Good news – more lawsuits are rolling back unconstitutional labelling bans on using meat-based terms. Last month, a federal court ruled that an Arkansas law that had banned makers of meat alternatives such as Tofurky from using commonly understood words to describe their products was unconstitutional. The law prohibited the labeling of any food product as ‘meat’ unless that food product was derived from livestock, and it banned such terms as ‘veggie sausage’ and ‘veggie burger’ from food labeling in Arkansas.
The Arkansas law, U.S. District Court Judge Kristine Baker explained in her ruling, unconstitutionally barred Tofurky from “convey[ing] meaningful, helpful information to consumers about the products they are purchasing, and Tofurky’s repeated indications that the food products contained in these packages contain no animal-based meat dispel consumer confusion.” In other words, no one is confused about whether Tofurky is turkey!
We’ve seen the same kind of thing in other states and other products but the meat, dairy and egg alternatives seem to be prevailing. Last year, a lawsuit filed by Upton’s Naturals forced Mississippi’s agriculture department, which had issued similar rules, to backtrack and amend the rules.
Is the meat industry getting nervous? They should be. The sales of meat and dairy substitutes have been soaring, hence the clamor to adopt rules against using some words to describe meat alternatives. Supporters of such laws typically claim they want to help consumers avoid confusion. However, research and commonsense suggest consumers aren’t confused by terms such as “veggie burger” or the like. Worse, linguistic bans generally prohibit accurate and honest labeling even if—as the federal court in Arkansas found was the case with Tofurky’s labeling—”the product [in question] also states on the label that it’s 100% vegan, plant-based or meatless.”
How can a plant have blood? That sounds impossible! Well, not exactly. The folks, at the appropriately named Impossible Foods, have invented a burger that actually bleeds just like a real burger with just one exception. While this blood didn’t come from an animal, many will think it could have. The company created a totally vegan burger that “bleeds” just like a real, juicy, half-pounder does, and now the Food and Drug Administration has decided that it’s totally, 100% safe.
The nutrient that causes the bleeding effect is heme — it’s an iron-rich compound that occurs naturally. And as it turns out, it’s the reason that the Impossible Burger turns impossibly blood-red when it’s cooked.
This is just part of the new trend of making meat substitutes, or as the industry calls them meat analogues, as much like the real thing as possible, but without the meat of course. Scientists at the Impossible Foods company say they’ve managed to mimic the particular mouth-feel of meat by using bioengineered plant “blood,” reports the Wall Street Journal. While not yet available in grocery stores, look out for the Impossible Burger at a good number of restaurants throughout Washington state!
Meat and dairy substitutes are getting popular. The global market for meat substitutes is expected to reach $ 5.17 Billion by 2020, at a compound annual growth rate of 6.4% from 2015 to 2020 according to Markets and Markets, a food marketing research company. Meanwhile, the global non-dairy market is expected to reach $19.5 Billion by 2020. Another industry research group, Mintel Menu Insights, says vegetarian restaurant menu options have grown 66 percent in the past three years. Vegetarian foods are really on the move.
The animal-derived food product industry sees the rising trend and is getting nervous. The push back has begun in the courtroom and with regulators, but has failed each time. Almond milk was sued for using the word “milk” after almond, but that was thrown out of court. And just recently, Just Mayo, an eggless mayonnaise, fought back and won against regulators who initially said that they couldn’t call anything “eggless mayo.”
Meanwhile, those interested in whole plant foods got a big boost from the UN. The General Assembly declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses. Pulses are legumes such as beans, peas and lentils. The UN states that pulses are “an affordable alternative to more expensive animal-based protein, pulses are ideal for improving diets.” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon went on to say in an inaugural celebration that “pulses contribute significantly in addressing hunger, food security, malnutrition, environmental challenges and human health, and also are a vital source of plant-based proteins and amino acids.”
Here in Washington, the veg restaurant scene is going strong. We’re happy to announce another new vegan restaurant, Harvest Beat. The restaurant will feature one seating a night for a five-course, $50, vegan set menu that will change regularly to “respect food of the moment.” The owners, Jan and Aaron Geibel say, “here at Harvest Beat we are gathering “the goodness” to help create a healthy world.” The restaurant has room for up to 60 diners, an open kitchen, and a patio in the back. The restaurant is located at 1711 N 45th Seattle 98103 tel. 206 547-1348. We’re sure this new restaurant will be a big hit!
There’s now a veggie burger that actually bleeds! But don’t worry, it’s not real blood, just part of the new trend of making meat substitutes, or as the industry calls them meat analogues, as much like the real thing as possible, but without the meat of course. Scientists at the company Impossible Foods company say they’ve managed to mimic the particular mouth-feel of meat by using bioengineered plant “blood,” reports the Wall Street Journal. It reportedly even tastes slightly metallic like real blood.
The three-year-old company has so far created a hamburger that’s supposed to look, feel, taste and cook just like the real thing, or something close to it. Scientists in the company’s labs sniff cooking meat smells and make notes, testing the real thing in different ways to gain insight into how to replicate it.
There’s a spectrum of needs when it comes to the requirements of vegetarians for meat analogues. Some people either don’t need meat substitutes or only need a vague resemblance. At the other end are those people who need something to eat as close to meat as possible but, of course, made with only plant ingredients. Others fall somewhere in between. This product is intended to attract the hard core meat eaters who might need something a little more real, including simulated blood and juices.
The vegetarian food industry and their scientists seem hard at work producing what’s called hyper-real animal products. Please see our previous posting for other products in the making, some of which are expected to be available for sale soon.