With the recent successes in lab-grown food, it could be possible to develop bacon that’s kosher. In just two years, scientists have made incredible advances that could make lab-grown meat a viable option for anyone to consume despite dietary restrictions. For example, in 2013, the first lab-grown hamburger cost around $325,000, and in just two years the same burger cost $11 due to technology advances that made the process more efficient.
Another important challenge with lab-grown meat is not the price, but whether or not it is actually considered kosher. This entails the consensus of rabbis on this new kind of meat. Would lab-grown pork be considered kosher? Would lab-grown be exempted from koshering processes? Is it considered as traditional meat, so it cannot be mixed with dairy?
In an interview with Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, the Wall Street Journal attempted to answer these questions. While he did state that any practices regarding lab-grown meat will require a consensus, he did offer his own views on the matter. He doesn’t view lab-grown meat as meat itself because it’s so far removed from the original animal, so we shouldn’t consider it as the traditional meat that we eat. This would mean that any meat grown in a lab wouldn’t be subject to the kosher rules that farm-grown meat is. In this light, lab-grown bacon would be a viable option.
Other than the accordance with kosher rules, Rabbi Cherlow offered his moral opinions on lab-grown meat. While there are those who would argue that it is unnatural and morally wrong, he argues that we might actually have a responsibility to continue with lab-grown meat. The meat industry is costly (in money, water, land, feed, and labour) and produces a lot of pollution. Lab-grown meat could potentially be mass produced without all the inefficiencies we experience now to feed more people.
As technology continues to advance, there will be a lot of questions on lab-grown meat’s relationship with dietary restrictions. For instance, there are other religious dietary restrictions involving meat other than Judaism. Followers of a vegan diet may also need to evaluate their stance on meat grown in a lab. One thing’s for sure: scientific advances on food science will change how we view food and what we eat, regardless of diet.