The ban on the time period “vegetable steak”, a “brake in the agricultural world to the food transition” | EUROtoday

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Steaks, hams and different plant-based “meats” must change their identify, in line with a decree printed Tuesday. This victory for representatives of the animal sectors exhibits their resistance to triggering the meals transition, in line with a number of specialists. A visual reluctance on the Agricultural Show which is in full swing at Versailles, in Paris.

No extra “soy steaks”, “fake ham”, “fake bacon” and different vegetable nuggets. On Tuesday February 27, the French authorities printed a decree within the Official Journal prohibiting numerous plant-based meat substitutes from utilizing butchery vocabulary.

In the midst of farmers' revolt, the chief is giving in to a long-standing demand from the animal sectors. “It was a request from our breeders,” thus justified Prime Minister Gabriel Attal in a message posted on.

While a earlier decree adopted in June 2022 was suspended a month later by the Council of State as a result of it was thought of too obscure, the brand new textual content features a listing of round twenty phrases now prohibited for plant substitutes. Among them: filet, sirloin, steak, entrecôte, aiguillette, flank steak and even ham and escalope. A second listing units a most content material of vegetable proteins in sure meat recipes resembling bacon, black pudding or sausages. Also prohibited, subsequently, are vegetable “nuggets”, “lardons” or “rillettes”.

“It’s a very symbolic battle which clearly shows the obstacles in the agricultural world to plant-based our eating habits,” reacts Florimond Peureux, spokesperson for the National Observatory of Plant-Based Foods. “Even if the market for plant substitutes remains limited today, the animal sectors are showing that they will not give up anything to slow down their development.”

If the provision of meat substitutes continues to develop and diversify in France, the marketplace for various proteins – together with plant-based drinks, yogurts, protein-based pancakes or pretend meats – stays a distinct segment sector with gross sales estimated at 425 million euros in 2022, removed from different European nations, Germany and the Netherlands within the lead.

The Agricultural Show, a “livestock show”

“The Agricultural Show is also a perfect illustration of these blockages. It makes no real room for plant-based food. It looks like a livestock show,” scolds Florimond Peureux. “The communication clearly places the emphasis on the pavilion where the animals are located. And the plant sector is a big catch-all: cereals for livestock feed, biofuels, fruits, vegetables, beers. There is no logic.”

In pavilion 2.2, intended for plants, there are indeed numerous representatives of the sector. Around a large fruit and vegetable Eiffel Tower there are producers of apples, pears, potatoes but also cereals and legumes. Difficult, however, to obtain real information on the vegetarian diet. Only the legumes stand offers a quiz to help you discover the qualities of chickpeas, beans and other vegetable proteins.

Although they have been present for several years, plant-based meat substitute companies are not part of this edition of the show. “We were present in 2022 and 2023,” says Laurent Gubbels, spokesperson for the Spanish imitation carnival model Heura. “Even if the primary yr, we have been a bit apprehensive, ultimately, the whole lot at all times went very effectively. The majority of individuals have been pleasant and curious and that was why we have been there: to find new options to meat,” he salutes.

“But this year, faced with the anger of the farmers and the ambient tension, we preferred to cancel our participation. We were afraid that our speech would not be audible in this context,” he concedes, earlier than promising: “ But we'll be back next year.”

Pavilion 1, dedicated to livestock, looks like a nightmare for vegetarians. Red meat tasting platters circulate among the sheep and cows, all adorned with a sign on the qualities of their meat. Right in the middle, at the gigantic stand of Interbev (National Interprofessional Livestock and Meat Association), stands its slogan “Love meat, eat better”. For a number of years, the group has advocated “flexitarianism”. But if in concept this time period defines a vegetarian food regimen with occasional consumption of meat, Interbev has made it an incentive to eat good high quality native meat. His ebook of “flexitarian” recipes distributed to onlookers doesn’t comprise any meat-free recipes.

The Interbev stand at the Paris Agricultural Show, February 29, 2024.
The Interbev stand on the Paris Agricultural Show, February 29, 2024. © Cyrielle Cabot, France 24

Asked in regards to the place of vegetation in meals, the representatives of the group stay silent. One finally ends up saying: “We’re not going to eat seeds instead of steak!” Another regrets that “we are turning away from our land”. On the opposite hand, everybody welcomes the choice to ban the identify “plant-based steaks”. “We have to stop misleading the consumer. Something made from soy stuffed with additives will always be worse than a real steak.”

Comments which take up Interbev's predominant argument on this debate: “We understand the importance of innovation and dietary diversity. However, it is essential to maintain a clear distinction between these processed products and traditional meat products “, declared its president Jean-François Guihard in a press launch on Wednesday, pleading that “the use of codes and names traditionally associated with meat to market these plant-based alternatives” can “mislead consumers”.

An various to diversify plates

“THE scientific studies on the subject however show that consumers differentiate very well between meat and its substitutes, underlines Romain Espinosa, economics researcher and specialist in these issues at the CNRS. “The phrases 'vegetarian' are normally clearly written on the packages, and sometimes the options are displayed in separate cabinets.”

Another argument often used by those opposed to these “fake meats”: their often highly processed nature and the numerous additives added to reproduce the taste and texture of real meat. “Indeed, ideally, we should favor raw vegetable proteins such as chickpeas or lentils. But we have to see what we are comparing: a soy steak will have a much less impact on health than an ultra-processed beef steak” , defends Romain Espinosa.

For the specialist, the interest of these products lies above all in their “practicality” and their ability to “bring variety to the plates”. “For anyone trying to eat more vegetarian, it will be much easier to replace their ground steak with a substitute that looks like it, has the same taste, the same texture, and cooks the same way,” he explains. “This is also why the question of terms is so important. It helps maintain familiarity for the consumer.”

“But above all, we know that the French must reduce their consumption of meat for their health and to preserve the planet. These substitutes are not perfect, but they can help change eating habits,” praises Florimond Peureux, from ONAV. The livestock sector in fact represents 12% of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the United Nations, and with 84.9 kilograms of carcass equivalent consumed per capita in 2022, the French consume twice as much meat as the average. worldwide. In France, all carbon neutrality scenarios for 2050 predict a drop in meat consumption ranging from 20 to 70%.

Reducing meat consumption also meets public health objectives, as red or processed meat causes negative health effects when consumed in large quantities. THE Government National Nutrition and Health Program (PNNS) thus calls for alternating animal and vegetable proteins.

Read alsoA blue or well-cooked planet? Meat facing the challenge of climate change

A long legal battle

But before we see these names disappear once and for all from the shelves of plant-based meat substitutes, several obstacles could still stand in the way of their opponents.

The French group HappyVore, which produces plant-based substitutes for merguez, chipolatas and other imitation meats in France, has in fact announced on LinkedIn its desire to “contest the decree” and have it suspended. His argument: the text would create “unfair competition” between French and foreign companies. “The measure will only apply to French companies and not to foreign companies. Imports will therefore not be affected,” explains Romain Espinosa.

While France is the first European country to legislate on this issue, it will also have to convince Brussels. In October 2020, the European Parliament had already largely rejected a text aimed at banning these designations, with the exception of similacties, which were prevented from using the terms “milk”, “yogurt” or “cheese”. Now, Paris is awaiting a choice from the Court of Justice of the European Union to find out whether or not the nationwide ban complies with European legislation or not. “This is the start of a long legal battle,” concludes Romain Espinosa.