Illustration for article titled Meat me in St. Louis: Missouri becomes first state to regulate usage of word “em/emmeat”em/em
Photo: sergeyryzhov (iStock)

Our cultural definition of “meat” has expanded greatly in recent years, as companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods create plant-based burger patties and sausages that taste and feel eerily similar to animal-based counterparts. Back in February, we told you how the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association were lobbying hard to not allow the usage of “meat” to market plant-based or lab-grown meats.

Whether you believe this is of legitimate concern, a C.Y.A. defensive measure, or jabberwocky from a powerful interest group, their efforts have broken through—in Missouri.


On Tuesday, a law went in effect in the Show Me State that prohibited meat-substitute and lab-grown proteins companies from selling their product as meat. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes that the law, signed in June by former Missouri Gov. Eric Grietens (who resigned amid sexual misconduct allegations), carries a $1,000 fine for violators and—holy cow—up to a year in prison.

The law was heavily pushed by the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, which according to USA Today, cited confusion in the marketplace as a reason for supporting the legislation, as well as protecting farmers and meat producers.

Not surprisingly, a number of groups including those representing the plant-based companies, have come against the law. On Monday, a lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court that claims the legislation violated First Amendment rights.

This issue of food and semantics sound familiar: Last month, a similar discussion about whether milk had to come from animals elicited this corker of a quote from F.D.A commissioner Scott Gottlieb: “An almond doesn’t lactate.”


Kevin Pang was the founder and editor-in-chief of The Takeout, and director of the documentary For Grace on Netflix.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter