Sorry, but bangers and burgers belong to vegans and vegetarians too | Barbara Ellen

The EU should thwart the meat industry trying to ban certain labels on veggie products

The meat lobby may be powerful, but is it entitled to cultural ownership of the burger? The European parliament is to vote on whether to ban terms such as veggie burger and veggie sausage, as well as “cheese-like” and “yoghurt-style” for plant-based alternatives to dairy products. The meat industry complains of “cultural hijacking” by vegetarian/vegan products leading to consumer confusion and proposes that “names currently used for meat products shall be reserved exclusively for products containing meat (including) steak, sausage, escalope and burger”. This includes chicken and there’s already a ban on plant-based products being labelled “milk”. One suggestion is for plant-based sausages and burgers to be called “tubes” and “discs”. As in: “I must remember to pick up some Linda McCartney tubes later.” Yummy!

This shows how rattled the meat industry is by the popularity of vegetarian/vegan food. It fails to understand that people eschew meat products for complex reasons (animal welfare, environment, health) and are unlikely to suffer from “consumer confusion”. Sure, I’m a lifelong vegetarian and have an axe to grind, but still, I’ve never accidentally bought meat. In 2019, the House of Lords select committee heard that fewer than 4% of people had mistakenly purchased a vegetarian product.

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