Vegan burger name row reveals hypocrisy of the meat industry

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In recent years we’ve seen animal agriculture advocates rail against the use of meat and dairy-style names to label vegan products.

EU regulations put in place in late 2013 state that dairy-style names including milk, butter, cheese cream, and yogurt can only be used for products derived from animal milk.

Now the EU’s agricultural committee wants to stop plant-based producers from using words like sausages, burgers, and steaks to name their meat-free products. 

The appeal for new policy comes as the plant-based meat market is skyrocketing. According to some estimates, there are now as many as 22 million ‘flexitarians’ – or meat reducers – in the UK, who are opting to replace some meat-based meals with veggie alternatives.

What’s the rationale of the farmers, food producers, and politicans who would support such a ban?

They claim they don’t want consumers to be misled, arguing that names like veggie disks, tubes, or slabs will make the contents of these meat analogues far clearer for shoppers.

In a twist of sheer hypocrisy, farmers at a recent Australian farming conference opted to use the word ‘process’ to describe killing animals instead of ‘slaughter’.

Delegates at the NSW annual conference passed a motion saying the industry should use the word ‘to the complete exclusion’ of slaughter to improve ‘public image’.

What’s the rationale of the farmers who would support such a change?

They claim they don’t want consumers to link the ‘unfortunate connotations’ of the word slaughter with their products.

According to Southern Highland-based Jack Skipper, who put forward the motion: “The word slaughter is not appropriate for our industry as we are processing animals through the various stages that end up for food.”

The motion itself claims that ditching the word slaughter will take the sting out of the ‘detrimental emotive arguments’  by animal rights activists.

The hypocrisy is clear. Those selling animal foods are more than happy to use euphemistic language – at the expense of transparency – when they think it will benefit them fiscally. 

But when they are worried they may lose ground to others they are not above claiming they care about consumer clarity.

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