Politicians don’t seem to think very highly of their constituents. From the drug war to raw milk, the busybodies in Washington are constantly passing legislation or introducing new regulations to protect you from yourself. You’re good enough to have half of your income stolen by the government, but you’re not smart enough to decide what you want to purchase with your hard-earned money or put in your body. That’s politics for you.
Case in point, Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Senator Jim Risch (D-ID) have reintroduced the DAIRY PRIDE Act, a bill that tackles the contentious national emergency of mislabeled non-dairy products made from plants, nuts, and seeds. Under the proposal, non-dairy products would no longer be permitted to use dairy terms, such as cheese, milk, and yogurt. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would be required to issue guidance for national enforcement of these menacing alternatives within 90 days, and then report back to Congress after two years.
If passed, companies like Silk or Blue Earth would not be allowed to market and sell their products as almond milk or vegan cheese. The co-sponsors say they are doing this on behalf of dairy farmers and consumers because many mislabeled alternatives contain ingredients and nutrients that may not match the nutritional content of conventional dairy products.
Evidently, shoppers are too stupid to distinguish between cow’s milk and almond milk, or real mozzarella cheese and the vegan alternative derived from coconuts and pea protein. Not everything is literal in the grocery store – corn dogs do not need collars, leashes, and chew toys.
“Dairy farmers in Wisconsin work tirelessly every day to ensure that their milk meets high standards for nutritional value and quality. Imitation products have gotten away with using dairy’s good name for their own benefit, which is against the law and must be enforced. Mislabeling of plant-based products as ‘milk’ hurts our dairy farmers. That’s why I’m reintroducing the DAIRY PRIDE Act to take a stand for Wisconsin farmers and the quality products they make.”
But this isn’t the first time that the vegan industry has become the target of the state.
Cattle ranchers have joined the quintessential conversation of what constitutes as meat and dairy.
In early 2018, the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association demanded the Department of Agriculture prohibit new types of plant-based protein from being called things like “vegan meat” or “Beyond Meat.” The beef industry asserts that these alternatives, which often include rice flour, yeast extract, or pea protein isolate, deceive consumers into thinking they are real beef. They seem especially perturbed when these items are “strategically” placed near traditional meat items in supermarkets.
Similar concerns have occurred across the pond.
Nick Allen, head of the British Meat Processors Association, told Vice in 2017:
“It is quite simple – meat is a product that comes from animals. Any use of the word in any other context is deceiving the public. In a funny sort of a way, when these people want to use the word meat, it is an acknowledgement that there is no substitute.”
But is this story really about its definition? Or, is it about snuffing out the competition?
The Rise of Fake Meat
It is true that the number of vegetarians and vegans has barely budged over the last 20 years. The latest polls suggest that just 5% of Americans are vegetarian and 3% are vegan. But these studies do not take into account consumers who are experimenting with meatless meal themes, or who are gradually making the transition to these diets.
To show how this market is growing and how entrepreneurs want a slice of that increasing demand, it is essential to assess the dollars and cents.
As Liberty Nation reported, annual vegan food revenues top $3 billion, chicken and steak substitute sales are anticipated to rise to $5.2 billion by next year, and non-dairy beverage purchases have climbed to more than $2 billion. By contrast, beef and dairy sales are tumbling as Americans consume less red meat and drink fewer gallons of cow’s milk every year.
Moreover, vegan brands, like Daiya, are being proactive and advertising their cheesecakes and cream cheeses as Cheezecake and Cream Cheeze.
Indeed, consumer trends change – studies reveal that most vegetarians lapse after just a year. As millennials became the primary demographic in America, everyone thought the demise of McDonald’s was nigh in favor of healthier alternatives. But we all deduced wrong. Instead, the home of the Quarter-Pounder, Big Mac, and delicious fries is witnessing the best of times, not the worst.
Perhaps imbibing tofu burgers, hot dogs produced from wheat, and coconut ice cream is a fad. Whatever the case might be, the meat industry is petrified of future diets.
Are Consumers Dumb?
When shoppers purchase a carton of cashew milk or even a container of goat’s milk sour cream, they are not doing so because they think it comes from a cow. Patrons are not ordering a vegetarian burger with the idea that it is sourced on a farm and derived from a harmed animal. And, the companies that manufacture these products are not trying to manipulate customers. Consumers know better. So, let’s abandon the mendacity and be candid: Veganism is taking a bite out of the meat industry’s market share and beef and dairy representatives are trying to use the government to stifle competition.
Akin to when former President George W. Bush said man and fish can co-exist, so too can the meat and vegan industries. Who would want vegan advocates to propose an idiotic sin tax on meat?