A selection of plant-based meats in a supermarket Plant-based meats cold be cleared from shelves from next Monday - Media Credit: Adobe Stock

Why South Africa’s Planned Seizures Of Plant-Based Meat Have Been Stopped (For Now)

Plant-based products with meat-related names were set to disappear from supermarkets in South Africa

By and

3 Minutes Read

South Africa’s Food Safety Agency (FSA) plans to start confiscating plant-based meat products have been halted by a Johannesburg High Court order.

Vegan products with meat-related descriptors (such as “meatball,” “sausage,” or “biltong”) were set to be seized on Monday, August 22 following the Department of Agriculture Land Reform and Rural Development’s (DALRRD) recent ban.

However, an 11th-hour reprieve was granted by the High Court on August 20, prohibiting either the DALRRD or the FSA from removing any items from shelves.

Plant-based advocates welcomed the suspension, but remain cautious that seizures could recommence at any time.

Vegan organizations and brands speak out 

Food awareness organization ProVeg South Africa played an instrumental role in trying to get the plant-based meat ban lifted.

“Although we welcome the decision by the court, we would like to reiterate our call for further dialogue as we still believe that this matter should be settled through discussion between the plant-based food industry, DALLRD, and the meat industry,” ProVeg country director Donovan Will said in a statement.

“ProVeg South Africa carries the interests of both plant-based manufacturers and consumers and will continue to be a public voice for both. We urge the government to fast-track the development of new regulations without any punitive measures on the plant-based sector in the interim.”

Fry Family Food (known widely as Fry’s) also stood up to the ban when it launched an objection in July. It maintained that, because of the objection, its products could not be confiscated. The brand argued that the department would instead have to “convene a tribunal to evaluate our objection.”

The Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (CGCSA) said that it was “aware of the directive issued by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development” to “seize meat analog products using product names prescribed for processed meat products.”

It added that meat analogs are not currently covered by current legislation. They are “also excluded from the scope of processed meat regulations.”

South African-based Garth Tavares, known as Cape Town Vegan, told Plant Based News that the decision to seize the vegan meat feels like a “witch-hunt against the plant-based and vegan sectors.”

He added: “I have absolute faith in the vegan community and their ability to stand up to the meat and dairy ‘giants’. Seeing how deeply this will affect an already decimated economy is incredibly shortsighted.”

The rise of plant-based meat 

Vegan meat substitutes have seen a staggering rise in popularity over the last few years. 

Globally, total consumption grew from 133 million kilograms in 2013 to 470 million kilograms in 2020.

Many meat producers maintain that labeling these products with “meat” terms is confusing for consumers. But plant-based brands state the opposite.

Fry’s marketing director Tammy Fry said earlier this year: “Our product descriptions play an important role in helping our consumers understand how to use our products.”

Plant-based meat is widely acknowledged by experts as more sustainable than its animal-based counterpart. A recent University of Oxford study of 57,000 food products, for example, suggested that veggie sausages and burgers are up to 10 times better for the planet than meat. 

Animal agriculture drives deforestation. Plus according to the United Nations, it is responsible for 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. 

The campaign against plant-based meat labels

South Africa isn’t the first place to attempt to crack down on plant-based meat. 

In 2020, the EU ruled that plant-based companies could label their products with terms like “burger” or “sausage.” This was after some animal agriculturists and meat producers brought forth a measure aiming to ban them from doing so. 

In November of last year, Spain rejected proposals to ban such labels after a campaign from a far-right group. 

Like South Africa, France also voted to ban plant-based brands from using “meat” words earlier this year. However, the ban was temporarily overturned by the country’s highest court. 

This article was originally published on August 18, 2022. It was updated on August 23 to reflect new developments.

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The Author

Polly Foreman

Polly is the Deputy Editor of Plant Based News. She has been vegan since 2014, and has written extensively on veganism, animal rights, and the environment.

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Ben
Ben
1 month ago

I always thought vegans loved the idea of a nanny state. Hence why most vegans vote democrat in the US. I guess the nanny state can backfire.

Sovilace
Sovilace
1 month ago
Reply to  Ben

You’re blind.
I don’t take sides, meaning I don’t vote.
I have friends that are dem and work and worked as rep. Red, blue, green, yellow…it doesn’t matter because all politicians are there for money. That’s all it’s ever been about.

Han
Han
1 month ago
Reply to  Ben

You know we don’t have dems in South Africa right? We don’t have a two party system at all, so we don’t have the same left-right split here (though of course people can and do disagree about politics). Since we have mutliple parties the spectrum is more complicated than that. Moreover veganism is pretty much apolitical here, it isn’t really associated with any specific party or political group. Broaden your horizons man, not everywhere is like the US and we vegans are not a monolith.

As a South Afircan I can tell you there’s a very good chance this is simply the result of lobbying by the much more wealthy meat industry, probably with some bribery thrown in for good measure. Considering how many people in this country are living below the bread line, destroying perfectly good food because of this is truly unethical and stupid. They just wanna make it harder to market these products so less people try them, and also this seizure will bump up the prices so that the average South Afircan can’t buy it.

I have no idea why disliking animal killing means I want a “nanny state” in your eyes, but I can assure you that’s not true. I just want the right to buy whatever kind of burger I want, and you can do the same.

Charl Folscher
Charl Folscher
1 month ago

Stupid idiots.

James
James
1 month ago

Given fake meat is both less healthy and more environmentally damaging than real meat if you don’t deliberately fudge the numbers (ie ignore the basic premises of why co2 causes global warming the buring of million year old carbon stores) then there is a good reason to crack down on the industry which trives on greenwashing and the wrong headed assumption that plants are still healthy after heavy industrial processing.

Plant Based News Admin
Editor
Plant Based News Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  James

Could you provide evidence to back up your claims that plant-based meat is less healthy and more environmentally damaging?

Stephen
Stephen
1 month ago

No, it can’t 👍

M S
M S
1 month ago

Of course he can’t. Words are easy, but without evidence they mean nothing.

Maroc
Maroc
1 month ago

No, James won’t provide any evidence to back up their claim because there isn’t any. James is
just straight up lying, like most of the opposition seems to do nowadays.

Earthling
1 month ago

Plant based meat is less healthy for us- since it is basically processed food. If you check the ingredients list on any of the fake meat and dairy substitutes, it reads like unhealthy processed junk meat that I would never put in my body.

I have attended macrobiotic cooking classes and the teachers seemed to claim the same.

So I am not sure about the environmental claims James is making but I do agree with him about the health aspect.

Unprocessed whole foods – vegetables, nuts and grains are good for human health and environmental health.

The fake meats- I treat them like junk food, and eat it the way I would a Macdonalds burger. Eat it less than once a week.

Plant Based News Admin
Editor
Plant Based News Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Earthling

If you don’t like plant-based meat you don’t have to eat it, however there isn’t any evidence to suggest that plant-based meat is worse for our health than ‘real’ meat, quite the contrary actually. https://plantbasednews.org/lifestyle/beyond-burgers-healthier-than-meat-study/

Ko park
1 month ago
Reply to  James

You should meat because corona wants you https://www.nature.com/articles/s41430-022-01082-w

Ko park
1 month ago
Reply to  James

That article show how nearly all people killed by corona ate real meat so your life may depend on this. Vegetarian is much more healthy.

Philip
1 month ago

Actually in a perverse kind of way, every ţime they try to ban these products – they raise awareness of the whole issue. No publicity at all is good for these appalling meat companies – but this type of thing just shows how scared they are of change from the plant based sector, and just gives us more ground to fight our case!
Vegania.org.uk

Denise
Denise
1 month ago

Ridiculous! Big bullies!

Enbers
Enbers
1 month ago

So, what happens to that little mighty Chickpea? It is just a lentil… It has no brand.

Chad
Chad
1 month ago

This is beyond weird and incredibly lame

Mbali
Mbali
1 month ago

Mmmmmh… There should be a free-market for all. Why should other business industries be superior then others. The quest for business market dominance is real, even if it means others are left with no bread to feed and left with no bread to feed their workers. These plant-based meat alternative companies hire so many people in South-Africa and contribute significantly to the economy, even clearing a portion on shelves in retail stores is damaging. Oh, come speedily 2024…

Prem
Prem
1 month ago

Whats in a name that which we call a rose would smell as sweet by any other name

Shaun
Shaun
1 month ago

So they’re going to confiscate food and waste it because of the name? To which mostly everyone eating it knows it isn’t really meat. What a bizarre line of ethics.

Han
Han
1 month ago
Reply to  Shaun

Yup, in a country where loads or people go hungry everyday, smh

Naga
Naga
1 month ago

Merriam Webster dictionary has animal flesh only as a third meaning for “Meat”.
Primary definition is :
FOOD
especially : solid food as distinguished 
from drink.

2  the edible part of something as distinguished from its covering (such as a husk or shell)

Go to the dictionary and see for yourself!!!

Rebelwave
Rebelwave
1 month ago

Well let’s be real the ingredients in these plant based meat replacements are unnatural highly processed, chemically treated and never occur together in nature. Say what you want about meat eaters but this fake meat is much much worse for your actual body no matter how you slice it.

Plant Based News Admin
Editor
Plant Based News Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Rebelwave

Please provide evidence to back up your claim. Natural =/= good.

CP Edwards
CP Edwards
1 month ago
Reply to  Rebelwave

I love this argument.
A. Just about everything you eat is processed or prepared in some way that is not naturally found in nature. So do you only exist on raw fruits and veggies and dead animal?
B. Please actually read a label of one of these and state which chemical you find disturbing (hint: you’ll find most ingredients are far less toxic than your Halloween candy). Just parroting a baseless claim is the highest form of ignorance.

Rebelwave
Rebelwave
1 month ago

To get fat in the fake meat to look like animal fat, unsaturated plant fats are heavily hydrogenated. Go and look at the health war o gs around hydrogenated fats. The body has no mechanism for dealing with this unnatural compound.

Anne Williamson
Anne Williamson
1 month ago

I wish every country would ban the reference to meat products. As a lifelong vegetarian (mostly vegan) I find it extremely offputting seeing a plant based product described as beef or whatever, and I don’t buy it.

Han
Han
1 month ago

That’s great for you hun, but it’s helped loads of people transition to eating less meat or to even give it up altogether if thats what they want to do. Many people who’ve eaten meat their whole lives enjoy these foods, and still want access to them as vegetarians. You can continue to avoid those products if you don’t like them but I don’t see how that should mean it unavailable to everyone else.

Khenne Enyieko
Khenne Enyieko
1 month ago

There are so many names to name your plant based products, why give them meatlike names?

Plant Based News Admin
Editor
Plant Based News Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Khenne Enyieko

Hi, it helps people transitioning find plant-based foods that satisfy their desire for food they’re used to, without paying for animals to be harmed.

Will
Will
1 month ago

It was only a matter of time. Give them hell plant based producers. Plant based eaters have made our decision on what we will put in our bodies. It obviously isn’t dead animal products.

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