When deciding to go vegan in 2015, I didn’t think about what Islam says. I was driven by the injustice towards animals and the environment as a result of intensive animal farming. Going vegan, switching my diet to plant-based, was a logical step upon seeing the horrors.

But soon, I had to face the questions like...

“Does being vegan align with Islamic values?”
“How does one sacrifice during Eid Adha without animals?”
“Is eating meat mandatory?”

...and so on.

For years, I struggled alone, trying to find the answers.

Now, the answers are abundant and there is even a growing community of Muslims who are also vegans.

A Gathering of Like-hearts

For the first time in history, there was a gathering of people from 22 countries that focuses on Islam and Veganism. The participants weren’t all vegan or Muslims. But what we have in common is the interest in ethics and environmental stewardship.

Green Islam is an organisation that strives to highlight the incompatibility between modern consumption and lifestyle practices with Islamic teachings.

I’m grateful that I was invited to attend the summit, learn from the experts, and gain new connections.

What Went On — The Green Islam Summit Agenda

The summit took place in Istanbul, Türkiye from 23-25 April 2024. Most of us arrived in Istanbul the day before the first day of the summit to get settled. The following three days were full of learning, connecting, and ideating.


The first day was spent mainly getting to know all the participants and their amazing work. I will list the people/organisations and what they do in another article so you may connect with them too.

There was also a discussion on a hypothetical campaign idea “Dairy Is Haram”. We were encouraged to discuss if this could work and how we could improve it. This discussion brought about various points of view which I found to be so interesting.

The organisers of the Green Islam Summit 2024


The morning session was about “Effective Outreach” with examples in various fields such as corporate, marketing, and street advocacy. Then, we moved on to “Environmental advocacy in advancing veganism in Muslim countries”. One rarely hears such a topic in such a context so I felt very blessed to be learning directly from the leaders and organisers.

The afternoon session was the most interesting and relatable for me as it was on “Implementing Islamic teachings in our vegan advocacy efforts”. The Vegan Imam — Talha Taskinsoy — shared his journey to veganism just by studying ayats of the Quran. Then, Fawzia Jaffan of the Middle East Vegan Society taught us some practical aspects when engaging with people like how to respond to certain questions. Lastly, Altamush Saeed showed some strategies to integrate Islamic teachings into campaigns.

All living beings roaming the earth and winged birds soaring in the sky are communities like yourselves. We have left nothing out of the Record. Then to their Lord they will be gathered all together. (Quran 6:38)

Just before dinner, there was a session on “War and Climate Vulnerability” with presentations by Nazish of Muslim Climate Watch and the Vegans for Palestine team.

Imam Talha Taskinsoy (vegan imam)
Altamush Saeed (the legend)


The final day started with Imam Talha’s presentation on Islam and Gender. I didn’t get the point of this section. But then he went on to explain about how knowledge comes hand in hand with good manners — Ilm and Adab. He argued that one of the reasons some people don’t want to receive knowledge of animal rights is because they lack adab. I think he was implying that some Imams lack the manners or humility despite having vast knowledge. As such it has been challenging to engage with them with regards to animal rights.

Then there was a presentation on building empathy for animal advocacy. I didn’t really understand the point of this when most if not all of us already have or understood empathy. What meant to be a scientific understanding of empathy turned into a triggering experience for some. There was an exercise to imagine the life of certain vulnerable individuals. There wasn’t a trigger warning and a choice to opt-out. And so this triggered a few people which brought the following sessions to a halt as an intervention with explanations and apologies were carried out. Because this was dragged on, a few presentations were cancelled and the last hours were spent on roundtable discussions for fundraising, organising, and information gathering.

Logistics and Vegan Food

The summit happened at a seaside hotel. The Green Islam team arranged everything — bless them. Vegan food was served for breakfast, tea, lunch and dinner. The food was mainly Turkish and Middle Eastern so there were dishes that were new to me.

What Could Be Better

I’d say for me I achieved my goal of connecting with more people working towards similar goals. So overall, the summit was a net positive and I did learn a lot.

However, there were aspects of it that could be better. I feel that the agenda was a little bit too ambitious in terms of the length of time. I understand that with all the excitement of this being the first ever gathering of its kind, one would want to fit a lot in. But human beings need periods of rest, rejuvenation and connection. A packed agenda might make sense for a large conference. But for a small gathering of around 50 people, with one of the intentions was to connect with each other, more roundtables or breakout groups would’ve been beneficial.

Furthermore, considering this was supposed to be a summit relating to Islam and Veganism, the Islam part was lacking. Yes, there was the basic presentation on the alignment of Islamic values and animal rights. But say for the presentation on empathy or advocacy, I’d have appreciated the point of view of the Quran and Sunnah e.g. how the Prophet (pbuh) did similarly in those areas.

I knew something was missing but I couldn’t pinpoint until towards the end. There was a lack of the actual practice of Islam in the spiritual sense such as making du’a at the opening and closing, the practice of remembrance or dhikr, the playing of some ayats of the Quran, etc. The only practice that was considered was the prayers. And I feel this lack — the intention and remembrance of doing all of this for the sake of Allah — made this event less impactful.

On My Impostor Syndrome and How I’m Overcoming It

I was one of the few not affiliated with an organisation. And although I’ve been vocal about being Muslim and Vegan, I questioned the impact of my advocacy.

I’ve been vegan since 2015 and almost immediately I started documenting my vegan food journey on Instagram. I didn’t think about marketing or making money. I was never an inventive cook. My meals were very simple. I also showed my travels and lifestyle. It was very much the time of true “social” media where one just shares stuff for one’s friends and family to see.

That was also the time where YouTube influencers were popping up. I didn’t know that they made money from it but I started filming myself because I thought it was fun. I did enjoy the whole process.

As a fresh graduate new to the workforce, one’s job tends to take over one’s life. At that time there weren’t many opportunities in animal rights advocacy work except volunteering or creating one’s own.

So my advocacy was all over the place and inconsistent.

I was part of the Malaysian Vegan Society (now defunct) doing outreach. But my volunteering was mostly in the climate sphere. I thought that by going into an environmental NGO I could slip in some animal rights stuff. They are inter-related after all, right?

Well, the reality was that people couldn’t make the connection. At least not in Malaysia where there are not many factory farms and meat products are mostly imported. How can you make a connection when that thing is not even there?

In 2023, 8 years into being vegan, I finally got a job in the animal advocacy field. I felt like an official animal rights advocate, even though my job was to teach advocates on how to advocate effectively — not directly helping the animals. Still, it was fulfilling and probably the best job I’ve experienced to date.

I’m no longer with the animal rights organisation and I’ve also stopped taking on copywriting clients, which has been my main job for years. And so with this un-affiliation and the feeling that I haven’t made a massive impact in terms of vegan advocacy, I felt like an impostor during the Green Islam summit.

Accepting That I Did Make Some Impact and That I Can Do Better

People who know me assured me that I have done a lot. A fellow Malaysian Vegan told the room that I was the first visibly Muslim Hijabi woman in Malaysia who publicly talked about veganism and Islam.

I was flattered and I decided to be kinder to myself.

Yes, I’ve done a lot. No, I don’t have tens of thousands of followers. And I say — Alhamdulillah!

I’m glad I was allowed to grow and make mistakes without the views of millions of strangers. Nearly a decade of being vegan, I can confidently say I know where I stand and what my values are. And I am less afraid to speak up on nuanced and controversial veiws.

The past is the past. All I can do now is to act in alignment with my values and do better for the animals and the environment.

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