Food & Drink | November 16, 2021 6:30 am

Some Religions Ban Pork. What About the Plant-Based Variety?

Impossible Pork faces an interesting dilemma

Impossible Pork
Impossible Pork Char Siu Buns are sampled during an Impossible Foods press event for CES 2020 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on January 6, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Getty Images

Earlier this fall, Impossible Foods rolled out its latest meat alternative — Impossible Pork — with a high-profile debut at David Chang’s Ssäm Bar. For fans of pork looking to consume less meat, it was a big day. It was also a sign of Impossible Foods’ ambition, which has far exceeded their initial work on coming up with a plant-based alternative to beef.

The idea of pork that’s never been anywhere near a pig opens the door to a very different debate, however — namely, how the religions that prohibit consumption of pork will react to Impossible’s new venture. Traditionally, both Judaism and Islam have frowned on the consumption of pork, which prompts the question of how religious authorities will handle this new wrinkle.

At The Wall Street Journal, Dov Lieber took a deep dive into how the rabbis in charge of kosher certification are pondering the new product. Rabbi Menachem Genack of OU Kosher — the largest organization of its kind, which certifies 70% of the world’s kosher products — has come down against Impossible Pork. According to the article, it comes down to the name — the word “pork” was enough for the board to vote against certification.

While OU Kosher has indicated that it might revisit this, Lieber suggests that their ruling might have an industry-wide impact. And Judaism isn’t the only faith for which this is a challenging decision. Writing at Slate, Aymann Ismail noted that his Muslim faith has kept him from eating pork for his whole life — and has left him with conflicted emotions regarding Impossible Pork.

Both Ismail and Lieber spoke with people for whom the idea of eating a plant-based pork doesn’t seem right, regardless of what certification bodies end up ruling. (For his part, though, Ismail writes that he’s “very excited to try it.”) There are few easy answers when it comes to regulating plant-based meat — delicious as it may be.