Mississippi has banned plant-based products from being called “veggie burger” or “vegan hot dog.
Turns out, it’s actually the meat which gives a hot dog or burger its name, at least in Mississippi. The state lawmakers don’t like to see herbivores joining in the barbecue fun.
So they thought the best way to keep them away was to criminalize labeling meatless foods “vegan hot dog” or “veggie burger” in grocery stores and everywhere else.
When the bill was passed in the House in January this year, Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation President Mike McCormick said: “This bill will protect our cattle farmers from having to compete with products not harvested from an animal.”
The supporters of the bill said it will rule out the confusion which shoppers face while searching for vegan products as the two terms will be then reserved for slaughtered animals.
Critics claim that it’s just an attempt from meat providers to reduce the tremendously increasing popularity of plant-based meat alternatives.
The executive director of the Plant-Based Foods Association, Michele Simon, said: “The plant-based meat alternative category is on fire right now, with consumers demanding healthier and more sustainable options. This law, along with similar laws in several other states, is the meat lobby’s response.”
Meat-alternative producers, however, aren’t sitting back. A lawsuit has been filed, which says that the label of “vegan” is enough to clear up any confusion for the customers.
Jessica Almy, director of policy at the plant-based food producer Good Food Institute, said: “There is no evidence that consumers are confused by plant-based bacon or veggie burger labels, and federal laws are already in place that prohibits consumer deception. This law is a tremendous overstep of state powers.”
After Mississippi, several states have followed suit to fend off the rising market of plant-based alternatives.
For instance, courts in California said that “almond milk” and “soy milk” can confuse people who are searching for milk and can’t consume dairy products.
The US District Court for the Northern District of California said: “The crux of the claims is that a reasonable consumer might confuse plant-based beverages such as soy milk or almond milk for dairy milk, because of the use of the word ‘milk.’
“The claim stretches the bounds of credulity. Under Plaintiffs’ logic, a reasonable consumer might also believe that veggie bacon contains pork, that flourless chocolate cake contains flour, or that e-books are made out of paper.”
Customers aren’t confused, however.
Ginger Hultin, MS, RD says: “Just because a burger isn’t made from beef doesn’t mean that it’s not a patty of some sort on a bun.
“With all the evidence that plant-based foods including beans, lentils, nuts, seeds and soy foods are healthful and reduce incidence of chronic disease, from a public health perspective, it makes sense to promote these products.
“As a dietitian, I often suggest using these plant-based burgers as they are great alternatives to meat for those who want to try them.”
The debate about getting rid of terms like “burger,” “hot dog,” or “sausage” isn’t going to be dying anytime soon. So make sure to enjoy your “veggie burgers” before it comes knocking at the door of your state.