Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, a prominent authoritative figure of Halacha (Torah law), delivered a speech entitled “Science and Halacha” last month at a symposium held at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University. The rabbi’s speech focused on the topic of cultured meat—also known as “lab-grown” or “clean meat,” which is meat grown from a small amount of animal cells in a lab-setting that eliminates the need for animal slaughter. “When the cell of a pig is used and its genetic material is utilized in the production of food, the cell, in fact, loses its original identity and therefore cannot be defined as forbidden for consumption,” Rabbi Cherlow said. “It wouldn’t even be meat, so you can consume it with dairy.” While the rabbi stressed that his word should not be taken as fact among those who follow kosher laws, he asked the audience to consider the consumption of lab-grown meat under the scope of addressing larger food-industry issues that affect humanity as a whole. “Genetic engineering is important because the meat industry is one of the world’s major sources of pollution,” Cherlow said, “consuming many natural resources—such as water and soil—and also because of the moral problem of [the] industrial production of meat.” A number of food-technology startups—including European brand Mosa Meat, Silicon Valley-based Memphis Meats, Israel-based SuperMeat, and San Francisco-based JUST—are in various stages of developing clean meat, while JUST (the makers of vegan Just Mayo) plans to debut its flagship clean-meat product by the end of the year.
Photo courtesy of Memphis Meats