There’s good news for European vege- and flexitarians! Instead of having to order and shop for veggie “discs” and “tubes” they can order veggie burgers and sausages.
The European Parliament today rejected a proposal from the EU agriculture committee submitted last year to ban the use of meat labels like “burger” and “sausage” on similar plant-based substitutes. Proponents of the legislation believed that terms like “burger” on veggie products would cause confusion in the marketplace. Thankfully, common sense prevailed and you don’t have to shop for plant-based “pucks.”
We’re having our own labeling fight here in the U.S., where a number of states have put forward their own legislation banning plant-based products from using terms like burger and meat. Mississippi, one of the states advancing the restrictive re-naming agenda, wound up easing its policies, allowing terms like “veggie burger” to be used.
Big Meat trying to quash alterna-meats’ popularity by telling companies how they can or can’t label themselves feels protectionist and ineffective, not to mention desperate, at this point. After all, the flexitarian movement is gaining strength not because consumers are unclear about whether the burgers they’re buying are made from plants or beef; rather, it’s bolstered by growing environmental and ethical concerns, health reasons, or because meatless meat is a media darling.
Since the time of that writing, the pandemic sparked a surge in sales of plant-based meat, and illuminated the ethical and logistical shortcomings of our existing traditional meat processing infrastructure. And with companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat rapidly expanding their retail presence across the country, the innovation and mainstreaming of plant-based burgers and hot dogs could quickly outpace any legislation aiming to curb it.
That doesn’t mean existing entities won’t try to inhibit plant-based alternatives. It wasn’t all good labeling news in Europe today. While you can order veggie burgers, the EU Parliament also imposed stricter rules for dairy substitutes, saying even the terms such as “milk-like” cannot be used on dairy-free products.