Beef lobby resolves to outlaw veggie “burgers”

If it looks like beef and tastes like beef but is made from plants, the nation’s largest beef lobby wants it censored.
Burgers with x over them

If anything proves the rise of the once-humble veggie burger, it’s the beef industry trying to take back the word “meat” now that plant-based options are starting to win the popularity contest. 


Here’s the deal: 

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) released its list of top priorities for 2018, and there was a new item that caught our eye: a resolution that would stop plant-based meat companies from using the word “beef” or from including pictures or “pictorial facsimiles” of beef in product promotion, advertising, or labeling. 

This could have a big impact on what you see on grocery store shelves, and on the entire plant-based meat industry. 

For instance, imagine the following packages without the word “beef” and without any imagery that appears similar to beef. Yes, that could mean companies couldn’t even put pictures of their own products on packaging, since plant-based beef looks like, well, beef.

Beyond meat and trader joe's beef-less burger products
We doubt a package labeled “crumbles” and featuring a picture of empty bell peppers would clue consumers in on what they are buying.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because the dairy industry has been pushing for a similar law. Just like that bill, this resolution would be unconstitutional if confirmed as law.   

Aside from violating the First Amendment (not exactly a minor detail), this resolution is also an affront to free market principles and to consumers who are looking for options that taste like beef but don’t contribute to some of the biggest global crises of our era.  

Someday soon, it’s likely that the beef lobby will advocate on behalf of plant-based beef. After all, some of the largest beef producing companies are placing bets on a plant-based future. In the meantime, GFI’s policy team will be fighting to ensure that plant-based companies can compete on a level playing field against animal products—a playing field where products are labeled according to common sense, not petty politics.  

To learn more about GFI’s work to support the success of plant-based replacements of animal products, click here


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Emily Byrd