This week is National Vegetarian Week and people across the country are being encouraged to try new veggie recipes, cut back on meat and choose more meat-free alternatives. Will you be joining in?
In the UK, meat alternatives (such as soy-protein burgers and sausages) are more popular than ever. This growing market is valued at between £250m and £300m annually, and the meat industry is starting to see it eat into their profits.
In France, this shift to plant-based alternatives has led to new legislation that bans products based on non-animal ingredients from being given ‘meat names’. This means that names like ‘burger’, ‘sausage’ and ‘bacon’ will not be allowed on vegetarian products.
Ode to a veggie sausage
I’ve been a vegetarian for just over a year, and while I cook most of my meals from scratch, sometimes I am in the mood for a low-effort, quick and comforting meal – at those moments I turn to a trusty veggie sausage.
I’ve tried them all, Quorn, Linda McCartney, Good Life and Cauldron. My favourites are the Linda McCartney Red Onion and Rosemary Sausages – pop them in a sarnie with brown sauce, or with paired with mash and onion gravy – what’s not to love?
But if you’ve ever eaten a vegetarian sausage, you’ll know that taking the word ‘sausage’ off the packet won’t be the only giveaway that it’s not meat. While the meat-free alternatives are a good source of protein and satisfy a craving, the taste and texture just isn’t the same as a real pork sausage.
In my opinion, renaming vegetarian products won’t reduce the demand for these types of foods. They will remain a convenient option for vegetarians, vegans and for those just trying to reduce their meat intake. For whatever reason, be it ethical, environmental or health reasons, people are choosing to make meat-free alternatives a regular part of their diet, and a bit of legislation isn’t going to stop that.
Perhaps the meat industry would be better off focusing on the reasons people are choosing not to eat their products, instead of trying to suppress the meat alternatives market.
What do you think of the ban? Would taking meat names of vegetarian products make you less likely to buy them? Will you be reducing your meat intake for National Vegetarian Week?