The European Commission wants to censor dairy terms on plant-based products. You might think it is a good idea as it clarifies any misleading information with terms like peanut butter, soy milk, etc. However, the way I see it is that censorship is going to be more misleading. More information about Amendment 171 can be found on Proveg’s Stop Plant-Based Dairy Censorship petition website.
How did Amendment 171 come to be?
I know it started when the European Commission was considering to censor meat terms to the plant-based alternatives. So a sausage would become a “tube”, a burger would become a “disk”, etc. Luckily the majority voted against this censorship. However, they then focused on dairy terms on plant-based products.
There are more pressing issues in my opinion. I don’t see having dairy terms on plant-based products as an issue it is more of an issue the other way. A friend of mine, told me that by mistake once she bought a cashew yoghurt thinking it is dairy-free. Turns out it was a dairy yoghurt with a cashew flavour. 🤦🏻♀️
Some fellow vegans think that this amendment is presented by factory farmers in an attempt to put vegan food out of business. However, as I am noticing in Germany, factory farmers have a new variable that might put them out of business, COVID-19.
Although I admit that I am more of a vegetarian than a vegan, let me explain why I don’t agree with this amendment.
Scenario 1: renaming dairy terms on plant-based products
We know that there are those who are intolerant to plant products such as wheat, soy, nuts, etc. Plant-based products were always transparent about their products containing one or more of these ingredients. Nut butter is always called “peanut butter”, “almond butter”, “cashew butter”, and so forth and not just “butter”. So everyone is aware that it contains nuts. Soy milk was always called “soy milk” and not just “milk”. So whether or not it contains dairy, you know it contains soy. With amendment 171, nut butter might become “nut pulp” and soy milk might become “soy drink”. This is already happening for over 5 years already in Germany. It could be that every brand will name their product different. You will go to the supermarket unsure whether for example “nut pulp”, “nut paste” and whatever terms each brand comes up with mean the same. Chaos!
Scenario 2: “dairy-free” label banned from plant-based products
It is many times hard for people who are lactose intolerant to find lactose-free alternatives. If one is lucky one might find lactose-free milk and other lactose-free dairy products. When not available, individuals who are lactose intolerant tend to opt for plant-based alternatives. With amendment 171, it will be already hard for them to know what the alternative is, as soy milk won’t be “soy milk” any more. The other issue is that if the product happens to contain no dairy, but no “dairy-free” label is available, the variety of products they can consume will drastically drop.
Scenario 3: repackaging plant-based products
Amendment 171 is not only about labelling but also the presentation of the products. They wouldn’t allow plant-based alternatives to have the same packaging as dairy products. I kind of agree and disagree with this point. The pro is that I am sure that plant-based companies will develop more ethical and practical packaging than dairy companies. The con is that if soy milk for example is no longer “soy milk”, at least from the packaging one can tell it is a milk alternative.
How to avoid this from happening?
If you agree with me and think that this plant-based censorship, will create problems for the consumer rather than solutions, please sign the petition on the ProVeg website.
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