food fight

Europe Declares War on ‘Veggie Burgers’

A veggie burger from Shake Shack. Photo: Christine Han/Shake Shack

As many self-satisfied carnivores have no doubt asked their bean-eating friends, “Has anyone ever confused a veggie burger for a burger?” The short answer is no — which is not to denigrate veggie burgers — and yet Europe has declared a war of nomenclature on vegetable-based products using the names of meaty things. This is an encouraging sign in these trying times for our world, when it is important that we, as a species, focus on what matters.

Last week, an amendment was proposed to the European Union’s agricultural committee, which would make it so that veggie burgers could not be called, well, burgers. The rule was introduced by a French member of parliament, one Éric Andrieu, who told the Guardian that words like “steak” ought to “be kept for real steak with meat.” There are, unsurprisingly, suspicions that the European meat lobby might be behind this, which might explain why the new terms proposed include the remarkably unappetizing “veggie disc” and “veggie tubes.” Might Grub suggest “veggie puck”? Impossible Disc just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

The proposal won’t be taken up by the whole E.U. until after elections in May, but it immediately caused drama for its transparent silliness. A Green Party member from Britain, Molly Scott Cato, rightly pointed out to the Times that phrases like “veggie burger” are no big deal. Greenpeace has even stated the incredibly obvious, which is that people buy, like, rutabaga-tofu sausages because they do not contain meat — no one is being duped in some nefarious vegan scheme. However, some Americans seem to think that chocolate milk comes from brown cows. For that reason, Grub cannot stand behind Michele Simon of the San Francisco–based Plant Based Foods Association when she tells the Times that “nobody thinks their almond milk comes from a cow.”

Europe Declares War on ‘Veggie Burgers’