This week, the US District Court for the Northern District of California ruled in favour of Miyoko's Creamery against the Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). This is a massive win for the vegan cheese brand and the whole pant-based industry.
Earlier this year, the California-based vegan dairy pioneer Miyoko's Creamery filed a lawsuit after the California Department of Food and Agriculture demanded the company to remove "dairy" and "butter" from its vegan products' labels. (Miyoko's labels its products as "vegan" and "made with plants.")
CDFA also wanted Miyoko's to remove the term "cruelty-free" from its vegan butter and an image of a woman hugging a cow from their website. The picture was taken at the farmed animal sanctuary Rancho Compasión, founded by Miyoko Schinner and her husband.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Miyoko's by animal-rights organisation Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), claiming that the CDFA is violating federal regulations and Miyoko's constitutional right to free speech.
Meat and dairy companies around the world feel threatened by the continually growing demand for plant-based based products. As a way to fight plant-based food producers, meat and dairy lobby is trying to ban the use of dairy and meat terms for plant-based products claiming that using words like "vegan butter" or "plant-based sausage" are confusing to consumers (even though there is no such evidence).
Last year, the court denied the CDFA's request to dismiss the lawsuit. It granted Miyoko's Creamery preliminary injunction, allowing Miyoko to maintain its labelling practices during the case.
The vegan brand's victory in the lawsuit is excellent news for other ethical companies fighting to defend their corporate free speech rights.
Miyoko's Creamery Founder and CEO Miyoko Schinner said this victory was a move forward in the evolution of food and language. "Using words such as 'butter' and 'milk' in the context of even products made from plants and not from animals is common parlance among consumers in the modern world," she said. "Food is ever-evolving, and so too, should language to reflect how people actually use speech to describe the foods they eat. We are extremely pleased by this ruling and believe that it will help set a precedent for the future of food."
"The CDFA's attempt to censor Miyoko's from accurately describing its products and providing context for their use is a blatant example of agency capture," ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells said. "The fact that animal-milk producers fear plant-based competition does not give state agencies the authority to restrict one industry in order to help another."