Another absurd attack on plant-based food manufacturers

Posted on the 6th September 2023

The French government has once again launched an attack on plant-based food producers, attempting to stop them from using labels like ‘plant-based steak’ or ‘vegan ham’.

This ridiculous proposal first reared its head in 2018, when French MPs voted through a bill banning companies from using ‘meat-like words’ to describe vegan and vegetarian products.


Read our thoughts on the proposal at the time

Whilst there were some issues in pushing the law through, it now it appears that these proposals will once again make their way to the French parliament. French agricultural Minister, Marc Fesneau, says that using such labels is misleading. But this is simply not true. There is no evidence to show that consumers pick up meat-free sausages, for example, which clearly state ‘Vegan Sausages’, and think thata the product contains meat.

The meat industry in many countries has long fought to prevent plant-based foods being described using such words, again claiming that consumers find them confusing. The meat industry either thinksconsumers are so unintelligent that they regularly mistake vegan products for meat, or the industry is cynically creating obstacles in an attempt to stifle a growing plant-based market. It is likely the latter.

The reality is that nobody finds vegan food labels which have words like ‘plant-based steak’ confusing or misleading. Instead of bowing to the powerful meat lobby, the French government – and indeed all governments – should embrace vegan food and plant-based eating. It is now undeniable that adopting a plant-based diet is one of the single most effective things an individual can do to reduce their impact upon the planet.


Read more about the environmental benefits of a plant-based diet

The response from French animal rights and pro-vegan groups
Guillaume Hannotin, a lawyer for Proteines France, an organisation representing makers of vegan and vegetarian alternatives, said the term “plant-based steak” had been in use for more than 40 years.

“Do people confuse motor oil, olive oil and jojoba oil? I think not. No more than they confuse vegan steak from beef steak.” – Brigitte Gothière, L214

“[R]ather than attacking words, the government should focus on animal and human suffering as well as the climate crisis and the impact of animal farming.” – Catherine Hélayel, The Animalist Party

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