Fighting to get the name "milk" off of dairy-alternatives like almond milk and oat milk is just one example of a powerplay that meat and dairy special interests have initiated in the last year. Now, finally, they'll have some stiff competition when it comes to pushing through laws like this in a powerhouse state: California.

The plant-based consumer and business lobbying group, California Plant Based Alliance (CPBA), formed this week in Sacramento. CPBA is the first-ever state-level political advocacy group to protect the rights of plant-based businesses and consumers. CPBA is perhaps best summed up in its tagline which reads “safeguarding the plant-based industries' equal opportunity to succeed.” 

First, Cruelty-Free Cosmetics, Now Plant-Based Foods

Founded by Judie Mancuso, who is best-known for helping California become the first state to ban cosmetic testing on animals, through her organization Social Compassion in Legislation, CPBA is  on a mission to make California the leading state to protect and advocate for plant-based and vegan products and consumers. “What we found when advancing and passing plant-based bills in the Capitol, is that the plant-based industry does not have a voice such as the various segments of the animal agriculture industry,” says Mancuso. “We will amplify the burgeoning plant-based industry’s voice in the Capitol to gain equal access to the marketplace and fair regulation. I felt the industry deserved its own special interest group and that is why I decided to create the Alliance.”

The CBPA’s formation follows on the heels of a federal lobbying group, the Plant Based Food Association (PBFA), which formed in 2016 and has over 160 company members working and has been lobbying Congress to shift policy toward plant-based foods including school lunch programs which have been highly influenced by the dairy and meat industry. With California being the fifth largest economy in the world—and home to plant-based private-company heavyweights like Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, Miyoko’s Creamery and more—CBPA is well-positioned to make an impact. California has also proven to be a breeding ground for progressive legislation and policy that often acts as a catalyst for change in other states and at the federal level.

California is Leading the Country in Plant-Based Legislation

Senator Nancy Skinner’s (D-Berkeley) who has sponsored plant-based bills in the past says the time is now to build momentum around consumer and business consciousness. “We’ve seen California lead the way time and time again in establishing policies and programs to promote sustainability, and we’re able to accomplish these goals because there is a growing demand for accountability and especially for the reduction of our impact on the environment,” said Assemblymember Kalra in a CPBA press release announcing the groups launch. 

Another CPBA backer—and also CPBA board member—is Nic Adler, a strong voice in the vegan/plant-based food movement. Adler is the Culinary Director of Coachella and the VP of Regional Festivals of Goldenvoice and creator of the food festival Eat Drink Vegan, and a restaurateur behind multiple plant-based restaurants in the Los Angeles area. “There has been a huge cultural shift toward plant-based eating and it's time that our legislation caught up with consumers,” says Adler. “Currently, no official legislative protections exist for plant-based food producers or consumers, and the California Plant-Based Alliance is determined to provide a voice for this movement as it continues to become mainstream.” 

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