Farmers call for ban on naming plant-based foods ‘sausage, bacon or steak’

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Farmers are calling for stronger regulation over what retailers can name plant-based foods.

In particular, they’re calling for a ban on vegan offerings being given the same name as the meat they’re imitating, which would mean an end to the likes of vegan ‘sausages, steaks and bacon’ on shelves.

Accusing vegan food producers of using words associated with meat to boost their sales, they have added that Britain should follow in the footsteps of France, which recently announced it was working towards a ban on such terms when referring to vegetarian or vegan products.

vegan meat products

People want ‘vegan’ meat products to be renamed (Credit: Alamy)

Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, 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.”

Meanwhile, Nellie Nichols, a top food consultant in Britain, who works alongside several retailers, agreed that more honesty was needed when it came to marketing vegan products.

“They should admit it is not the meat product, and not try to pull the wool over consumers eyes,” she explained. “It’s a marketing challenge, and will probably become a legal challenge.

“A clever way to get people get around it is to say something isn’t what you think it is, such as with the brand ‘This’ which sells products including ‘This Isn’t Chicken Plant-Based Pieces.”

vegan meat sausages burgers

Farmers want to keep the distinction between meat and vegan products (Credit: Alamy)

Professor Joshua Bamfield, director of the Centre for Retail Research, also offered her two cents, concurring that you can’t simply “call a product whatever you like, irrespective of what’s inside”.

She even likened the level of deception to saying a product was made in France, when it was actually made in Wales.

However, in response, 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.”

The sale of meat-free products reach £1.1 billion last year, so it’s understandable why people want distinctions to be made.

But is there really anything wrong with a soya sausage calling itself a sausage, as long as the packaging also makes clear that it’s vegan?

vegan sausage plant based

Surely this isn’t gonna deceive anyone? (Credit: Alamy)

When France became the first European country to bring in such legislation, it was met with a very mixed response.

Whilst many in the French meat industry were pleased with the decision, meanwhile, many in the plant-based world objected.

“You won’t see anything more delusional today,” wrote Nicolas Schweitzer, the CEO of a plant-based “facon” company named La Vie.

Meanwhile, the the National Plant Food Observatory (ONAV) in France dubbed the move nothing more than an “extended protection of the economic interests of the meat sector”.

South Africa’s government also passed a very similar ban not long before France.

As for whether the Britain will ever follow suit? The jury is still out…