Religious authorities establish new rules for lab-grown Kosher or Halal meat

Originally published at: Religious authorities establish new rules for lab-grown Kosher or Halal meat | Boing Boing


Science fiction becomes reality once again.

These rulings might not convince everyone who is committed to strict religious observance.

One thing is for certain: there are always religious fundies who’ll bend themselves into pretzels to deny people simple pleasures.


Next up, Wendy Meat? The guilt-free cannibal option.


Human flesh is not allowed-we neither chew the cud nor have hooves, cloven or otherwise. No matter how you twist it, pork isn’t going to become allowed just because no pig died for the bacon.


Sorry, I forgot about the “Kosher and Halal” qualifiers at the end of the headline. Yikes!

1 Like

I find this interesting too… this is how these religious communities continue to exist in the modern context, because they often seek ways to accommodate change… As it should…


Seems pretty straightforward.


The whole topic of “lab-grown meat” is fascinating to me. I hold the position that you can’t really be ethically opposed to “lab-grown meat”. I note that I get a lot of gut reactions regarding “lab-grown meat”. Haw haw, but seriously. It seems to me there will be some significant ideological biases to overcome before “lab-grown meat” gains widespread acceptance. I can’t believe I am saying this sincerely, but “lab-grown meat” is a concept really in need of a good PR campaign, starting with replacing “lab-grown meat” with a euphemistic name that sounds warm, cool, and delicious. Better still, A PAIR of euphemistic names, one marketed to Yaysayers and the other marketed to the Naysayers.

and we’ll need to move past clever and not-so-clever references to the word “soylent”…


“Hot fudge sundae” ? :wink:


There might be other factors as well.



I have to say, I’m disappointed by the failure of imagination here. They didn’t come up with “new rules” at all, ultimately - they just applied the old rules to the new situation (even if they didn’t always make sense). Except maybe in the case of the Kosher ruling of using embryos, which bypasses the slaughter issue, which is new. (But then creates the issue that the Halal and Kosher lines have to be kept separate, even though they’re functionally identical. Presumably fundamentalist Christian vegetarians - if there are such people - won’t find the Kosher line acceptable either.)


The Muppets No GIF by ABC Network

And I think it’s a good reminder that not all religious people actually define life beginning at conception.

I mean… that’s kind of how these kinds of religious discussions work? How do new situations fit into the already existing structures…


In Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood had ChickieNobs, harvested from headless lab-grown quasichickens (‘No brain, no pain’).


There’s also plenty of examples of religious rulings that look at why a prohibition is in place, or just make sure the product doesn’t violate restrictions (making sure the cells aren’t grown using forbidden substances makes total sense). Requiring the cells to have come from a halal-slaughtered animal is just forcing the new thing to fit within the existing way of doing things, even though it doesn’t make sense. (You’re not eating that animal. What if the cells came from a biopsy from a living animal?) This mostly feels like religious rulings where everyone was trying hard not to have to think about the issues (and how other religious laws, that didn’t have to do with slaughtering animals might actually be more relevant).

Although there are probably more examples of religious rulings that just completely violate both the spirit and letter of religious prohibitions because it makes life easier/people don’t have to think about it.


I do wonder how far away the kosher hog (or kog if you will) is though.

If you extracted the genes from a pig, artificially replicated it twice and then inserted the pig-material-free copies into the egg of a cow and then grew meat from it if it would be enough. Or perhaps we’ll need genetic engineering…

Lab-made vegan casein (and thus vegan cheese that actually tastes like cheese) isn’t too far out… so kosher cheeseburgers will be a thing.


In Ethiopia (and I am guessing elsewhere), Orthodox Christians have a similar process. I don’t know if the slaughtering technique differs so much as the words uttered*. When there’s a big holiday or wedding party (for example) where Christians & Muslims attend, someone might separately prepare some meat for one or the other. I guess the Christian concept is closer to Halal than Kashrut (e.g. there’s no prohibition against mixing meat & dairy).

*As far as I’m concerned, those prayers all go to the same place & the intent is the same - but I tend to keep this to myself depending on the company. Emigres/visitors (particularly if they’re older) might not eat any meat at all while they’re in the USA if they don’t know who slaughtered it (nor how it was done) and Halal meat would be right out.

Even lab-grown meat would be right out for the purposes of tsom (fasting periods with no meat nor dairy) if it’s derived from actual animal meat - plus the additional point of going without it. (But when I brought it up, a bigger issue than either of those is the “eewww” factor. Sample size = 1)


In the 1980s at a science fiction convention, I was doing the “Sabbath Goy” thing for a group of Jewish fans when this very topic of cloned meat came up, and a sticking point for the orthodox appeared, at the time, to be the whole “no work on the Sabbath,” at least for a situation where there were no others not of their faith available.

Cloning takes work, and that work takes more than six days, so to them unless it was completely automated so nobody had to so much as look at it from sundown to sundown, it could not possibly be considered Kosher. In addition, some but not all stated that unless some of each step of the preparation, production, and processing was done with an observant, properly trained member of their faith they would not consider it truly kosher. Another issue raised at the time was whether it constituted “the limb torn from a living animal,” also prohibited, and whether the resultant food would be considered meat (fleishig) or not (pareve) for purposes of mixing meat and milk.

(edit, clarity.)


Too bad Speef and Spork are already taken :wink:

That’s what I find myself really curious about here. I don’t get NYT anymore, so maybe it’s covered in the article, but I’m definitely interested in the conversations that happened between the religious folks and the lab meat folks, and how much they cared about delving into the reasoning, as far as they understand it, behind the limitations set forth in their respective religious texts in the first place.


As far as looking at how religious rules apply in different situations, I had thought this was interesting. (No, it’s not actually taking the question as an important one to resolve, just something to explore.)


Episode 8 of season 2 of Eureka, “E=MC…?” had a similar plot. One of the scientists was growing chicken meat in a lab and all of the town’s super-smart residents started acting less intelligent right when a dangerous experiment was about to be run (after the experiment, which couldn’t be aborted safely, had already started. Naturally.)

1 Like