In France, Vegan Brands Barred from Using Terms “Steak” or “Chicken”
More brands than ever have released vegan variations of conventional meat products including beef, chicken, and even seafood. But in France, a new ban is making it more difficult to communicate what these plant-based proteins taste like. The country just passed a historic ban on using meat-associated names including “steak,” “sausage,” and others for plant-based brands. The law is supported by the French meat industry in an effort to protect the advertising property of French meat and dairy brands, but the plant-based industry views this new ban as a tremendous step backward.
Published on June 30, the new decree will officially ban the use of meat-related terms for plant-based food products this October. France will become the first country in the European Union to enact a restriction to this extent. While some terms including “burger” will still be available to vegan brands, several other brands such as “bacon” or “chicken” will be reserved exclusively for animal-based products.
"It will not be possible to use sector-specific terminology traditionally associated with meat and fish to designate products that do not belong to the animal world and which, in essence, are not comparable," the official decree states.
The ban is exclusively restrictive to French producers, meaning that retailers and foodservice providers can still purchase imported plant-based foods using these terms. This restriction is set to impede the plant-based sectors' economic development. Some companies including the famed vegan bacon startup La Vie have released statements against the new ban.
“You won’t see anything more delusional today,” CEO of La Vie Nicolas Schweitzer posted on social media. “After pushing for the reindustrialization of France, the government has just passed a decree pushing us to relocate.”
The French ban is reminiscent of a similar ban proposed for the entire European Union in 2020. The EU ban was rejected but lobbyists for the French meat and dairy industries pushed the legislation to go through within France. Climate and plant-based activists view fear that the ban will worsen the environmental damages coming from the food industry.
“When those responsible for one-fifth of all GHGs globally are allowed by governments to increase their share of emissions, pollution, land, water, and animal use, by actively making it harder for consumers to make informed and lower-carbon choices.” Vice President of ProVeg International Jasmijn de Boo said.“We need to ask our politicians some tough questions. The fossil fuel industry needs to be reformed, and so does the meat, dairy, egg, and seafood industries.”
France’s Plant-Based Developments
France’s plant-based industry is rapidly growing, but companies including La Vie have announced intentions to relocate due to the ban. La Vie recently received an endorsement from vegan actress Natalie Portman, who helped the company secure a $28.3 million investment package this January. The new branding ban will cut France off from the growing plant-based protein market, which is currently expected to rise 451 percent by 2030.
Last July, the French Environmental Minister Barbara Pompili advocated against meat-heavy diets, contrary to the typical French diet. The minister claimed that promoting plant-based foods will improve the environmental and personal health of France and the world. The statement accompanied plans to cut meat from school lunch menus at least once a week, according to The Guardian.
Vegan Labeling in the United States
In contrast to France’s ban, Miyoko’s Creamery won a lawsuit against the California Department of Food and Agriculture, allowing vegan brands to use “butter” and “dairy” on plant-based products. The lawsuit set the precedent protecting plant-based brands and permitting the usage of meat-related terms for the plant-based alternatives.
With support from the animal agriculture giants, the CDFA attempted to restrict animal-related terminology from plant-based packaging, but Miyoko’s sued with the help of the Animal Legal Defense Fund to argue that its products were clearly labeled “made with plants,” eradicating any consumer confusion possible. This victory will help Miyoko’s and other plant-based brands continue to cater to all Americans.
“The CDFA’s attempt to censor Miyoko’s from accurately describing its products and providing context for their use is a blatant example of agency capture,” ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells said. “The fact that animal-milk producers fear plant-based competition does not give state agencies the authority to restrict one industry to help another.”
For more plant-based happenings, visit The Beet's News articles.