The Spanish Congress has rejected proposals to ban certain terms such as “cheese” or “burger” in the labels for plant-based products, which the far-right party Vox put forward after the EU had rejected them this year. 

EU law already prohibits the use of some terms, including “milk” or “cheese”, for plant-based alternatives of dairy products, but last year Amendment 171 sought to further tighten the rules to go beyond dairy to include terms like “burger” or “sausage”. However, in May 2022, this amendment was rejected by the European Parliament, the European Council, and The European Commission.

Unhappy with this decision, Magdalena Nevado, Congress member for the far-right Vox Party, proposed banning these terms in Spain arguing that plant-based products can’t be presented as equivalent substitutes. The Spanish Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food of the Congress of Deputies has now rejected her proposal (with 15 votes in favour and 20 against it). 

A study undertaken by Proveg has shown that 93% of consumers perfectly differentiate a plant-based product from an animal one, and nine out of ten claimed not to know what they would be buying if terms such as “vegetable disc” were used ‘instead of “veggie burger”.

Verónica Larco, communications manager of ProVeg Spain, said: “Once again, it is clear that you cannot put limits on a sector that grows due to the explicit demand of consumers, who are proven to understand perfectly what they are buying and why they are buying it.” 

Bernat Ananos Martinez, the co-founder of the Catalan plant-based start-up Heura Foods, told Plant Based News: “If politicians really want to empower customers, let’s work on an eco-score system on all products where you can clearly see the environmental impact. They should stop protecting harmful industries and instead focus on environmental organizations.”

In the end, for vegans, it does not matter that much which terms are used because we read labels in detail to find out what products contain. Also, in the future vegan world, the terms we still use that are linked to animal agriculture and carnism will most likely not be used anymore. But this ban was not really about the names, but about trying to stop the rise of vegan alternatives to cruel food made of animals. A futile attempt to stop the vegan revolution. 

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.