Why South Africa’s Vegan Meat Will Stay On Supermarket Shelves (For Now)

Vegan organizations have condemned South Africa's plans to crack down on plant-based meat alternatives


2 Minutes Read

South Africa can still stock plant-based meat products Supermarkets across South Africa can still stock plant-based meat products for the time being - Media Credit: Jeffrey Isaac Greenberg 8+ / Alamy Stock Photo

Plant-based meat products are no longer at risk of being seized from South African retailer shelves, thanks to an extended reprieve that will run until May 2023.

In June of this year, South Africa’s Department of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development (DALRRD) banned the use of “meaty” terms to describe animal-free foods. Vegan burgers, sausages, and biltong were specifically named.

The move was supported by the South African Meat Processors Association, which claimed that such terminology was “misleading.” The DALRRD attempted to initiate immediate seizures of plant-based products. These were due to begin on August 23. However, a last-minute Johannesburg High Court order put a pause on the endeavor.

A fresh extension of the court order means that meaty-monikered plant-based goods will remain available. They can legally be sold until at least May 8, 2023.

A win for plant-based advocates in South Africa

Food awareness group ProVeg South Africa has been a vocal supporter of the plant-based sector. It is also a fierce campaigner against the domestic labeling ban.

“The implication of the extension is that the Department and the Food Safety Agency remain prohibited from seizing any meat analogue products,” a spokesperson for ProVeg said in a statement.

“We welcome the extension of the interdict as we continue to engage with all relevant stakeholders to work together to formulate regulations applicable to meat analogue products. This is imperative to ensure regulatory certainty in the plant-based sector.”

In addition to advocating for the plant-based food sector professionally, ProVeg South Africa has also taken a “rebellious” path.

In September, the group served up more than 1,200 vegan burgers as part of a Heritage Day braai (a traditional South African outdoor barbecue). Multiple domestic plant-based brands contributed to the event, including Fry’s, Urban Vegan, Infinite Foods, and B-Well.

The event was deemed, albeit unofficially, to be the world’s largest ever vegan braai.

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