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Can Lab-Grown Meat Really Be Halal or Kosher?

Food tech startups are racing to market the new proteins, but meeting religious dietary rules is a challenge.

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Illustration: Jordan Speer for Bloomberg Businessweek

After thousands of years of humans raising animals for food, the prospect of building a business around meat created in a laboratory instead of on farms or feedlots looks to be a huge technical challenge. Yet for food tech entrepreneur Josh Tetrick, success depends not just on scientists familiar with the latest advances in bioengineering but also on sages devoted to the details of religious dietary laws.

Tetrick is chief executive officer of Eat Just Inc., a San Francisco startup backed by billionaires Marc Benioff, Peter Thiel, and Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin that’s developing meat that’s grown in bioreactors rather than raised on farms. Unlike plant-based products from Beyond Meat Inc. and Impossible Foods Inc., cultured meat is grown from animal cells and is structurally identical to meat. “From a genetic, from a nutritional profile, it is meat,” Tetrick says. “You just don’t have that slaughter component as a step in the whole process.”