Perhaps the meat lobby has a point...?

by @edent | # | 2 comments | Read ~1,205 times.

I've been a vegetarian for half my life and I have been blogging about crappy vegetarian labelling for a decade. Usually it's a rant about how a seemingly innocuous dish has hidden bone jelly in it - but today I experience the reverse situation.

So, I was in the "veggie snacks" aisle of my local supermarket. I grabbed some tofu bites, mushroom sausages, a bean burger - and then I saw this.

I was about to go on a tirade about co-mingling of veggie and non-veggie foods when I looked closer.

  • BIG thing saying "Sausage"
  • Teeny-tiny copy in a hard-to-read font saying "vegan"

How is anyone supposed to think this is anything other than an attempt to trick people into unwillingly buying a veggie-friendly product?

It was only in the course of writing this blog that I noticed the green "vegan" text in the bottom right corner.

And only when proof-reading the post that I spotted another tiny marketing sticker saying it's vegan. Can you find it? Maybe I'm blind to all the advertising on packaging - but I genuinely didn't see it.

Which brings me round to the meat lobby's latest complaint.

Apparently they want "veggie burgers" to be called "veggie discs" and "veggie sausages" to be called "tubes of processed vegetable matter." Or something like that.

It's obvious that the meat market is suffering as people turn away from eating dead animals. And, usually, I'd dismiss their protests as the wailing of a dying industry desperate to stay relevant.

And yet...

I've lost count of the times I've been in a restaurant in a foreign country, only to find the "vegetable burger" is really "meat burger served with vegetables". And I quite often find myself double-checking with wait-staff that they've understood I want the veggie lasagna. No, not even a little bit of meat, thank you.

"Hur-dur! Why dO yOu eAT ThInGs SHapEd liKE MEAT tHen!?"

I don't. There's nothing inherently meat-shaped about a circle. Or a tube. I eat things which are convenient to slip between two halves of a bun, or easy to pick up with chopsticks.

But as veggie products morph to be more palatable to carnivores, this confusion is going to grow.

A "bleeding" burger doesn't appeal to me - but obviously does to some people who feel threatened by the thought of being caught not eating meat.

So, do we need to change the language or insist on better descriptions? Here's a selection of "fake meats" I bought from the same aisle (I was hungry!) - they're all unambiguous in their provenance, I think.
A range of fake meats.

On the other hand, I recently reviewed some Phoenix Drumsticks - a vegan chicken substitute.
Breaded drumsticks - with a bone sticking out of them.

I quite like the idea of eating Unicorn Burger, Dragon Ribs, and Sphinx Sausage.

Language changes. Burgers don't have to come from the Hamburg region of Germany, and they don't inherently have to be made of cow. Tastes change as well - I'm no longer the odd-one-out at a barbecue.

But while that change is occurring, I think it is important not to mislead people into eating something they'd rather not.

Oh, and the Fry's Vegan Sausage Rolls tasted bland, stodgy, and rather grim. Just like their meaty brethren.

2 thoughts on “Perhaps the meat lobby has a point...?

  1. One reason the clear packaging is important: Allergies.

    A friend of mine is allergic to soy beans. While she can kind of tolerate soy sauce, tofu makes her incredibly ill. She reads ingredient lists carefully, but I doubt she'd do that when picking up a burger. I mean, it's just meat, right?! She already has a heck of a time getting cheese, ever since the grocery store by her decided to mix up the vegan and dairy cheeses in the display.

    I do think the proposed labels are silly, but there should be nothing wrong with slapping a big 'Vegan' or 'Vegetarian' on there somewhere. I mean, that's just good marketing, right?

  2. dusoft says:

    Allergies? All EU countries has gotten allergies clearly listed for years – both in the supermarket and in the restaurants. One would expect this to be the case in the US as well, but it seems it is not.

    See https://www.fsai.ie/legislation/food_legislation/food_information/14_allergens.html

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