Undoubtedly, you will have seen that French MPs recently voted through a Bill which bans companies from using ‘meat-like’ words – such as burgers, sausages and steak – for meat-free products.
Those found flouting such a law could face a fine of up to €300,000.
The architect of this law, En Marche! MP Jean-Baptiste Moreau, is a farmer and based his argument on a 2017 European Court of Justice ruling that soya and tofu products could not be marketed as ‘milk’ or ‘butter’.
Moreau claims that the use of such words is ‘misleading’ to consumers.
This implies he believes that someone will pick up a packet labelled ‘Vegetarian Sausages’ and believe that such a product contains meat.
There is a great irony in those with animal farming interests talking about vegan products being ‘misleading’.
Let’s start with the names that they give to ‘their’ products: bacon – rather than dead pig, beef – rather than dead cow flesh, milk – rather than bovine mammary secretion.
If the farming industry thinks sticking the word ‘vegetarian’ in front of the word ‘sausage’ is misleading, surely completely redefining what a product actually is, is just as misleading?
Then there are the claims made, particularly by British farmers, about animal welfare. I am sure you have heard the whole, ‘we have the highest animal welfare standards in the world’ argument.
Yet when one looks at any investigation into such farms – be they conventional or ‘free-range’ or otherwise – it is clear that these so-called ‘high animal welfare standards’ mean very little in practice.
Will the farming industry take steps to stop misleading consumers by not using such phrases? I doubt it. Will the farming industry begin to display images from slaughterhouses on packets of meat? I doubt it.
Cruelty and neglect
Investigations by UK animal protection group Animal Aid have found systemic and routine cruelty and neglect in British farms and English slaughterhouses.
These include animals being left to rot, piles of dead animals left out in the open, injured animals with untreated wounds, and animals being beaten, burnt with cigarettes, and having their throats hacked at; you certainly won’t see that stated on the packet. This is what the meat and dairy industries do not want you to see or know.
If the farming industry wants to stop consumers from being misled, they should start with themselves and be honest about the ‘products’ they produce.