On 26th February 2024, France’s reputation of being one of the least vegan-friendly countries in Western Europe was boosted as the French government issued a decree banning the use of meat terms on plant-based meat products if produced in France. Among the 23 banned terms are “steak”, “ham”, “prime rib”, “filet” and “escalope”. However, producers elsewhere in the EU can continue to sell in France plant-based food with meat names, which puts into question whether these types of bans have any real effect on the sales of vegan products on the street, or whether they may be more symbolic than they appear to be.

The decree says that terms “referring to the names of species and groups of animal species, morphology or anatomy” are also banned when marketing or promoting a product containing plant proteins.

In August 2022, the High Court of France temporarily suspended the ban on the use of the word “meat” and similar on vegan food products, which was just enacted on 30th June, as it considered that plant-based companies did not have enough time to adapt to the change, but now the ban has been re-enacted by the government as seven months have passed. 

In 2021, the Spanish Congress rejected proposals to ban certain terms such as “cheese” or “burger” on the labels for plant-based products, which the far-right party Vox put forward after the EU had rejected them that year. In Poland, the government drafted a decree in 2023 that would ban “meaty” words from labels of fake meat products. In the US, in April 2023 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released draft recommendations on labelling milk products accepting dairy-free alternatives using the term “milk”, but only if specific information is added on the labels.

“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’.