For a vegetarian in Muslim country the holiday of the ‘Sacrifice Feast’ known as ‘Eid Al-Adha’ can provide an uncomfortable atmosphere.
With the approach of Eid-Al Adha, Muslims around the world hurry to buy livestock for the purpose of ‘qurbani’ or ‘udhiyyah’, the Islamic practice of sacrificing an animal on particular days to please God and seek his reward.
In Egypt sacrifices begin the first day of Eid-Al Adha. Egyptians will then cut up the meat to last four days.
Eating the meat as a family is an integral part of Eid so vegetarians are often pestered by family members to partake.
To avoid this meat centric holiday many vegetarians will travel to tourist cities such Sharm El-Sheikh and South Sinai, however those who can’t must find other ways to get through Eid with their families.
“During Eid Al-Adha 2016, my family pressured me to eat meat by saying that it was a Sunna from the Islamic Prophet Mohamed and that there was no other types of food so I surrendered and ate it, this caused me great pain and I was exhausted,” Mohamed Goely, a movie director, told Egypt Independent on Thursday.
Goely, a vegetarian for nearly five years, noted that he would do his best to avoid pressure from his family to eat meat this Eid period, adding that he may resort to eat alternatives such tuna.
20 year old medical student, Omar Ali, decided to be a vegetarian a year ago. He said that despite the festive atmosphere of Eid-Al-Adha, there was a dark part of this holiday for him, not just being invited to eat meat but to participate in the slaughter.
“I always tried to be away when slaughter time came, not because I’m afraid as some of my family members think, but because I do not like to be involved in anything related to meat. This Eid I will out of Cairo, as I am heading to the South Sinai city of Dahab,” he said.
Similarly, female English instructor Marwa Salem, a vegetarian since 2015, faces ongoing pressure from her family to eat meat during the period of Eid Al-Adha. Like Ali, she will leave Cairo with her friends to Ain Sokhna resort located in Suez governorate.
“For two years I followed a weight loss system that avoids eating meat, so I became a vegetarian and I eat specific meals. When Eid of Al Adha is approaching problems with my family start to surface,” she explained.
On a regular basis vegetarians will refuse to attend what Egyptians call ‘Azayem’ [translated into family gatherings], to avoid all the hassle of explaining their food choices.