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France’s ban of faux-meat branding won’t stop veganism

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France has banned the use of terms traditionally associated with meat in describing vegetarian or vegan products, no matter how clear the branding or description. So long, seitan steaks…hello, barbecued seitan slabs.

In a petty jab at veganism, using words like “steak”, “sausage” and “burger” to market food free of animal-products will now land producers a hefty fine as the government seems to believe these product names are misleading consumers. God forbid a non-vegan accidentally purchase something other than an animals carcass! Following the lead of the European Court of Justice ruling which banned nut and soy milk producers in the EU from using the word “milk” in their branding, vegan food producers in France will now have to rebrand or else they’re on the hook for €300,000.

I’d love to meet the companies who are supposedly trying to trick consumers into believing their products are meat instead of vegan as much as I’d like to meet the supposed meat-eating humans who buy products literally labeled as “meat-free” and genuinely believe they’re about to eat pork.

And speaking of pork, is France going to ban that word from being used to describe the carcass of a pig? After all, the goal is transparency right? I presume since the French government is now so concerned with food companies misleading consumers with their branding, we’ll soon see a bill outlawing the use of terms like “humane” and “ethical” on animal products. And another bill banning the use of easier-to-digest terms like “beef”, “steak” or “hot dog” to describe animals.

French MP, Jean-Baptiste Moreau, who tabled the bill in the first place tweeted that “it is important to combat false claims. Our products must be designated correctly: the terms of cheese or steak will be reserved for products of animal origin.” Reminiscent of a schoolyard fight in which a child doesn’t know how to share, France’s dairy and meat manufacturers don’t want those pesky vegans using their words! Fine, France, you can keep your words, vegans will just have to get a little more creative.

Outlawing the use of words like “milk” and “fillet” in vegan products implies that there’s no alternatives to dairy milk or meat fillets despite the fact that both words are not exclusively defined history or presently as animal products. Although the rest of the word is adapting to the growth and change of language, France chooses to remain behind. But their attempt to hinder veganism is poor. Vegan products will rebrand, and inevitably, like all language, we’ll develop new terms for common products that are not traditionally meat-related.

It’s clear that this has far less to do with transparency and a lot more to do with rejecting veganism. Given the widespread applause from meat producers and dairy farmers, it’s visible that the animal agriculture industry feels threatened by the rise in veganism and expansion of vegan lines and products in Europe.

No matter how petty the bill, if the vegans of France must now eat “soy product” in place of “soy sausage”, so be it. I’ll take “mycoproteinous food tube” over a tube of dead pig any day.

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  • “I presume since the French government is now so concerned with food companies misleading consumers with their branding, we’ll soon see a bill outlawing the use of terms like “humane” and “ethical” on animal products.” That would be awesome! I’d love to see an AR-focused legal group do exactly that. I’ve seen DxE, for example, focusing their protests on the labelling at Whole Foods, but it seems like it would be far more effective to launch a legal challenge over the labelling.

  • Louis

    I am a flexitarian from France, and I really agree with your point of view. Very disappointed with the politics in my country once more, and with the sacredness of their eating habits!

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