Which imaginary animals are kosher?

Ann VanderMeer has created this comprehensive analysis regarding which mythical beasts would and would not be kosher. This list could really come in handy under the right circumstances. Now, for bonus points, calculate the intersection of this list with a notional list of halal imaginary beasts.
Dragon - A: “No reptiles or amphibians.” EM: “No exceptions? What about if it chews its cud?” A: “Shut up.”

Encantado (dolphin-human shapeshifter) - EM: “Surely it’s kosher when it’s a dolphin.” A: “A dolphin is a mammal just like you. It has no scales, even though it has fins. Besides, what if it starts changing while you’re eating it?”

ET - A: “…..?” EM: “It had cloven hooves.” A: “It’s a humanoid.” EM: “It looked like a pile of dung. It seemed to chew cud. Would any alien be automatically un-kosher?” A: “I guess it really depends on the alien–like a plant?” EM: “An alien that comes down to Earth.” A: “No, because they wouldn’t be considered an animal.” EM: “What if they looked just like a cow, but with a brain?” A: “Cows have brains.” EM: “Arggh!” A: “But cows don’t travel to other planets using their brains.” EM: “My point exactly!” A: “Anything intelligent is not kosher.”

Headless Mule (fire-spewing, headless, spectral mule) - A: “No, because the mule itself, even if it weren’t fire-breathing, isn’t kosher. The fire doesn’t cleanse it.” EM: “But it’s self-cooking!”

Hippocamp (horse-fish) - A: “Unfortunately, the horse part makes it treyf, and a little bit of treyf makes everything treyf. So if you had 99 percent fish and one percent horse it would still be treyf.” EM: “And a really fucked up looking hippocamp!”

Link (via Making Light)



  1. oh this is brilliant, and just in time for passover.

    thank you. I will consider it when stopped up from the Matzah

  2. That was hilarious!

    Aren’t some insects kosher? That would make certain aliens fit for noshing.

  3. ummmmm,how do they feel about Krakens and Leviathans? (I very strongly suggest you consider your answer carefully)

    on a more serious note, last night I dreamed of Last Waves

  4. @#2:

    The only kosher insect are some species of locusts, and authorities debate over which species (some going so far as to say “We’re not sure which ones so you’re safest eating none.”) So, not really generalizable to aliens.

  5. so would such implications mean make my French Catholic-by-birth mother overrule her conversion prior to my birth, and my growing up Jewish?

  6. Oh man, the Pope Lick Monster of one of the boogey-men of my childhood. It’s supposed to me this half-man, half-goat monstrosity created as the result of a horrible accident on the Pope Lick train trestle outside of Louisville, KY. When we were brave, we would drive out to the trestle at night (it’s in a very secluded, creepy, run down wooded area) and dare each to run and touch the base of the trestle. One time, we locked my cousin out of the car and drove off. He cried.

    Good times.

  7. @#11:

    I’d expect that when she converted, all of her treyf genes converted as well, so you’ve got nothing to worry about.

    What interests me more is the case of low concentrations of treyf; apparently if less than 1/160th of a product is treyf AND you don’t know about it, it’s OK. This observer effect implies there is a whole field of quantum kashrudynamics to study.

  8. Don’t touch that Pope-Lick-Monster, you don’t know where he’s been!

    …seriously, how have they not starved?

  9. Why is the jackalope banned? Rabbits and hares do NOT chew the cud. (come to that , the rabbit itself should not be banned on that basis).

  10. The leviathan being a creature of Hebraic cannon is specificaly mentioned as being both kosher and being served by G-d at the final sukkot festival where we dine inside a giant sukkah made from its skin!

  11. how things are kosher?
    -If it grows from the ground then kosher from time of garden of eden
    -If living creature then permitted post noah for humans but parts torn off while the animal is alive must never be consumed
    -If living creature must meet the following criteria for Jews post giving of torah on Mt Sinai:
    -birds from the list given in the torah, we have lost some of the names because of moving around so now we only eat those with a tradition of being kosher
    -animals must have a split hoof and chew cud
    -sea creatures must have fins and scales
    -some locusts are kosher

  12. When will geneticists work on a truly worthy project: the Kosher Hog aka the Kog.

    Just a little bit of modification to those hooves and we’d be in business.

  13. I’m a little surprised by the assertion that the Baku doesn’t chew its cud. Who knows how a Baku would go about eating nightmares?

  14. And incidentally, how is sentience determine? Because, turning to the back of my Tenach, I notice there is no quiz your friends are you sentient tear out yes or no test…

  15. First off I am an Orthodox Rabbi and used to work in Kashrus certification. Transgenetics usualy have no affect on the kashrus of a food as long as it meets the criteria lin the Torah of being kosher, ie a cow with pig genes which still chews cud and has a split hoof would be kosher. Gemera Chulin also states that the offspring of a kosher animal are considered kosher (although they must also meet the health requirements to be considered edible, it must be in a health state that one would expect it to live a year) so even a non-split hoof deformed cow who is otherwise healthy could be eaten. What is interesting is that there would be room to question wether we could eat a trans-genetic pig, rabbit, lizard, whatever who had both split hoof and chewed its cud. Likely since there would be no reinforcing tradition most would not.

  16. The Mulefoot Hog has a single, not cloven, hoof. It is found in the American South… does that count as a “Kog”?

  17. Considering the answer for the Hippocamp (horse-fish) — “Unfortunately, the horse part makes it treyf, and a little bit of treyf makes everything treyf. So if you had 99 percent fish and one percent horse it would still be treyf.”

    AND considering that people are requesting a kosher hog. . .

    It is not unreasonable to assume that geneticists may someday add a bit of swine DNA to a tomato (like they already have with fish DNA), for some reason– I would assume that (according to the hippocamp decision) any tomato with added swine DNA is no longer kosher.

    Is it a tomato or not? Is genetic code “part of a hog” or is it just information, like ones and zeros?

    Also, how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

    And that reminds me– how do vegetarians feel about tomatoes with fish (or other animal) DNA?

    So many questions.

  18. /All/ gm is out, so even if they mixed a pig and a cow to make it chew its own cud [and not anyone else’s], it still wouldn’t be kosher.

    Its a big deal because in the uS, gm food isn’t labelled, so poor old grans are probably losing lots of mitzvah points right now.

  19. Regarding the Leviathan (post #4, Takuan), we can assume it is kosher because in Jewish mythology the primordial creature is supposed to be consumed by the righteous (tzaddikim) at the end of days. Given that some of the righteous will probably be Jewish, it pretty much a given its kosher although since the proportions of the creature are cosmically ginormous, the responsibility for shechting (slaughtering) it properly is given over to God.

  20. @14, its not 1/160 it is 1/60 as per the phrase ‘batel be shisim’. In any event, you can know about it, for example, if you had a meat stew and you spilled a drop of milk in it. As long as you were under 1/60 you would be ok.

  21. @24 If you’re still lurking aroundI have a question for you!

    On Star Trek they get most of their food from “replicators” which use energy stores (pretty much batteries) and convert the energy into matter as food.

    If they order a plate of ribs then the replicator makes it based on instructions of pork ribs but the meat is not actually from a pig. It’s from a battery. Would that be kosher since it did not come from an animal? Or would the fact that the programming instructions for “ribs” are based on pork make it traif?

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