Based on research by many parties, including the World Health Organization, it appears that some processed (and red) meats are (or may be) carcinogenic. For example, in this article on the WHO's website:

  1. Processed meat was classified as Group 1, carcinogenic to humans. What does this mean?

This category is used when there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in humans. In other words, there is convincing evidence that the agent causes cancer. The evaluation is usually based on epidemiological studies showing the development of cancer in exposed humans.

In the case of processed meat, this classification is based on sufficient evidence from epidemiological studies that eating processed meat causes colorectal cancer.

If we assume that it is prohibited to engage in dangerous behaviours, would it still be permissible according to Halacha to consume meat?

More so, are there any (recent) authoritative Halachic sources that permit eating meat based on "Shomer Pesa'im Hashem"?

*I realize that there are many other points that relate to the eating of meat, like the Torah's permission to eat it, other health concerns, mitzvot associated with it, etc.

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    They say the number one cause of death is living. At the end of it, everyone ends up dead. :P While intended to be a little humorous, it contains a kernel of truth that nothing in life is completely safe. The question is, how 'dangerous' are the actions in question? Most everything has some element of 'danger', but I can personally vouch for having witnessed hundreds of people eating meat and not dropping dead on the spot. Is it a 'minimal' increase in likelihood of cancer, 'significant' increase, etc? Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 16:04
  • @Salmononius2 spot on. That is essentially an important part of the question. Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 16:28
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    Please note that your source deals only with processed meat, which is a small subset of meat as a whole Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 17:31
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    Shomer Peta'im is worthy of its own question. It seems to be one of the main reasons to permit something that is generally known to be harmful (such as smoking.) As for meat - if you view most of Talmud, it seems to indicate that one should not be a big meat eater and it should be reserved for special occasions (Shabbat, Yom Tov, etc.) Ramba"m, form my recollection, is more specific on discouraging meat for health reasons.
    – DanF
    Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 21:40
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    @EthanLeonard I think when I asked it, it was about statistically dangerous quantities Commented May 29, 2023 at 11:25

1 Answer 1


To be Halachicly valid and obligating any danger must be unanimously considered a "validated fact" (חזקה) either by the Gemorah (like drinking open water) or by the contemporary society. A seeming danger that is not widely accepted as a danger cannot be obligating, though of course, on a personal level, one must consult his physician and Rabbi.

Example - the leading Rabbonim of the 20th century and smoking. It took decades to commonly accept the fact that smoking is a DIRECT danger that affects everyone, as many Gdoylim that remembered the ads of the 50s and 60s about the benefits of smoking continued to support smoking until the late 90s (unfortunately endangering thousands of innocent followers).

WHO is currently not a "commonly accepted standard", it will take some time (if at all) to become a consensus (like asking your personal physician) and then you might want to come back and re-ask your question.

Another point is that eating meat (at least on the Shabbos table) is considered a big Mitzvah (or a Tikkun, similar to Mizbeah) as the Gemmorah says (Psochim 109a) "אין שמחה אלא בבשר ויין".

  • My rav was always quoting this... :-) Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 17:33

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