Considering that milk is forbidden with chicken (as stated in this answer), because chicken could be confused with meat, why isn't soy milk considered milchig as well?

In Israel, chicken is considered Fleshig/Besari for all purposes, because it may easily be confused with meat, and Mar'it Ain. Shouldn't "Parve" milk substitutes be considered milchig/halavi for the same reason?

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    May 30, 2011 at 14:43

6 Answers 6


I'd like to propose a different way of looking at the possibility of confusion between chicken and meat.

Most people explain the problem is that the Rabbis decreed that chicken can have a Halachic status of meat, since it is similar in appearance and may be confused with meat. If so, why wouldn't such a decree apply to all things that may be mistaken for something else. As was asked in the question, should soy milk also be considered like real milk?

However, if you explain that the Rabbis were worried about confusion resulting from a logical mistake (and not a mistake in appearance), you could understand why chicken is Rabbinacally considered like real meat while soy milk is not considered like real milk.

To explain. Just like meat, kosher birds have a biblical obligation to be ritually slaughtered and salted. Just like meat, if one of these steps is not done properly, the bird is unfit/forbidden to eat. However, there is no Biblical problem with eating kosher birds with milk.

The Rabbis saw that people were making a logical error and saying, "If a bird that must be slaughtered and salted may be eaten with milk, the same thing should also apply to a kosher animal that must be slaughtered and salted. The animal should also be permitted to be eaten with milk."

Once the Rabbis saw the logical mistake people were making, they banned the practice of eating fowl with milk, so that people would not mistakenly eat animal meat with milk.

I don't have a source for this, but the Taz in Yorah Deah 81:6 S"K 9 uses similar logic to explain why it is forbidden for an adult to drink breast-milk directly from the source. The Taz explains that the reason it is forbidden is because "you may come to switch it with an impure animal", which I understand to mean that you may make a logical mistake that if milk from a person (who is impure - i.e. may not be eaten) may be consumed, I might come to conclude that milk from a nonkosher animal may also be consumed.


I just saw the Rambam, Hilchot Mamrim 2:9, where the Rambam explains the decree forbidding chicken and meat was to prevent a logical mistake. He has a different logical mistake people could make. He says:

...the court says: "The meat of fowl cooked in milk is permitted according to Scriptural Law. We, however, are prohibiting it and publicizing the prohibition as a decree, lest the matter lead to a detriment and people say: 'Eating the meat of fowl cooked in milk is permitted, because it is not explicitly forbidden by the Torah. Similarly, the meat of a wild animal cooked in milk is permitted, because it is also not explicitly forbidden.' "And another may come and say: 'Even the meat of a domesticated animal cooked in milk is permitted with the exception of a goat.' And another will come and say: 'Even the meat of a goat is permitted when cooked in the milk of a cow or a sheep. For the verse mentions only "its mother," i.e., an animal from the same species.' And still another will come and say: 'Even the meat of a goat is permitted when cooked in goat's milk as long the milk is not from the kid's mother, for the verse says: "its mother."' For these reasons, we will forbid all meat cooked in milk, even meat from fowl."

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    Nice. Seems much the same as YDK's (equally nice) answer.
    – msh210
    Nov 14, 2011 at 16:39
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    @msh210: very similar, but YDK is still focusing on physical similarities (and as such, still needs to explain that fish is not considered like meat because it is physically different). I'm focusing purely on a halachic confusion, not a physical confusion.
    – Menachem
    Nov 15, 2011 at 4:43

From what I remember, the rabbinic inclusion of chicken with meat is not because of Maris Ayin (people will think you are doing the wrong thing) but because of confusion in the law. Having a chicken on the table to show you are eating chicken won't help. They know it came from the chicken, but they will mistakenly assume that just as chicken can be eaten with milk, so can meat since it's biologically the same- only the Torah makes a distinction.

No one thinks soy or almond milk is the same as cow or goat milk, so they won't mistakenly extend your case to real milk. However, someone who sees you and thinks you are drinking milk may assume that you are doing the wrong thing.

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    Following that reasoning, shouldn't fish be considered meat and not parve?
    – Carmi
    May 31, 2011 at 3:59
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    Good point, but not from an observer's point of view. Fish flesh is so fibrously different, that it is distinguished from animal flesh when people use the term meat. Many "vegetarians" will eat fish as well.
    – YDK
    May 31, 2011 at 22:08

The Rema (YD 87:3) notes

הגה: ונהגו לעשות חלב משקדים ומניחים בה בשר עוף הואיל ואינו רק מדרבנן אבל בשר בהמה יש להניח אצל החלב שקדים משום מראית העין כמו שנתבאר לעיל סימן ס"ו לענין דם (ד"ע):‏

that one should put almonds on the table if one is consuming almond milk with meat, as a sign so that no one should think there is a mixture of milk and meat. However, modern kashrus agencies don't feel there is a concern for confusion on this matter anymore. The OU communicated to me a while ago, regarding the sale of burgers with fake cheese in kosher certified restaurants:

"Our poskim have spoken about this very question, they have ruled that today just as pareve creamer and pareve margarine and pareve ice-cream have become very common so too are pareve imitation cheese and the like. Still they have said that it should be marked very clearly on the menu and the receipt that the cheeseburgers are made with pareve cheese. These indications too can constitute a heker and there is no need to specifically place soy beans."

  • But in the same vein, chicken burgers are as common as parve cheese. But I still shouldn't eat a chicken-cheese-burger.
    – Carmi
    May 30, 2011 at 15:40
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    You shouldn't confuse the two issues: 1) the prohibition on eating dairy and poultry; 2) the prohibition of maras ayin -- appearing to eat milk with meat. You will note that the Rema does not extend the latter prohibition to a mixture of milk and poultry because that prohibition is only rabbinic to begin with -- he only notes the custom of almonds for almond milk with actual meat (not poultry)
    – Curiouser
    May 30, 2011 at 17:48

For those who want a sourced response check out this great article: margarine misconceptions and maris ayin.

Basically we follow the Kreisi Upleisi's exception that once something becomes common it lessens the prohibition of maris ayin. Nowadays no one would think twice about "buttering" your bread with margarine etc.; the same would apply with soy milk. Some might say its preferred to leave the container on the table, but it would not be meakev.

  • Thank you for this link. I remember being puzzled that my LOR served me "ice cream" (it wasn't really) after a Shabbat meal without bringing any packaging to the table, but I sure wasn't going to ask him about it right there in front of everybody. Jul 31, 2012 at 14:20
  • @MonicaCellio, why not?
    – Seth J
    Jul 31, 2012 at 14:25
  • @SethJ, I was a guest in his home, I was new to observance and unfamiliar with the norms, everybody else was acting like it was normal (I'd never seen soy "ice cream" before), and I (at the time) reasoned that I could accomplish my goal by asking him privately later. (Except I failed to do so.) Jul 31, 2012 at 14:37
  • @MonicaCellio, so you were surprised that he was serving it, or just surprised that, despite the fact that it was obvious, he didn't put out the container so everyone could see it?
    – Seth J
    Jul 31, 2012 at 14:40
  • @SethJ, first I was surprised that he was serving it, then I reasoned that if he was doing so then it obviously wasn't really dairy, then (knowing about the almond-milk case) I wondered why he didn't bring the container to the table. That it was obviously not dairy, for me, came from the context, not from the food itself -- if someone else had served it I suspect I would have asked. It seems I was just out of touch with what's considered "normal", like in the margarine case, and if I were more aquainted with the freezer section at the store I'd've known sans rabbinic context. Jul 31, 2012 at 14:45

I have to disagree with the other answers but I believe it would be too lengthy of a discussion.

Assumptions of what people will and will not be confused with is a difficult prospect. (Tuna salad and Chicken Salad and Potato salad for example, can all be made to look exactly alike. I know because once my fridge had all 3 inside and I did not know which was which until tasting them.)

I believe the correct answer to this question is as follows.

  1. After the Gemora, in general we do not make new issurim, and even if we did, they would not be universally recognized.

  2. The reason we consider Chicken to be meat is because the Gemora does so. Perhaps today with modern packaging we would not make the same claim. Or perhaps today, because of similar laws of Shechitah, we would make the same ruling.

  3. The gemorah did not declare things like almond milk chalav, and did not declare things like fish blood unkosher. So we do not do those things either. Perhaps if chazal were around today, Grillers meat (which is dairy) would not be kosher, just as they did not allow Bread to be made dairy. And perhaps soy products would also be considered Dairy. But we are not living in the time of Chazal and the Jewish world is already very fragmented, so we do not make life more difficult for people when we can avoid to. (Except, of course, for those communities today who do exactly that... but they are not the norm.)

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    I am assuming the question also is why didn't the chachamim make parve milk milchig. For example, the mechaber mentions almond milk. I don't know if this existed in the time of chazal, but if it did, why was there no gezeira.
    – YDK
    Nov 14, 2011 at 14:32

Maybe not the answer people might expect, but there is a big difference between regular milk and soy/almond milk. Regular milk can be made into cheese; soy/almond milk cannot (at least not without an artificial rennet added). Perhaps it's this distinction that makes soy milk essentially pareve.

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