France bans meat terms for plant-based alternatives

France bans meat terms for plant-based alternatives

Ali Sheehan-Dare
Ali Sheehan-Dare
Jul 4th 2022

The ban will come into effect on October 1 and will only apply to plant-based products manufactured in France. This means that a plant-based steak imported from elsewhere in the European Union could sit side-by-side on French supermarket shelves with a similar French-made product that will have to bear a different name.

The French meat lobby is aware that, as it stands, the ban does little to save people from confusion and wants to see it extended to imported plant-based foods too, with an eye to it going European-wide. In October 2020, the European Union voted not to impose such a ban on meat substitutes, but did follow France in forbidding dairy terms for dairy alternatives such as soy milk. The possibility thus remains that all European produced plant-based foods would be subject to such censorship in future.

Of course, the confusion of the customer was not really the concern of the meat lobby that pushed so hard for this ban in the first place. The ultimate point of plant-based steaks, sausages, milks, and cheeses is not for them to be a totally different product from the ‘real’ thing, but to displace it. Otherwise their full benefits for the planet and farmed animals will never be realised. Forcing them to be named in unfamiliar ways - with potentially no consistency between different brands - is a strategy to make them less accessible to people. This, as critics and policy analysts have argued, is about trying to hobble the competition.

Everywhere one looks there is aggressive pushback from the meat and dairy industries against the rise of plant-based foods. South Africa pipped France to the post on a similar ban by days, while The National Part of Australia is lobbying for one too. Meat lobby marketing campaigns have also sprung up to discredit plant-based alternatives.

If anything, the meat lobby’s real worry is that customers will increasingly choose to opt for plant-based versions instead of animal-based ones, in full awareness of what they are doing - and why.

Ali Sheehan-Dare

Ali Sheehan-Dare

Co-founder of Planty

Co-founder of Planty. Science lover. Tech enthusiast. Fan of plant-based food. Fascinated by how eating more plants can positively impact the world we live in.

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