Opinion: Spread the good news in Great British Beef Week

The clever use of words and product packaging shows just how easy it is to manipulate and confuse consumers – never more so in the vegan and vegetarian world.

When a vegan burger and vegan sausage roll are hailed as the “real deal”, you have to pinch yourself.

There’s not a gram of beef, pork, lamb, chicken or turkey in any of these products, but they are masqueraded as an equal.

See also: Singing the praises of grass-fed livestock

Jilly Greed, co-founder Ladies in Beef

In France they wouldn’t get away with it.

Legislation passed by the French government in 2018 made it illegal to label vegan and vegetarian food with descriptions used for meat and dairy products.

Fake meat

This included products originating from livestock production, such as steak and sausage, as well as other terms for traditional meat and dairy products. 

The regulation was tabled as an amendment to an agriculture bill by a French farmer MP, who argued such labelling was confusing consumers.

It followed a judgement from the European Court of Justice against plant-based products using dairy labels such as butter, cream, cheese or milk.

Failure to comply may result in a £250,000+ fine. 

Some US states are also regulating against ‘vegan meat’ products to protect consumers.

Wouldn’t it be an achievement if our British MPs also took the opportunity to correct this injustice in our new Agriculture Bill?

When manufacturers add the words “burger” or “steak” to give their vegan or vegetarian products an identity, they are appealing to consumer psychology and expectation in shape, smell, taste and texture.

But it’s still “fake meat”, whichever way it’s dressed up. They are deliberately misleading the consumer.

Opportunity to champion meat

Which is why Great British Beef Week (which kicks off on Monday 1 April) and Ladies in Beef aim to champion our home-produced product and counter the myths.

It’s a major opportunity for the multiples, butchers, farm shops, direct sellers and food service sector, to promote and sell more Red Tractor Assured British beef and come together with the whole supply chain.

This year the focus is on quick and easy, thin-cut steaks and mini-roast recipes, celebrating the global influence of beef in many best-loved international dishes.

It’s our chance to promote the many environmental benefits of grass-based beef, as part of the solution to climate change. Nearly half of the UK’s cattle breeds (47%) are produced on our mountains, moorlands, marshes and wetland marshes – land types unsuitable for arable production. 

Suckler beef herds have a critical role in landscape management to preserve the carbon sink and mitigate against greenhouse gases.  They are the most natural of production systems – the very opposite of growth-hormone beef in the US and Australia.

We shall also be championing the importance of beef in a balanced diet for brain, bone, muscle and blood.

High in protein, iron, zinc, Omega 3 and 6 in pasture-based systems, beef has eight essential vitamin B minerals for healthy blood and a strong nervous system; in particular vitamin B 12, not naturally found in plants or vegetables.

So why not join our global celebration in Great British Beef Week and help spread the message about all that is good with British beef?

See more