“Meat” Me Half Way?

February 22, 2019

It might sound straightforward, but it’s really not. Yes, meat is the flesh of an animal that we eat as food, but when meat substitutes like tofu began hitting food stands, they were given new names so that people could relate them to meat. For example, an alternative to turkey dinner at Thanksgiving gave way to Tofurkey (tofu/turkey … get it?).

But meat producers are not letting things go when it comes to labeling vegetarian products as meat. When a company called Impossible Burgers, for example, produced a 100% vegetarian burger, it was considered a meat alternative, or more precisely, “meatless meat”. Meat producers were not happy about this and wanted the label of “meat” to exclusively mean animal products. Well, last year, Missouri became the first state in the US to pass a law that makes it illegal for companies to use the word “meat” on their labels if the product does not come from “harvested production livestock or poultry.” The reason? To prevent any misrepresentation of the product and customer confusion.
As always, there are two sides to the story. The farmers and people working in the traditional meat industry worry that such labeling could confuse buyers and decrease business. As for the other side? Companies like Tofurkey and Meatless Meat believe that their products are close enough to meat; just not meat from animals. Their lab-grown meat often contains the same nutrients as and tastes like animal meat, so why shouldn’t they call it a type of meat?

Who owns the word meat? And do you think that folks shopping in grocery stores will be confused about meatless meat and regular meat?