Arkansas Bans Calling Veggie Burgers Burgers -- Is That Too Much?

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A new law coming into effect this week in Arkansas would prohibit the usage of words such as 'meat', 'sausage' and 'beef' on products that were not made from animals.

In other words, when in Arkansas, we would not be allowed to call a vegetarian burger "burger" or the almond milk ''milk." The Little Rock lawmakers aimed to ban what they called ''misleading" and "confusing" packaging on food products, sources said. In their view, some people may still buy a veggie burger without being explicitly informed that it contained no meat. 

The upcoming prohibition includes using meat-associated words such as "sausage" and "beef" on products that are not made from animals. It would also ban labeling the cauliflower rice as "rice" and soy milk as ''milk." The ban calls for a fine up to USD 1,000 for each violation. 

Arkansas is not alone in that matter. Several other U.S. states, including Missouri, Louisiana, South Dakota, and Mississippi also imposed a similar ban.

Not everyone approves the ban. For instance, some of its opponents claimed it was nothing but an attempt to protect the interests of the traditional agricultural producers from the increasing public interest in vegetarian food. 

Rep. David Hillman (R), who sponsored the bill did not decline the allegation. Moreover, he openly admitted that his goal was to protect the agricultural producers across Arkansas. He was also quoted as saying that you could not sell a Chevy and call it a Cadillac. 

One of the most famous producers of wheat-protein and soy-based products in the U.S., Tofurky, already filed a lawsuit along with the Good Food Institute and the Animal Legal Defense Fund. According to the company, the new law is tailor-made to disadvantage the makers of plant and cell-based meat and to stifle competition.

Tofurky's CEO, Jaime Athos, commented that the consumers opt for meat-free products not because they are ill-informed and mislead by the packaging. In his opinion, buyers prefer plant-based products as they are aware of the environmental and health effects of eating meat.

In the American Civil Liberties Union's (ACLU) view, no one confused meat products with their alternatives nowadays. What is more, ACLU asserted, the consumers were seeking them out more than ever before. The union, which is also part of the lawsuit, argued that the popularity of products such as the Impossible Burger had increased tremendously in recent years.

Stephen Wells, the Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director, added to the discussion saying that consumers started avoiding meat products because of the animal cruelty and the environment. 

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with the statement that the Americans buy veggie burgers or soy milk because the ''confusing'' packaging misleads them?