The Vegan Society says that those in the animal farming and meat industries are feeling “threatened” and are “desperate” in wanting to restrict the marketing of vegan products.
New calls have surfaced to ban words like ‘bacon’, ‘sausage’ and ‘steak’ in relation to foods that don’t contain animal products in the UK.
The pressure comes from food consultants, retail experts, farmers and butchers just days after the celebration of World Vegan Day on 1 November.
According to them, vegan products shouldn’t be packaged with words typically associated with meat products.
In fact, experts claim that Britain should follow France, which was supposedly on track to ban words such as sausage and steak plant-based products.
Professor Joshua Bamfield is the director of the Centre for Retail Research. He said: “There should be a new rule saying vegan products cannot be called sausages, steaks or bacon. We ought to follow what the French are doing.
“You’d think Trading Standards would have been onto it already, as what it says on the tin is what should be inside.”
Bamfield, who has been a vegetarian for 20 years, added that the calls were not against people eating vegan food.
“This is not an argument against people eating vegan food. But the idea you can call a product whatever you like, irrespective of what’s inside, goes against labelling laws. Research shows some vegan products are very refined,” he said.
“Calling something a ‘veggie sausage’ is a sales tactic as the producer thinks it will sell more than if it’s called a ‘vegan stick’.
“If they said the product was made in France when it was really made in Wales, the authorities would come down on them like a ton of bricks.”
What Bamfield seems to forget is that The Conseil d’Etat, the highest court in France, has temporarily suspended the country’s vegan meat labelling ban.
According to food awareness organisation ProVeg International, the court “expressed serious doubts about its legality and deems it unjustified in terms of proving consumer information.”
Labelling legislation to avoid confusion
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the National Farmers’ Union said: “Farmers have long called for clear, unambiguous labelling to help shoppers understand where products have come from and make informed decisions on the food they buy.
“We would like to see labelling legislation revised to further protect traditional meat terms. All food products have specific ingredients and their own nutritional properties. This is why using the same term for products in different food categories should be avoided.”
Although meat lobbyists typically claim they want to help consumers avoid confusion, research indicates that consumers aren’t confused by meat terms on plant-based products.
A 2021 study by Cornell University showed that participants were not confused by meaty terms on plant-based products. In fact, the researchers concluded that omitting these words “causes consumers to be significantly more confused about the taste and uses of these products.”
Threatened and desperate
Responding to the claims, a spokesperson for The Vegan Society said: “As consumers are increasingly moving away from eating animals, the demand for vegan products is growing. There’s no denying that those in the animal farming and meat industries are feeling threatened by this and desperately trying to restrict the marketing of vegan products.
“These terms explain to people the context in which the plant-based food item can be eaten or prepared.”
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