A woman shopping for cheese in the dairy section of a supermarket A new lawsuit aims to put an end to the issue - Media Credit: Adobe Stock

Turkey Banned All Vegan Dairy Products That ‘Give The Impression Of Cheese’

It's the latest blow to vegan food producers offering plant-based alternatives to dairy


3 Minutes Read

A legislation change in Turkey has outlawed both the production and sale of dairy-free cheese. But the Vegan Association Turkey (TVD) is on a mission to overturn the ban with a new lawsuit.

Turkey’s blanket ban follows censorship mandates that already prevent plant-based brands from using the term “cheese” on their packaging. 

The first word of the impending legal change came in February 2020. According to TVD, the Turkish Food Codex Regulation was amended to state that “breakfast fermented products (vegan cheese/cheese like) made from plant-based milk were prohibited.”

A full ban has now been implemented, following a Turkish Food Codex update in February of this year. Domestic producers are no longer selling vegan cheese and manufacturing facilities are now subject to inspections.

Turkey joins the EU, France, and South Africa in implementing prohibitive plant-based food legislation. Although, Turkey is the only country to actually ban elements of its production.

What does Turkey’s vegan cheese ban mean?

Plant-based cheese products must not mimic traditional cheese under the new policy. This includes appearance and marketing styles.

However, legislation wording has been deemed unclear by TVD.

The nonprofit said: “The fact that the necessary clarification has not been made even about the similarity criteria, which is the basis of the said ban, creates an open-ended area of pressure and action for the inspectors/punishers operating in this field.”

TVD has reportedly spoken with the government’s Department of Food and Codex. The discussion also brought into question the validity of products sold in packaging styles similar to that of dairy cheese.

Can TVD overturn the plant-based cheese ban?

The vegan association has now launched legal action to invalidate the dairy-free cheese ban in Turkey. Its case rests on the notions of protecting consumers’ rights to choice and ensuring profitable domestic manufacturing and trade.

“We are determined to use all solutions to the fullest against these obscure prohibitions, which are far from being convincing for producers and consumers and have been created on some unfair grounds,” TVD said in a statement.

The lawsuit directly targets the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. It runs alongside another legal battle with the Turkish Council of Higher Education. (On the latter, TVD aims to see plant-based meals offered at all 205 of the country’s universities.)

Dismay at the growing trend of plant-based censorship

Food awareness charity ProVeg International has denounced what it calls “draconian” plant-based food laws. It considers them counterintuitive, given the importance of meat-free foods in the fight against the climate crisis, and is concerned about the growing number of new legislations.

“Plant-based foods are a vital key to solving the climate crisis as well as ensuring economic growth. Many meat and dairy companies themselves know this, which is why they are investing in both plant-based and animal-based foods, and in some cases, switching to plant-based foods entirely,” said Jasmijn de Boo, vice president of ProVeg.

ProVeg is no stranger to taking on conventional dairy. The organization is currently campaigning to have plant-based milk options added to EU school menus. 

Its petition, which now has more than 59,000 signatures, addresses the environmental benefits of plant-based milk compared to traditional dairy. The latter generates three times more emissions than popular animal-free alternatives.

Animal rights concerns also plague the dairy sector. However, the plight of cows is being heard by more people. After learning about the cruel process of milk production, Miriam Margolyes is working with Animal Equality UK to call for an end to dairy farming.

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The Author

Amy Buxton

Amy enjoys reporting on vegan news and sustainability initiatives. She has a degree in English literature and language and is raising a next-gen vegan daughter.

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Justin Kent
Justin Kent
18 days ago

This news would be laughable if it weren’t so backwards and alarming! Thank you for shining the light on this terrible policy, which common sense will hopefully soon replace.

12 days ago
Reply to  Justin Kent

Common sense from a government bought by the meat and dairy industry? I don’t think so.

Rit a Scarborough
Rit a Scarborough
16 days ago

Why are they naming non dairy cheese alternatives in the first place?

12 days ago

why shouldn’t they?

15 days ago


12 days ago
Reply to  Alexandra

It’s beyond disgusting, certainly proves that governments have been bought off by the neat and dairy industry.

13 days ago

Just change the name to ‘plesse’.

12 days ago

I really like the idea of properly labelling the vegan stuff, because it’s easy to confuse it with actual cheese in terms of packaging. And unfortunately, some of the vegan copy products contain incredible amounts of chemicals. So by accident you might buy a chemical-laden copy product instead of actual cheese.

But a blanket ban is something I don’t understand. There are many cheese alternatives that are more or less healthy in terms of ingredients, aside from the usually high fat content and low protein content (but if you see it as convenience food, it’s fine).

Plant Based News Admin
Plant Based News Admin
12 days ago
Reply to  Holger

Hi Holger, what do you mean by ‘chemicals’? You are breathing in chemicals right this very moment.

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