Ever since I read the critically-acclaimed young adult thriller “Cryptid Hunters” by Roland Smith in the early 2000s, I’ve been interested in the “science” of cryptozoology, or the study of creatures that may or may not exist. These animals and humanoids span folklore and legend. Some, like Bigfoot, are urban legends with far-reaching influence. Others are local, rising to mythic status through whispers and tall tales. Cryptozoology is widely regarded as pseudoscience, its star creatures probably nonexistent, but I’m not interested in proving the existence of cryptids. Instead, let’s discuss if we can eat them.
Kosher laws detail what foods can be consumed and how they should be prepared. For the sake of argument, let’s imagine that all of these creatures can be slaughtered and cleaned in accordance with kosher law and will not come into contact with dairy. Of course, if one was starving, the law of Pikuach Nefesh (preservation of human life) would allow the consumption of one of these cryptids, but I’m sure you could find a rabbit or something before resorting to an actual dinosaur.
Bigfoot is perhaps the most famous cryptid, with several regional iterations, such as the Yeti (Himalayan Mountains), the skunk ape (Florida), the Yeran (China) and the Yowie (Australia). He is described as a bipedal, reclusive ape-like creature covered in black or brown fur. Often referred to as the “missing link” between humans and apes, Bigfoot’s close relation to people proves him to be non-kosher. If he was called “Bighoof,” maybe there would be more of an argument.
The Loch Ness Monster (Nessie)
The iconic black-and-white photo of an elegant, long-necked beast bobbing in Scotland’s Loch Ness has inspired generations to strike out across the water to search for her. Nessie bears a striking resemblance to the extinct plesiosaur, an aquatic reptile of the Mesozoic era. Plesiosaurs have flippers, not fins, so they fall under the non-kosher category. However, if Nessie is more of the sea-monster type, she may have scales. There is also the hypothesis that Nessie is a giant catfish, which are also non-kosher due to their smooth skin. Ultimately, whether or not Nessie is kosher is up for debate, but I’d lean toward no. Let’s leave her in her lake for now.
Montana Fur-Bearing Trout
These fish are native to the United States and are rumored to grow fur to maintain their body heat in icy lakes and rivers. Despite the fur (often rabbit fur sewn onto the body of the fish), they are just trout, which are kosher. Slap those guys on a bagel and call it a day.
Kraken are legendary sea monsters capable of sinking entire ships and devouring their crews. In addition to being carnivorous, they’re essentially big octopi, which are trayf. Sadly, enormous calamari have no place on a kosher menu.
These sartorial cryptids are native to Fresno, California, and resemble walking pairs of pants with eyes. They famously travel in pairs, and while no one in Fresno has had direct contact with them, videos of their slow gait have captivated cryptozoologists. Unfortunately, we can’t tell what they eat or whether they have hooves. Even if you were to encounter one, the emotional toll of eating these guys would be too much. They’re just walking pants. Leave them alone.
The subject of “Cryptid Hunters,” Mokele-mbembe is a cryptid that lives in the waters of the Congo. She is completely herbivorous, though allegedly will attack vessels and kill their crews when encountered. Much like Nessie, Mokele-mbembe is depicted as a dinosaur out of time. Even if she did chew her cud, cloven hooves would make it difficult to navigate her natural terrain, and she appears to have smooth skin like a brontosaurus. Not kosher and definitely not worth pursuing.
Mongolian Death Worm
This creature is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Based in Mongolia, the Mongolian death worm is between two and five feet long (yikes) and allegedly has venom that can corrode metal (YIKES). Even if it wouldn’t melt your hands clean off, worms are trayf according to kosher law. Save your hands and leave this one alone.
Hailing from Loveland, Ohio, the Loveland frogmen are large, frog-like bipeds that appear content to live in ponds, unbothered by human interaction, though they have been known to wave wands at surprised couples who disturb them. Even if they were only big frogs, they would be considered trayf along with their smaller counterparts.
The Jersey Devil is native to the Pine Barrens of New Jersey and is described as a winged biped with cloven hooves and a goat’s head. Since goats are kosher, the Jersey Devil might just be the winged equivalent of a gyro. Proceed with caution and season with mint and a squeeze of lemon.
A cryptid garnering interest in recent years, Mothman is an iconic figure to Point Pleasant, West Virginia. He’s described as a winged humanoid with glowing red eyes and is blamed for the collapse of the Silver Bridge in 1967. He is also a moth (not kosher) and a man (extra not kosher). Eating him would also rob Point Pleasant of a huge tourism draw, which would be kind of a jerk move.