Imagine you can't find your favorite plant-based milk at the grocery store. You ask an employee for help and say, "Where can I find the oat drink?" Nothing about that sounds natural (even if the nondairy milk is). Oat drink would have been the new normal in Virginia if the bill to ban the word milk on nondairy products was put into effect.

Governor Northam's Decision

Plant-based milk continues to grow in popularity and dairy farmers are taking a significant hit. Back in January, Virginia dairy farmers supported a bill to ban companies from calling nondairy products milk. The dairy industry believes that plant-based milk is "misbranded." The bill defined milk as, "the lacteal secretion..obtained by the complete milking of a healthy hooved mammal." Nondairy milk would have to be referred to as a drink or beverage instead. The House of Delegates passed this bill, but at the end of the day, Governor Northam vetoed it.

Out of over 40 bills, Northam was to sign that day, the "Milk Bill", as some called it, was the only one he would veto. According to Northam, the reasoning behind his decision: "Eliminating the ability to label certain food products with the term “milk” could hinder some businesses’ ability to thrive in Virginia."

Avoiding Customer Confusion

Plant-based milk has been around for a while and it isn't going anywhere. Renaming nondairy milk would lead to consumer confusion and annoyance. Stumbling upon "Oat Drink" in the refrigerated section would lead many to question its likeness to oat milk or believe the product is branded incorrectly. More and more states are dealing with similar battles between the dairy and meat industries against the plant-based industry. The meat and dairy industries are in for a rude awakening as the plant-based market continues to thrive and consumers pursue a healthier life. Learn more about plant-based legal battles that affect consumers on the digital show, Laws That Matter on the Jane UnChained News Network.

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