Censorship Alert: Big Ag Thinks You Are Dumb
Living in the USA we deal with censorship in a variety of ways, but we don’t have it so bad. We have plenty of freedom of speech compared to many countries, but do you know how we keep that freedom of speech? By protecting it when it’s infringed upon. Let’s stand up and talk about the fact that label and advertising censoring in the food and beverage industry is an issue. Why? Apparently, big agricultural companies (aka: big ag) thinks that consumers are idiots.
The meat and dairy industry in multiple countries has tried to sue start-up companies big and small for using words like cheese, milk, and cream on their labels even when they are clearly followed up by words such as “plant-based” or “made from almonds”. In the EU, they even tried to stop plant-based milk companies from utilizing images such as pouring milk into a bowl of cereal because they claimed it was fraudulent advertising. Their claims were generally based around the fact that these plant-based businesses were misleading and trying to fool consumers. As a consumer, shouldn’t you be the one to complain about this not the direct competition in the dairy or meat industries? Seems to me like some people are just sore losers.
Another issue is meat companies trying to sue plant-based businesses for putting scientific facts forward as a form of advertisement. Should money trump science? I don’t think so, friends.
Let’s talk about a few of the arguments that have come up so far:
The CDFA asked Miyoko to remove the terms Butter and Dairy as well as cruelty-free from her label. Why? The CDFA implied they were misleading to consumers. Miyoko fought back with the help of ALDF (Animal Legal Defense Fund) and the US District Court for Northern California ruled in favor of her ability to continue to label her products as she sees fit. The fact that this was an issue in California, the proverbial golden land of eco-hippie eating, shows you just how powerful these big companies are.
Heura is now a big name in the plant-based meat space in Europe and their fact-based advertising in the middle of downtown Madrid in Spain landed them in hot water. It simply said (in Spanish) “Your Hamburger pollutes more than your car”. This was enough for them to be sued by Spanish meat industry associations. The following was a legal battle that also made a great PR campaign. The meat industry was shut down with the ruling “Heura’s advertising messages have a scientific basis and are taken from scientific reports and studies issued by publications such as Science, Nature and the FAO”. Meat money doesn’t trump science. This team’s informative and edgy style of advertising continues to make them trailblazers in the plant-based space.
The state of Louisiana ruled that terms such as meat, sausage, and any “meat-type” labeling could not be put on any products that were not made from the following items:
Harvested beef, pork poultry, alligator, farm-raised deer, turtle, domestic rabbit, crawfish, or shrimp carcass” - exact words. Personal thoughts here - LOL @ Louisiana, can’t forget about the alligators, turtles, crawfish and deer down there in the south…
This law passed into effect on October 1, 2020 and was immediately contested by Tofurkey on the 7th and escalated to the Federal court. The final ruling - there was no evidence that consumers were confused.
We cannot allow big companies and institutions to complete their agenda of censorship. What’s most insulting about it to me as a consumer is that the allegations that have been made in most cases imply that we, consumers are dumb and shouldn’t believe science.
As a parting note, I want to share a meat industry label fact. Meat companies in the USA (Europe is not quite as bad)are not required to list additives or preservatives… nor the hormones or antibiotics that go into the cows, pre-slaughter. Don’t fall for convenient censorship, keep your eyes up.