The European Union (EU) is being criticized by politicians and a vegan organization for banning plant-based food that use traditional “meat” terms such as burgers, sausage, and bacon.
This month, the EU Parliament’s Agriculture Committee approved a ban on using the term “meat” in vegan and vegetarian products to protect “meat” terms traditionally used in animal-derived products to avoid misleading consumers.
If voted into effect by the Parliament in May, plant-based burgers might be called “discs,” sausages will be “tubes,” among others.
Politicians described the ban as “unlawful” and “ridiculous” and claimed that it is just an attempt to undermine the growing market in meat and dairy alternatives.
“This ridiculous proposal shows the lengths the EU parliament’s agriculture committee will go to to promote factory farming of meat and dairy, whether at the expense of the environment, rural communities or, in this case, plain common sense,” Marco Contiero, Greenpeace EU Agriculture Policy Director, said in a statement.
“This is nothing more than a cynical attempt to undermine an emerging market in meat and dairy alternatives which greatly benefits farmers, consumers, and the planet.”
Green MEP Molly Scott Cato, who doubts the motivation behind the ban, added: “The suspicion is that this has come from the meat industry out of panic at the fact that young people are moving away from eating meat.”
“It wasn’t as if people were buying veggie burgers and asking: ‘Where’s my meat?’ People are moving increasingly towards a plant-based diet, and young people at a terrific speed.”
As a response to the ban, vegan nonprofit organization The Vegan Society legally challenged the proposal via a formal letter to the EU officials signed by the CEO and prepared by a legal professional.
The organization claims that the ban breaches the fundamental rights of vegans that are set out by the EU, adding that it will affect not only vegan consumers but also businesses that offer plant-based options.
“As consumers are increasingly moving away from eating animals, the demand for vegan products is growing,” said George Gill, CEO at The Vegan Society.
“There’s no denying that meat, dairy, and egg industries are feeling threatened by this and desperately trying to restrict the marketing of vegan products.”
“These proposals have little to do with consumer protection and instead are motivated by economic concerns of the meat industry.”
Dr. Jeanette Rowley, Vegan Rights Advocate at The Vegan Society, added: “This proposed measure is not aligned with EU policy on respect for diversity.”
“It is not in the public interest and, if implemented, would have a disproportional impact across society by affecting the normal daily functioning of all public and private entities that provide food.”
“This EU measure threatens to cause widespread administrative chaos, confusion and time wasting trying to understand how to plan a meal that includes a veggie disc or a veggie tube. The widespread impact of this unreasonable and costly proposal should not be underestimated.”
The Vegan Society is urging the EU officials to reject the “irrational measures” to ban plant-based products that use “qualified conventional terms everyone has been using for decades.”
The Vegan Society plans to escalate the issue if the EU does not respond to the letter within 21 days.