (Submitted by Ayesha Ali - image credit)

Back in Calgary, Ayesha Ali never had to work to find halal food in the city.

But after she and her husband moved to the Montreal area this past summer, she quickly realized it was a lot harder to find a restaurant where they could eat out.

"There was no such platform here where we could get to know what places offer halal food," she said.

That pushed Ali to try to find the answers herself. She started a Facebook group, Montreal Halal Eats, so Muslims could swap tips about where they found halal food in the greater Montreal area.

The idea is that if there was no formal guide to halal eating in the city, then at least Ali could rely on word of mouth.

"I wrote on the group like: 'what are some of the halal options or top burger halal places?'" she said. "So people who were living here before, they started commenting on it."

But it was clear that Montreal was lagging behind other Canadian cities.

Ali said Toronto has practically "unlimited" places for halal food. Even other cities, like Calgary, have significant Muslim populations, which encourages restaurants to offer broader halal options.

But in Montreal, she said there are few alternatives outside of certain cuisines.

"There are a lot of Middle Eastern options here," she told CBC's Daybreak. "But if you [want to] go for a Western option, like burgers, or pastas, they're very limited."

Submitted by Ayesha Ali
Submitted by Ayesha Ali

She said that outside of Quebec, some restaurant franchises even have halal alternatives written on their menu.

It's something she said she hopes to see more of here in Quebec, though she acknowledges that the Muslim community feels more "scattered" than it does in other provinces.

That's where the group comes in.

"We are trying to discover those options [now], and trying to talk to restaurant owners in the future. That is our plan," she explained.

"Talk to them and ask them if they could provide halal food, halal meat for Muslims, so they could easily go to those places and eat as well."

She said her hope is that restaurants will start joining and interacting with the group so they can start that conversation.

"And then from that, say: 'yeah, there is a need for halal food here as well.'"

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