Saying it was “cultural hijacking,” European farmers believe we have a misleading vegan names problem. They would prefer that veggie burgers and Quorn sausage become veggie discs and Quorn tubes.
Responding last week, the European Parliament said, “No.”
Vegan Names Regulation
In 2017, the European Court of Justice declared it illegal to have a label that said tofu butter or veggie cheese. Then, a year later, France said meat terms could not describe non-meat products.
Last week, the European Parliament moved in the opposite direction. Saying that burger, steak, sausage, and escallop could apply to plant-based food, they agreed with a 2020 survey from the European Consumer Organization.
Among the 11,000 (or so) consumers from 11 EU nations that took a food attitudes survey, just 25 percent wanted the name ban. Meanwhile, 42 percent said clearly labeled vegetarian products were okay.
This was #9 from the 10 question food attitudes survey:
What is happening in the EU is happening here. In the U.S., dairy farmers have said that almond milk is not milk. Poultry producers are disturbed with Tofurkey. And we have the meat people wishing that a Beyond Burger could be called a “pea protein patty.”
As of April 2019, a slew of states had some answers. Missouri said meat could refer only to food from slaughtered animals. North and South Dakota, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Mississippi soon followed with similar legislation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is still deciding.
Our Bottom Line: Reference Points
Supporters of retaining the traditional terms burger and sausage for plant-based products perceive no problem. A behavioral economist might say that they want a reference point for diners.
Reference points let decision makers relate their thinking to something that is familiar. Whereas reference dependence usually relates to assessing a loss or a gain in a new situation through familiar information, I believe a broader interpretation takes us to vegan names. Vegan enthusiasts want us to know that we lose nothing from ordering a veggie burger because it is (almost) the same as a Big Mac or any other hamburger.
Doesn’t a veggie disc create a completely different image?
My sources and more: The NY Times has the facts about the EU decision and a background link. But this report of consumer sustainable food attitudes was much more interesting. It reminded of this Canadian Café and the USDA debate.
Please note that our featured image is a Quorn vegetarian sausage, and today, we included several sentences from a previously published econlife post.