It seems that ever since the Greggs vegan roll had the honour of being spat out by Piers Morgan on national television, Britain has been gripped by meat substitutes.
Now the EU has caught on to this centuries-old phenomenon by attempting to ban ‘meat-like’ names for vegetarian or vegan products.
Veggie burger on the menu? Ha, fools! We could never expect halfwits such as yourself to realise that veggie burgers are vegetarian and achieve this God-tier grasp of the English language. This is why we ought to use the word ‘disc’ to describe what everyone else accepts as a meat-free burger.
Under Article 17 of EU food consumer regulation, names currently used for meat products and meat preparations will be reserved exclusively for products containing meat. In normal people-speak, this means veggie burgers are to be called the more unpalatable name ‘veggie disc’. The measures will now be voted on by the European Parliament after May’s European elections, before being put to member states and the European Commission.
Proponents argue for this regulation under the pretence of clarity. Not only is this measure unnecessary in principle, but it is also patronising. They claim consumers will be ‘misled’. But the history of meat substitutes dates back to 595 BC where the Chinese discovered Seitan - wheat gluten, meat-like in texture. And when the Chinese discovered tofu in 965 we have been on an absolute (bacon) roll ever since.
The proposal is also hilariously ironic. I wouldn’t be surprised if vegans insisted the rest of us meat eaters were banned from using misleading names such as ‘beef’ or ‘milk’ and instead were forced to use labels such as ‘dead cow flesh’ or ‘bovine mammary secretion’.
What’s more, this also bears the mark of rent-seeking from the meat industry lobbying politicians. While French socialist MEP Éric Andrieu claims that “the meat lobby is not involved in this,” it certainly has their fingerprints on it. Andrieu, who is responsible for overseeing the legislation, may denounce the affiliation with the meat lobby all he wants but in effect, it is obvious that those with a ‘steak’ in the meat industry will benefit from this crony capitalist move. So, to everyone’s surprise, the ban introduced in France this time last year was by entirely neutral farmer and MP, Jean-Baptiste Moreau.
This measure will also hinder the worldwide trend toward meat substitutes for ethical, environmental and economic reasons. Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP, hopes the ban could lead to food producers giving up on trying to emulate the meat-eating world, but as previously mentioned, meat substitutes have been enjoyed for millennia.
Cato says “I think this could unlock a lot of creativity. My personal favourite is ‘nomato’ soup, which is a tomato-tasting soup made of peppers.” Regardless of the absurdity in substituting tomatoes for peppers (as if the tomato is some endangered animal), real creativity is evident in the alternative meat industry. Meat-free innovations like the ‘Impossible burger’ have the potential to revolutionise how we view the tradeoff between meat consumption and the environment, making meat healthier and more widely available.
It seems that the EU has caught a case of Jamie-Oliver-itis and can’t keep their big state mitts off our grub. There is a cure however, if the UK is outside the EU by the time the labelling rule is applied, we ought not to follow Brussels’ lead.