Grocery shopping in Mississippi is about to get terminologically ridiculous. A new law has just gone into effect banning plant-based meat providers from calling their products “veggie burgers” or “vegan hot dogs.” The words “burger” and “hot dog” are permitted only for products made from slaughtered livestock. According to proponents of the law, it’s a necessary regulation to avoid confusing customers, and violating the law is punishable with jail time.
Nobody is confused with the terms “alcohol-free beer” or “gluten-free bread,” so why they would be mixed up with a self-explanatory “vegan bacon” remains to be explained.
Many believe, however, that the law is simply an attempt by the meat lobby to discourage customers from buying meat alternatives. Michelle Simon, the executive director of the Plant Based Foods Association, said in a statement, “The plant-based meat alternative category is on fire right now, with consumers demanding healthier and more sustainable options. This law, along with similar laws in several other states, is the meat lobby’s response.”
Missouri passed a labeling law last year, though it was challenged in court and is currently in settlement talks. Dozens of other states have considered similar laws, which are unsurprisingly popular with farmers and ranchers. As the world’s population becomes more climate and diet-conscious, farmers are concerned that meat alternatives will soon seriously threaten the traditional meat market. And it appears that meat lobbyists aren’t waiting for that day to come.