Halacha » Marat Ayin – Suspicious Activity

Marat Ayin – Suspicious Activity

Our Sages forbade cooking or eating anything that looks like it might be a mixture of meat and dairy, even if it really is not. For example, one would not be allowed to eat a fake cheeseburger, or cook meat in soy milk. The reason behind this prohibition is referred to as marat ayin. It means that someone seeing you cook or eat the food may not know that what you are doing is permitted. They might either think that they, too, may cook meat and milk, or that you are transgressing a prohibition (שו”ע יו”ד פז:ג-ד). This prohibition of marat ayin only applies when what you are doing can seem like a biblical prohibition. If the misinterpretation of your actions would only be for a rabbinic prohibition, then it would be permissible to do the action. Meaning, if one was cooking meat in soy milk he is potentially transgressing a biblical prohibition if the soy milk would have been real milk, therefore he would not be allowed to cook meat in soy milk. But if one was cooking chicken in soy milk, since even if the soy milk was real milk the person is only transgressing a rabbinic prohibition, it would be permissible to cook the chicken in soy milk. However, it would be better only to do this in private. (עיין בדרכי משה סוף סימן סו, וע”ע פלתי ס”ק ז) This prohibition only extends to cooking or eating foods that were cooked together, but if the two foods are not actually mixed there is no marat ayin. (For example, eating non-dairy ice cream after a meat meal is permitted because they aren’t mixed together, even though it would be prohibited to eat real dairy ice cream after a meat meal.)