Lawsuits Keep Rolling Back Unconstitutional Vegan ‘Meat’ Bans
Tofurky is a food that may be best known as, say, the meat-free entrée your cousin’s vegan boyfriend insists on eating at the Thanksgiving table, potentially perturbing your cousin’s carnivorous dad—the one who killed, gutted, scalded, plucked, brined, seasoned, stuffed, and roasted the actual turkey on the table.
One thing Tofurky and similar meat alternatives are not known for? Kicking ass. But that may be changing.
Last month, a federal court ruled an Arkansas law that banned makers of meat alternatives such as Tofurky from using commonly understood words to describe their products was unconstitutional.
“The law prohibited the labeling of any food product as ‘meat’ unless that food product was derived from livestock, and it banned such terms as ‘veggie sausage’ and ‘veggie burger’ from food labeling in Arkansas,” the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported in the wake of the court’s ruling. The same court had in 2019 granted Tofurky an injunction preventing the state from enforcing the law shortly after it took effect and the suit was filed.
The Arkansas law, U.S. District Court Judge Kristine Baker explained in her ruling, unconstitutionally barred Tofurky from “convey[ing] meaningful, helpful information to consumers about the products they are purchasing, and Tofurky’s repeated indications that the food products contained in these packages contain no animal-based meat dispel consumer confusion.”
The Arkansas suit is one of several filed by Tofurky and others—including other vegan-food producers and the American Civil Liberties Union, Good Food Institute, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Plant-Based Foods Association, and Institute for Justice—against several states that have adopted laws similar to that in Arkansas.
Last year, another lawsuit—this one filed by Upton’s Naturals—forced Mississippi’s agriculture department, which adopted rules similar to those in Arkansas at the behest of the state’s powerful beef lobby, to backtrack and amend those rules.
“Under the new regulation, which officially took effect today, plant-based foods will not be considered to be labeled as a ‘meat’ or ‘meat food product’ if their label also describes the food as: ‘meat-free,’ ‘meatless,’ ‘plant-based,’ ‘vegetarian,’ ‘vegan’ or uses
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