The Vegan Society has joined a coalition objecting to plans by the EU that could make it illegal for plant-based foods to be compared to dairy products in future.
If approved, ‘dairy’ words such as ‘creamy’ or phrases like ‘alternative to’ could be stripped from almond milk and soya yoghurt to vegan cheese and butter.
Coordinated by The Good Food Institute, 21 international NGOs including Greenpeace, WWF, Food Watch and Compassion in World Farming have signed an open letter, calling on the EU to dismiss the ban and instead, encourage a shift towards more plant-based diets.
As well as introducing extreme restrictions on the labelling of plant-based dairy products, food manufacturers could be required to redesign the packaging too. They would no longer be able to use milk cartons for plant-based milks or yogurt cups for vegan yoghurt, as these are more commonly associated with dairy items.
The Vegan Society is backing calls to reject these extreme plans, which it believes has the potential to put people off veganism, while also contradicting the sustainability goals of the EU Green Deal and Farm to Fork Strategy.
Louise Davies, Head of Campaigns, Policy and Research at The Vegan Society said: “Now is the time to be supporting the plant-based business sector, not restricting it. With scientific consensus confirming that plant-based diets are on the whole better for the environment, governments need to be encouraging consumption of plant-based foods, and supporting brands in this area.”
“These amendments do nothing to support consumer understanding, and instead are an arbitrary step to attempt to hold back the rise of the plant-based sector.”
These potentially damaging restrictions come at a time when interest in veganism and plant-based diets is at an all time high. In recent years, The Vegan Society has seen both a change in perceptions of veganism and an exponential growth in the number of people following a vegan lifestyle or plant-based diet.
In October 2020, The Grocer found 62% of adults in the UK have previously purchased plant milk, rising to 81% for those aged 25-34 while the plant milk market in the UK accounts for 15% of the total European market. Its value is set to double between the years 2019-2025, from £226 million to £497 million.