Who the hell are EBLEX? Well EBLEX are the UK beef and lamb body that supports farmers, producers and the like to ensure the sector is sustainable and profitable (keep reading, I promise not to bore you). In my role at work I have had many interactions with them as they are hugely influential in the meat sector and when I heard they were having halal conference, well I just had to be there!
I did have one huge worry however… that all the attendees would be old, religious, bearded Muslim men and I would be the only girl there. So all the way up I was imagining the scenarios that could unfold throughout the day – not having anyone to sit with at lunch (major new school nausea), being preached to about how to become a better Muslim, being told I should wear a headscarf… You know all that!
I arrived at the hotel where it was taking place and straight away thought my fears had materialised, I walked in to see a room full of men! But, soon realised that I had walked into laser conference going on at the same time (phew!). That must have been a seriously boring event!
So I finally found the room, sat down and was greeted by a Muslim guy (no beard, middle-aged) who was studying the halal food industry as part of his MBA and then someone from the National Sheep Association sat down next to me. I don’t even have to tell you, she was neither Asian nor Muslim. I was so pleased to see that the crowd was a great mix of backgrounds and industries (in case you are wondering, for my own and the industry’s sake).
It was a really enjoyable and insightful day… We heard about a few scientific studies, on the slaughter process (don’t worry, I’m not going to elaborate), on diets, but most interesting of all a study on non-Muslims perceptions of halal. Not just halal meat, but the halal way of life. Nothing like this has been done before so I could not wait to hear what the results were… but it was like getting to the end of House of Cards season 3 too quickly (which I did on the weekend), because the results are not yet published. What a tease!
The best thing about the conference was all the amazingly interesting people I met… Founder of a website, CEO of a halal certification body, a non-Muslim halal trainer, manager from a trade association (another non-Muslim). It was just so nice to speak to people who are so passionate about the industry.
Let’s hope this means more great meat on menus and in stores!