After the Vegan Society warned that a potential EU ban on the use of names such as ‘burger’ and ‘sausage’ for meat free foods would financially impact the public sector, a campaign has been launched to challenge the move.
The society warned that such a move would result in excessive administrative burdens to all public entities, highlighting that the proposed measures will not only impact vegans, but also public authorities that currently serve vegan food, such as Government departments, health providers, education establishments, police forces and prisons.
The Vegan Society has legally challenged the plans in a formal letter to EU officials, signed by its CEO and prepared by a legal expert, on the grounds of breaching fundamental human rights of vegans that are set out by the union. The letter states the proposed measures contravene the EU consumers’ right to be informed adequately as to how goods can be used and denies the vegan community the benefits offered by EU law on clear labelling. If the proposals are voted into effect next month, vegan and veggie burgers could become ‘discs’, and sausages ‘tubes’ among other products.
George Gill, CEO at The Vegan Society, who signed the letter, explained: “As consumers are increasingly moving away from eating animals, the demand for vegan products is growing. There’s no denying that meat, dairy and
egg industries are feeling threatened by this and desperately trying to restrict the marketing of vegan products.
“These proposals have little to do with consumer protection and instead are motivated by economic concerns of the meat industry. We are calling on EU officials to reject these irrational measures for vegan meat alternatives to be banned from using the qualified conventional terms everyone has been using for decades.”
The 14-page letter includes an appendix with over 100 examples of plant-based food descriptors being used in the public and private sectors, suggesting many institutions would be affected.
In the most recent development, awareness organisation, ProVeg International, announced the launch of a campaign targeting the proposed ban with a petition calling on the soon-to-be-elected European Parliament to reject the proposal, which it describes as unnecessary and irrational.
ProVeg UK Spokesperson, Philip Mansbridge, explained: “There is no evidence to suggest that consumers are confused or misled by the current labelling of vegetarian and vegan products. To suggest that consumers do not understand the meaning of the term ‘veggie burger’ and other similar terms is an insult to their intelligence.
“The use of ‘burger’, ‘sausage’, and ‘milk’ wording on plant-based products actually serves an important function in communicating characteristics that consumers are looking for when buying plant-based products, especially in terms of taste and texture. They’ve been used successfully for decades. Why confuse matters?
“The proposed restriction would also unnecessarily restrict manufacturers, producers, and the positive social and environmental changes created by the plant-based market, one of the fastest-growing and most innovative sectors in the food industry today.”