Veggie burgers, vegan meats? The ruling of the European Parliament paved the way for meat substitutes with meat denominations
Our food system is no longer fit for the 21st century. The ways we grow food and process it are undermining our health, and are not fit to meet the needs of a growing global population. Cellular agriculture and plant-based alternatives are on the rise. The production of lab-grown meat is gaining momentum and attracts investors. Plantbased diets are gaining importance both for health- and environment-conscious consumers and from sustainability point of view. Demand for plant-based protein products is rapidly expanding beyond just burger analogues to new and novel products in several countries. Alternative meat products, such as ‘vegan burgers’, ‘soy meat’, ‘tofu sausage’ and others continue to evolve. There has been an intense dispute about names of meat substitute products in the European Union. The question was whether designations like “veggie burgers” or “soy sausages” were misleading. The European Parliament decided recently, that plant-based food products should be allowed to carry names which have traditionally been used for meat of animal origin. However, for the European Parliament, “meat” can be vegetable, milk cannot. Purely plant-based products cannot, in principle, be marketed with designations such as ‘milk’, ‘cream’, ‘butter’, ‘cheese’ or ‘yoghurt’, which are reserved by EU law for animal products. Hungarian, German, Spanish etc. consumers are traditionally meat-eaters. Eating meat and meat products is part of these countries’ culture. Taken the traditional approach of these consumers to food and the role of meat in their food and gastronomic culture, it is doubtful whether the recent decision of the European Parliament would not result in confusion once an „impossible burger” would be put on their plate.
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