There's a battle waging in the EU, and it's about the term “veggie burger”

veggie burger on plate
Photo: ATU Images (Getty Images)

Farmers and meat lobbyists are raging over the term “burger” in the EU, where the European parliament will vote next week on whether or not to ban the word to describe the things that we call veggie burgers stateside. The terms “yoghurt-style” and “cheese-style” are also possibly on the chopping block, The Guardian says.

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Meat lobbyists claim that using the word burger to describe a vegetable-based product is a “cultural hijacking” of the meat industry. There’s already a ban in place on using the words “milk,” “butter,” “cheese,” and “yoghurt.”

Those lobbyists claim that marketing agencies are using the word “burger” as a way to trick customers into believing their products are meat-based. The opposition thinks that this is absurd.

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“This is clearly nonsense,” says Jasmijn de Boo of the food advocacy organization ProVeg International. “Just as we all know there is no butter in peanut butter, consumers [buying veggie burgers] know exactly what they’re getting. These proposals are in direct contradiction of the EU’s stated objectives in the European Green Deal and Farm to Fork strategy to create healthier and more sustainable food systems.”

It’s interesting that here in the U.S. this hasn’t been an issue, as far as I can tell. I’ve never been confused about whether or not I’m seeking out a plant-based alternative to meat or dairy, as I’ve had to look specifically for these items since they don’t typically share the same shelf space.

There’s somewhat of a split in the EU: France backs these banning proposals and has already banned veggie burger labeling, while the Netherlands opposes the labeling ban (and has even made this spoof commercial that goes off the rail halfway through). The vote happens this week, and we’ll see what happens to these angry meat lobbyists.

Staff writer at The Takeout. Also: Saveur Humor Blog Award Winner, professional pizza maker, and insufferable troublemaker.

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DISCUSSION

stickmontana
Stickmontana

It’s still insane to me that people still give stock to lobbyists even though they are almost universally derided. The meat lobby gives zero total fucks about consumer “confusion” (not to mention the health and safety of the people and planet). Any more than the milk lobby does.

They care about their profits, full stop. They can also read the writing on the wall. Evidence keeps piling up about the negative health and environmental effects of factory farming especially. People are turning more to plant-based alternatives.

This is nothing but a desperate attempt to stop the bleeding.

I mean how long has “veggie burger” been in the common parlance? Decades at least. It’s too late. No one is confused. Literally no one. Except maybe the meat lobby.