The labeling fight between real meat and fake meat is far from over.

By Adam Campbell-Schmitt
Updated April 08, 2019
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We’re entering a golden age for meat lovers who aren’t in love with the idea of eating meat. Beyond the common animal rights criticisms lodged against beer, pork, and poultry, more diners are becoming him to the environmental and physical health tolls their carnivorous cravings are taking. While we’re still waiting for lab-grown meat to make its way into the marketplace, right now there are a bevy of plant-based burgers and other meat products available to consumers who want the taste and texture of products like ground beef while avoiding the oft-maligned veggie burger patty (which, to be fair, can be a wonderful things as these recipes prove).

But exactly what to call plant-based “meat” has been a bubbling argument between producers of that product and producers of real meat. Similarly, the dairy industry isn’t all too happy about beverages made from almonds and oats masquerading as milk. The claim is that consumers will be confused as to what they’re buying. If you didn’t know what an Impossible Burger was, and you ordered one up at White Castle or Burger King, would it be clear to you it wasn’t beef?

Ahead of the game on both vegetarian dining and labeling legislation in a few respects, the European Union may once again be the place to look for a bellwether on how this issue may play out in the United States. In 2017, a European court ruled that dairy terms like yogurt and butter could only apply to animal milk products, not items made with substitutes such as soy. The latest development targets burgers, and whether that word solely connotes a meat product.

As reported by The Guardian, this week agriculture committee of the European Union’s parliament approved legislation calling for a ban on the use of the word “burger” when in reference to veggie patties, preferring a more generic (and unappetizing) term like “discs” instead. Burgers aren’t the only item on the renaming list. Any vegan or vegetarian meat-shaped product, be it sausages, bacon, or steaks, would have to find a new descriptor to be sold under. The proposed ban will next go up for a vote by the full European Parliament after elections are held in May.