Religion and plant based "meats"

I thought this was a very interesting article. Does anyone eat, or plan to eat, some of these new faux meats that your religion prohibits?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/09/12/shalt-thou-eat-an-impossible-burger-religious-doctrine-scrambles-catch-up-new-food-technology/

3 Likes

It is a philosophically interesting article … but as a devout atheist it is hard for me to comment …it will be interesting to see which religiouns make decisions based on what other religions decide.

Not religious here. Faux meats aren’t something new. I know for Buddhists, they are actually famous for the faux meats in their unique vegetarian cuisine: vegetarian goose, chicken made mainly with soy bean curd etc, no problem what so ever with doctrine. I’m not vegetarian, but I like those. They aren’t even trying to imitate with meat texture.

That say, I haven’t tried impossible meat. But I have heard the meat texture is quite real when compared to minced meat.

The problem here is more if you aren’t suppose to eat an animal with your belief, why you should eat food that still resemble animal meat. The thinking of this is a bit wierd. You could just called the food a soy product instead of fake meat.

5 Likes

I have a foodie friend who converted to Judaism perhaps 20 years ago. She still eats shellfish on occasion, but made and adheres to a commitment to refrain from pork consumption. It has nothing to do with the animal, per se. It could just as easily be peaches as pigs. The principle for her is denying herself the pleasure of a particular food as a way to express devotion; forbearance as ritual. I think that, for her, to eat faux pork would void the ritual and she would need something to replace it.

Fascinating read, thanks.

That might seem like the “main issue” to non-believers, and it might be an issue for “ethical” veg*ns, but for most religiously observant people, the issue really isn’t the “broad philosophical question”, what’s relevant is what religious scripture/dogma actually prohibits. Which presumably is why - according to the article - the relevant certifying authorities have apparently not had the slightest qualm about certifying the plant-based products halal and kosher as long as they do in fact meet the “stated” requirements - which basically boil down to whether or not they are in fact derived from the prohibited animal and are properly processed and handled during production and packaging.

And in Hinduism and Buddhism, the issue is in some ways is arguably even clearer, since there is actually no prohibition against “eating animals” per se (as far as I’m aware, and I’m pretty sure that’s true of Buddhism, anyway), the prohibition is against killing animals. As a matter of religious dogma, as long as no animal is killed, one can easily say the question of prohibition simply doesn’t arise (as is in fact traditionally the case among East Asian Buddhists, for example).

On an emotional level, I suspect many people probably won’t eat such things, at least not for quite a while after they become available, just because it will “seem too weird”, or just as often because, never having eaten the animal/product in question, they simply feel no particular loss at not “being allowed” to eat them in the first place. I do imagine that some less-than-strictly-observant folks who do eat, or sometimes eat, some specific prohibited foods, may take to them as a sort of balm to their conscience. I can easily see “observant-lite” Jews and Muslims who don’t keep strictly kosher or halal in general, but do refrain from eating pork at home while eating, say, bacon or sausage elsewhere, more or less frequently, taking to faux versions of those products because on some level eating the real thing bothers them, if not enough to completely shun them…

But the beef thing is, I think, a non-issue. I don’t see anyone objecting to that, since the issue there isn’t the animal, or despite what the article incorrectly refers to, even “parts” of the animal. (There is no Jewish prohibition against eating “the hindquarter” of a steer, for example, the issue is the sciatic nerve. Meat from the hindquarter from which a properly trained Jewish butcher carefully removes all traces of the nerve is perfectly kosher, although that being an expensive proposition, such meat is rarely found on the US market. But it can be found even here, and from what I’ve read, it’s less rare, if still not “common”, in Israel, where there’s a bigger audience willing to spend the money for it.)

I think the question may get thornier if we ever get to a point where we can literally produce a biochemically “exact replica” in a lab. Would “faux” pork or shellfish that’s physically and chemically indistinguishable from the real thing still be “faux” as a religious matter, because natural animal was involved in its creation? Or would it still be pork or shellfish, no matter how it came into being? Would it be acceptable to veg*ns, religious or otherwise, because it didn’t come from a living animal that had to be killed (or for vegans, otherwise “exploited”,) to obtain it? Hmm… But I think we’re still quite a way from that, food industry optimism notwithstanding…

I’m not questioning the validity of the statement but I’d love to know how this “came to be” since the nerve doesn’t exactly “end” in that the neurons continue to run to the muscles/etc … and none of this was really understood during the times in which these rules were determined … I just can’t relate to religion but the human behavior aspects I find fascinating.

We vaguely remember a lunch that Buddhist monks cooked where one of the dishes was taro-based presented in the shape of a whole fried fish – scales and all ! (It wasn’t trying to taste like fish; it just looked like a fish.)

Yes, and this has always been the case. The Seventh Day Adventists have been producing commercial meat analogue products since the late 19th century. You can buy kosher and halal bacon and ham in kosher and halal butchers - usually made from turkey, but sometimes from duck and if you’re lucky, lamb (esp. in the halal stores).

But there’s always plenty of room for disagreement if your rabbi or your imam or your whatever doesn’t agree with the classification. LOL.

Nothing to do with the article, and this devout atheist won’t touch these issues with a barge pole. Check out Buddhist cuisine in Japan if you ever go there. Stunning and creative creations and nothing resembles animals or any part of them.

In China I ate vegetarian “duck” and “squid”. Mock meats and animal shapes are normal there.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter!

Press Room
“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold