As meat producers tell it, we are experiencing a worldwide assault on meat. A customer could walk into a store and see multiple packages of sausages or burgers that aren’t even sausages or burgers, but insidious, plant-based charlatans. Someone must stop this forgery, this counterfeiting, this brazen deceit. Thank god, ladies and gentlemen, for France.
The BBC reports French lawmakers recently decreed that food producers may not use meat-related terms like steak, bacon, or filet to describe foods not made wholly or partly from animals. The ruling references a 2017 decision from a European Union court prohibiting the use of dairy terms like “milk” or “cheese” on packaging for vegan foods.
But it’s not just the French reclaiming their meat, as it were. The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association has petitioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture to regulate faux-meat labelling in a similar. And recently, two lawmakers in Missouri introduced HB 2607, which would prohibit the selling of lab-grown meat or meat alternatives as “meat.” The bill has passed two committees, but does have its detractors. Representative Deb Lavender told The Intercept the bill is just a defensive maneuver from a meat industry under threat.
“As other substitutes come forward in the marketplace, I think our agricultural community is getting concerned about the loss of share, share of the market that they may have,” she told The Intercept. “People are not going to mistake a veggie burger for a hamburger.”
But that’s precisely what proponents of such bills argue. They claim soy burgers and mushrooms sausages and the like mislead customers, and they’d prefer all vegan-food companies followed Tofurkey’s example by not only labeling their food as meat-alternatives but creating a product that no sane person could confuse for animal-derived meat. I see why meat producers feel threatened by the Impossible Burgers and lab-grown “beef,” but really, no one is mistaking a soy sausage for a Vienna Beef.