Compassion is a basic tenet of all major religions, so it's no surprise that the Qur'an forbids cruelty to animals. By Anna Solaiman.

Despite this, some Muslims choose to observe Eid-al-Adha, or  the "Festival of Sacrifice" – and celebrate the mercy of Allah – by mercilessly killing animals whose lives are as dear to them as ours are to us. It's a strange and harmful paradox, but it needn't exist. 

The faithful can choose to reject animal sacrifices and instead show mercy and compassion during Eid simply by eating vegan – that is, by choosing foods derived from fruits, vegetables, grains, pulses, and nuts instead of animals. 

The Holy Prophet Muhammad teaches us that "an act of cruelty to an animal is as bad as cruelty to a human being", and this is especially true when it comes to what we eat. 

Compared to meat-eaters, vegans enjoy better overall health and are less prone to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer.

Studies in England and Germany have found that vegetarians are about 40 per cent less likely to suffer from cancer than meat-eaters are. 

And a US study that has tracked more than 96,000 participants for over a decade has revealed that, on average, vegetarian men live 9.5 years longer than their meat-eating counterparts and vegetarian women 6 years longer. 

Moving away from the meat industry – which pollutes our water and air, degrades our land, and squanders resources – is also the best way to ensure that our children do not grow up in a world ravaged by environmental disasters.

And then there is the most compelling reason of all to go vegan: you will be helping to stop the horrific suffering inherent in the production of flesh. 

The Qur'an tells us that animals are communities and nations unto themselves and that they are more than mere resources.

However, animals are treated as nothing more than disposable commodities on today's factory farms, which kill more than 20 billion living beings each year worldwide. 

They live in misery and deprivation – confined to extremely small spaces so that producers can maximise profits – before finally being crammed onto lorries and shipped to abattoirs where their throats will be slit. 

We know goats, cows, chickens, and other animals have their own personalities and a desire to live, and that they love their babies and mourn them when they're taken away to be processed into a lamb chop or reduced to some other body part.

If we value love and compassion, how can we support such cruelty? 

Adopting a vegan lifestyle is the easiest way for Muslims to live in accordance with the ethical, environmental, and health precepts of Islam, which is why I'll be celebrating Eid with my loved ones at a table full of vegan dishes, such as vegetable samosas and pakoras, spinach potato cutlets, dairy free halwa, falafels and veg dum biryani. 

By choosing vegan foods during Eid and throughout the year, I'm practicing kindness to myself, the planet, and all living beings. 

I encourage my fellow Muslims to visit the Animals in Islam website to learn more about the Qur'an's message of kindness to animals.

Anna Solaiman is a Bangladeshi-born Londoner. She is a supporter of the animal protection group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).