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Big Meat’s febrile attempts to hobble plant-based alternatives unsuccessful—so far

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The meat industry is in a bit of a tizzy as plant-based alternatives continue to attract more attention and encroach on the meat marketplace. For example, a number of state legislatures in the US, spurred on by lobbyists from the meat industry, are attempting to pass laws that prohibit plant-based meat alternative brands from using the word “meat” on their products. Mississippi, Missouri and Arkansas are three current examples.

But things aren’t going according to plan at the moment. Food and Wine reports that Mississippi’s legislature has suspended its effort after a legal challenge from Upton’s Naturals and the Plant Based Foods Association. Likewise, in Arkansas a federal court recently struck down the state’s attempt to dictate what company’s can put on their own labels, while a lawsuit from Tofurky has yet to be decided.

Joining Tofurky in the lawsuit were the Good Food Institute, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and the American Civil Liberties Union. The suit, based on the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the US Constitution, was a response to bill in Arkansas that banned companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods from using the words “beef” and “burger” on their packaging, which is hilarious considering that “garden burgers” and “veggie burgers” have been supermarket staples for decades now. The Arkansas bill did not even made concessions for labels that included qualifying terms like “vegan” and “plant-based.”

In a statement, Tofurky CEO Jaime Athos said:

“We are pleased that the court blocked this unconstitutional law from being enforced while our underlying lawsuit proceeds, so that consumers can continue to have access to familiar plant-based products in Arkansas for the foreseeable future.”

Jessica Almy, director of policy at The Good Food Institute, described the absurdities Tofurky and similar companies would have been faced with if the law was not blocked by the federal court.

“Tofurky would have faced a terrible choice: create confusing new labels for Arkansas with absurd language like ‘veggie tubes’ and ‘veggie discs,’ risk violating the law, or stop selling food in Arkansas altogether,” she explained. “The court has put a stop to the significant government overreach and Arkansas consumers are now free to have all the choices available to consumers in other states.”

But don’t think for a minute that meat industry lobbyists, who all worked in the industry previously, are going to give up this pathetic charade any time soon. There is nothing more vindictive, more vicious, more cowardly than corporate power. But it’s fun to watch them writhe.