In a world that is becoming increasingly polarised by differences in political ideologies, race, sexuality, and faith, there are a special few who go against the grain to create positive, lasting change. Today we speak with Mohammad Modarres, an award-winning social entrepreneur, TED resident, and NPR ‘How I Built This’ Fellow. He is also the founder of Abe’s Eats, a company that brings the Muslim and Jewish faiths together over the shared meals and conversations at the dinner table. A large part of this mission is creating meat and other foods that are both halal and kosher. Additionally, Abe’s Eats promotes regenerative agriculture practices in order to rebuild soil and combat climate change.
In this episode, Mohammad walks us through his personal story and the genesis of Abe’s Eats, going on to explain the differences and similarities between kosher and halal foods. As we explore the topic, we talk to Mohammad about some of the difficulties he faces, like measuring the success of Abe’s Eats, as well as the backlash he receives from conservative communities. Toward the end of the show, we give some of our good friends, Christine, Amber, and MCK, a chance to ask Mohammad some questions. His responses touch on contending with cancel culture, finding common language among society, and how he sees himself as a ‘triple bottom line’ activist. For more insights from Mohammad, be sure to check out one of the links below to hear the full episode.
Key Points From This Episode
Abe’s Eats Slogan: “Building a longer table, not a taller fence”
As a political cartoonist, Mohammad sought to bring attention to hard-hitting issues, which made him consider what drives people and how people of different backgrounds can work together to solve a problem.
At a time when bigotry against Jews and Muslims was skyrocketing, Mohammad wanted to bring the communities together, but eating together was made difficult when one group eats kosher and one eats halal.
Mohammad was not the first to sell a meat (and other products) that were both kosher and halal, but he was the first to label it as such. Big companies that had been selling products for a long time would face backlash from the more conservative customers if they labeled themselves as both kosher and halal. By starting off labeling Abe’s Eats as such, Mohammad avoided some criticism.
Success isn’t necessarily having everyone at an Abe’s Eats dinner hold hands and sing together at the end of the meal. Rather, it is having people converse with other faiths and think deeper afterward about their own beliefs in order to promote understanding.
Around the 2016 election, Mohammad’s best friend and roommate was an older, Trump-supporting woman. In a very polarized world, we should get to know our neighbors. It is hard to hate someone for their differing beliefs if you spend time with them and seek to know them deeper.
“Abe’s Eats evolved because of what was happening in 2016. I wanted to bring my Muslim and Jewish friends together, and to talk about how we can collectively work together.” — @morningmohammad [0:03:27]
“Cancel culture does is it does not give us the space to grow as people.” — @morningmohammad
“When you combine the halal and kosher, you’re actually following a much safer, healthier product, because it takes into account the ecological health, public health, and also respects both faiths very accordingly.” — @morningmohammad[0:09:39]
“If there’s any title I want to associate myself with, I would say I am a local economic activist and a social entrepreneur. Because I’m trying to apply the economics, the environmental and the social components of all of these things, to be able to have successful initiatives.” — @morningmohammad [0:32:18]
“Always remember that just because something may be a little bit broken, doesn’t mean it’s unfixable.” — @morningmohammad [0:44:09]