The Missouri Senate recently passed an omnibus bill which forbids plant-based meat substitutes and lab-grown products from being labeled using the word “meat.” If this bill is signed into law by Governor Eric Greitens, Missouri will become the first state to have such legislation.

Unsurprisingly, the prohibitive bill has garnered support from agricultural organizations across the state, including the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association (MCA), the Missouri Farm Bureau, and the Missouri Pork Association. National organizations like the United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) have also expressed their support for the bill and its principles.

Kenny Graner, the president of the USCA and a long-time North Dakota rancher, reportedly tried to justify the need for the bill as follows: “U.S. cattle producers take pride in developing the highest quality, and safest, beef in the world, and labels must clearly distinguish that difference.”

U.S. farmers and ranchers certainly work hard to provide the nation with meat from animal sources. However, the people working to develop healthy, environmentally-friendly meat alternatives which don’t require the slaughtering of cows, pigs or chickens are also doing a tough job, all for the good of our planet and its inhabitants!

As critics of the bill have pointed out, the proposal seems like an attempt by the food animal industry to sabotage the “fake” meat industry, which has steadily grown in recent years as the public has become more aware of the many benefits of switching to a plant-based diet.

The act seeks to prevent “misrepresentation” of products that do not come from harvested animals as “meat.” However, as Jessica Almy, director of policy at the Good Food Institute, pointed out in an interview with Mother Jones, “Misrepresentation is already prohibited by federal law; the intent of this bill is to censor labeling terms in plant-based products.” Furthermore, Almy made the very valid point that the label “plant-based meat” makes it quite clear that the product originates from plants. The blaring reality here is consumers aren’t buying them because they are “confused,” they are buying them because they don’t want anything to do with the numerous health, animal welfare, and environmental concerns that come with meat!

Without the continued ability to use this term on labels, plant-based meat manufacturers will have a difficult time describing their products … but we have a feeling that even that won’t encourage consumers to go running back to good ole, familiar meat!

As the facts show, around one-third of Americans are leaving meat off the menu more frequently. A recent poll found that 47 percent of U.S. adults support a BAN on slaughterhouses and 53 percent of participants would PREFER to eat clean meat (lab-grown cultured meat) instead of animal-based meat if the price was competitive.

Further, the plant-based meat market is set to hit $5 billion by 2020 and the icing on top of all of this is the reality that even meat giants like Cargill and Tyson are buying into plant-based and “clean” meat companies. Rather than harping on the “high quality and safety” of your beef in an attempt to salvage your falling margins, various cattlemen agencies, why not make a sustainable income by getting into plant-based? After all, it doesn’t matter what you call it … people will always buy the products they actually want.

We totally side with Almy and other opponents of the bill, and we’re crossing our fingers that the governor of Missouri will recognize that this proposed legislation is unnecessary and would seriously stifle the alternative meat industry and its efforts to save our planet!

To learn more about the environmental impact of meat consumption and the benefits of plant-based foods, check out the #EatForThePlanet book. 

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