Waco limits diet of Jews, Muslims

During evening dining services at D’s Mediterranean Grill, owner and operator Nizam Issa prepares a lebanese dish for one of his customers. The restaurant, located at the corner of 15th Street and Colcord Avenue in Waco, is one of the only restaurants in the Waco area to serve kosher foods, as well as authentic Lebanese cuisine.
Matt Hellman | Lariat Photographer

Waco grocers lack kosher foods

By Sobia Siddiqui

Students who eat kosher can expect trouble in finding kosher meat markets or dining areas in small cities such as Waco.

There is not a single meat market that sells kosher meat in the city, as confirmed by Waco Custom Meats & Seafood Inc, Michoacana 1 Waco, TJ Grocery and all the other meat markets listed in the local Yellow Pages.

Kosher meat is meat that comes from animals deemed fit to eat according to the books Leviticus and Deuteronomy. In order for meat to be considered kosher even from the listed animals according to the law, the slaughter of the animal must follow strict regulations as outlined in Jewish law, which includes a single cut across the throat of the animal as well as a mandatory prayer said before the cut is made.

“The reason why there are no kosher or halal meat markets in Waco is because there are most likely either not enough people to demand it, or there is no one voicing their opinion of how Waco lacks it,” said California freshman Sana Patel, who is Muslim.

What this means for students who only eat kosher meat is that their options are very limited.

Most restaurants serve vegetarian and seafood dishes, but not all restaurants are able to cater to kosher diets.

“No, there isn’t a single place I found that sells kosher meat, so I just make my own food,” said Jewish Midland sophomore David Wiseman. “Luckily the laws for seafood are not as strict, so I’m able to get my protein from fish.”

Other Jewish and Muslim students take either the same option as Wiseman by making their own food, or take the other option of buying kosher meat from nearby cities.

“It’s difficult not having it [a meat market] right here in Waco,” said Queens, N.Y. senior Marium Qureshi, who is also a Muslim.

Qureshi said she tavels to Dallas to buy kosher meat.

Nearby cities such as Dallas, Austin and Houston have enough diversity in the demographic of the population that kosher meat is easily available in multiple establishments.

Other students who have meal plans or do not live on their own, such as Patel, essentially become vegetarians.

“I eat veggies or dairy products,” Patel said. “I’m probably not having enough protein.”

Students who eat kosher meat change their diets during the school year and simply eat what is available.

The only dining establishment that has kosher meat is D’s Mediterranean Grill, located at the corner of 15th Street and Colcord Avenue in Waco, which serves kosher beef and lamb. But that meat is not bought in Waco.

“We buy our meat from Dallas, sometimes Austin,” said Diane Issa, who owns the restaurant with Nizam Issa.

Diane is trying to find a way to have at least one establishment in Waco that sells kosher meat, but she says so far there has not been progress.

According to the Baylor Institutional Research and Testing 2010 facts, there are 122 Muslim students at Baylor and 22 Jewish students.

Until there is a kosher meat market, Muslim and Jewish students will have to continue either shopping in other cities or subsisting on vegetarian meals — with the exception of meat served at D’s Mediterranean Grill — during the school year.