With rising concerns over the Earth’s sustainability, and with significant scientific leaps in the food industry, more and more people are opting to eat less—if not totally eliminate—meat from their diets.
From the meteoric rise of plant-based superfoods like quinoa and avocados, to more overt faux-meat entrees like Moving Mountains’ B12 Burger (the purely plant-based burger that bleeds), the availability of alternative plant-based food items and meat replacements have grown rampant.
But while plant-based diets and overall healthy eating have been on a steady rise in recent years, some European lawmakers have had a wilted reception towards vegan products labeling themselves using terms normally reserved for meat.
The European parliament recently voted to revise food labeling regulations, effectively drawing a clearer line between meat-based and plant-based products. Companies that produce faux-meat or meat imitations out of mushrooms and soy-based products will no longer be allowed to label their products as steaks, sausages, burgers, or any other term commonly used for meat-based dishes. However, the jury is still out on whether or not these regulations will apply to products made with jackfruit, beans, legumes, or any other plant not listed.
The Philippines has a long tradition of using “meaty” vegetables to extend meat dishes, from jackfruit or banana blossom in kare-kare and paksiw, to the more contemporary 50/50 meat to mushroom split of Mushroom burger. Only time will tell how this new revision will affect the dining community in the EU, but one would think that it might be prudent for the Philippine FDA to adapt similar measures in overall food-labeling, especially with regards to potential allergens.
While some may choose to restrict their diet as a lifestyle choice (and we should respect others’ lifestyle choices so long as they don’t directly affect anyone), some people don’t really have a say in the matter. Imitation meat products commonly use soy, legumes, and gluten as a protein base—all of which are linked to certain allergies that can cause anything from a mild rash to anaphylactic shock. The tiny fine print found in food packages here are less than ideal for people who’d like to avoid a trip to the hospital, and a clearer, more transparent approach to labelling and identification would surely benefit everyone involved.