When Syed Jafri went to the doctor’s office earlier this year, his doctor told him he had been diagnosed with a health condition that required him to start eating super clean foods to improve his health.
Jafri, who is in his early 30s, took the diagnosis by surprise.
“I’m pretty young, I work out, I don’t eat out a whole lot, so it was very surprising to me to be diagnosed with that,” Jafri said.
After the doctor’s visit, Jafri went out looking for healthier food options and it proved to be more difficult than he thought.
“I found myself running all over the city [Toronto, Canada,] to buy meat, produce and then trying to put them together as a meal,” he said. “I looked and there were a few options, but they weren’t halal.”
The lack of options is what inspired Jafri to create Halal Plates, a weekly halal meal delivery service catering to select cities in the United States and Canada.
Meal delivery services like Blue Apron and HelloFresh have popped up in recent years as an alternative to grocery shopping. Most services work the same way: customers order different meals from a menu, then the ingredients and recipes are packed in a box and sent to their door.
But Jafri, CEO and Co-founder of Halal Plates, aims to do something different with it: He wants to bring authenticity to the dishes by focusing on diverse cuisines.
Meal plans will include cuisines from Muslim-majority countries, as well as recipes from Italy, Korea, Japan and more, he said.
The company is seeing a huge demand for its service already. The inaugural launch was in July and the first orders rolled out in early August. So far, around 15,000 interested customers signed up on the Halal Plates website.
Apart from convenience, most people are attracted to the service because they want healthier meals.
While Jafri was searching for healthier food options for himself, he found that most slaughterhouses and butcher shops — even halal ones — kept their meat in a back fridge for days and immersed it in a chlorine base to maintain a “fresh” appearance.
“People don’t know this. It’s very surprising that they don’t know.”
“This is why I was told to eat better,” Jafri said. “People don’t know this. It’s very surprising that they don’t know.”
Things are done differently at Halal Plates, Jafri said. They use organic produce, grass-fed beef and farm-raised chicken in their meal packages.
“When our chickens are slaughtered, we vacuum seal and flash freeze the meat. We don’t need to use any chemicals to keep it fresh,” Jafri said.
Another reason people are turning to services like Halal Plates is because the portion sizes are customizable and customers are given the exact amount of ingredients needed for a recipe.
“We portion it to exactly how much you need so you’re not wasting food,” Jafri said.
For those who are reluctant to try a meal delivery service, Jafri says, “compare the time, energy and money that you save, and then you will make the choice yourself.”