Today I read the news that EU lawmakers are set to vote on the fate of “veggie burgers”. If this new legislation comes about, we might see the end to vegan products being advertised as “steaks” or “sausages”.
It’s illegal under European law to call a plant based drink ‘milk’. Extending this to meat substitutes seems to cause mixed reactions amongst my vegan friends and patients. Some dislike the notion of any association with meat, so would prefer alternative wording. Others don’t see any issues – after all, if you call something a plant based steak or sausage, you know the sort of texture or taste you’re going to get. Granted, the latter group includes those people who were previously on mixed diets and are looking for the same rich flavours in their new vegan eating plan.
Whatever they’re named, I am calling for such products to be nutritionally comparable to the meat alternatives by ensuring they contain high quality protein and micronutrients from ingredients such as nuts, tofu, seitan, mycoprotein, seeds and whole grains. In my research for Vegan Savvy: The Expert’s Guide to Nutrition on a Plant-based Diet, I found that most vegan ready meals and fast foods were low in nutrients like long chain omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12 and iodine. Further, many failed to provide adequate protein for a main meal.