Turkey will no longer allow production and sale of vegan cheese | Totally Vegan Buzz
Turkey just banned production and sale of vegan cheese
Image: tvd.org.tr

Turkey’s vegan cheese ban is the latest instance of countries implementing restrictive plant-based food legislation.

The Turkish government has banned the production and sale of vegan cheese triggering outrage in the plant and animal advocate community.

The legislation has already outlawed the use of the term “cheese” to describe products that are dairy-free under the pretext that it could confuse consumers.

Now the country’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry states that “products that give the impression of cheese cannot be produced using vegetable oil or other food ingredients.”

Moreover, vacuum packaging, which according to the authorities, can be misinterpreted as traditional cheese, has also been prohibited.

The implementation of the ban means companies manufacturing plant-based (vegan) cheese are subject to inspections and liable to be fined. Plus, vegan cheese products have been taken off from the market, and consumers are no longer able to access these products.


The decision has been strongly opposed by the plant-based community. The Vegan Association of Turkey (TVD) has even filed a lawsuit against the ministry in a bid to annul the ban.

According to the non-profit, “the fact that the necessary clarification has not been made even about the similarity criteria, which is the basis of the said ban, creates an open-ended area of pressure and action for the inspectors/punishers operating in this field.”

This is so because the amendment of the Article 9/3 added to the Turkish Food Codex Regulation indicates that any product that is “considered to resemble [dairy] cheese but does not even contain the word cheese in its name” can be prohibited unreservedly.

And there is no clarification on what the “similarity criteria” entails.  

In an ensuing petition to the Turkish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the group argued that the prohibitions encroach on consumers’ freedom of choice, especially those who do not consume and/or cannot consume dairy products of animal origin due to ethical, environmental and health reasons.

The group also pointed out that while the prohibitions in question are portrayed as measures taken to protect consumer rights and to prevent adulteration / deception, there are no suitable alternatives provided to solve the problem.

Moreover, highlighting the repercussion of the ban on plant-based producers, the group added: “In the face of this unprecedented ban, the plant-based cheese manufacturing companies that have already invested in this field of work, created production facilities and employment opportunities, stockpiled raw materials, and exported products are now being punished.

“The plant-based cheese manufacturers in Turkey can’t see ahead of this ban because no solution, no way out has been shown to them.

“This is in stark contrast to the goals and most important duties of the State, which is to improve the competitiveness of national companies in the international market, to facilitate the production, employment and exports, and to develop new technologies.”

Bans on plant-based products across the world

Turkey is just the latest country to implement prohibitive laws around the making and labeling of vegan and plant-based products.

Last month, France imposed censorship on terms like “sausage,” “steak,” “bacon,” and “chicken.”  The ruling will come into force in October 2022 and will be applicable to domestically-manufactured products. All imports will remain uncensored.

France’s ban came just days after South Africa’s Department of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development banned terms like “plant-based meatballs” and “chicken-style strips.”

While many countries are considering bans on alt-meat foods citing “consumer confusion”, research shows that consumers are not misled by meat terminologies on plant-based products.

A 2021 Cornell University study found that participants were not confused by meaty terms on plant-based foods. On the contrary, researchers argued that ‘omitting words that are traditionally associated with animal products from the names of plant-based products actually causes consumers to be significantly more confused about the taste and uses of these products’.

You can sign the petition here.

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