BY ESTHER HONIG
Wearing a heavy smock and rubber boots, Amadedin Eganwa stands over a large conveyor belt that’s carrying unconscious lambs. He faces east, toward Mecca, gently lifts the animal’s head in the same direction and under his breath he quickly says a prayer — bismillahi allahu akbar, or “in God’s name” — before swiftly cutting the lamb’s throat.
Eganwa, a practicing Muslim, performs this slaughter almost 900 times during each shift at Superior Farms slaughterhouse in Denver so that the meat is halal, meaning it’s prepared according to Islamic law.
With the Muslim population on pace to possibly become the second-largest religious group in the United States by 2040, the demand for halal meat and other foods is on the rise to the point that Nielsen reports U.S. sales increased 15 percent from 2012 to 2015. Some of the largest meat producers in the country — American Foods Group — are providing more that’s halal (in part to satisfy global, not domestic, demand). But industry experts say U.S. consumers may not be aware of it, because some large grocery chains choose not to label products halal.