They’re wholly consumed by Brexit and at loggerheads with each other, other parties and the rest of the world. The dire state of the NHS barely gets a look in, let alone the housing crisis. It’s safe to say our government is in turmoil.
On the other side of the channel, however, our francophone friends have different priorities. In France, a new law last month sent vegan sausages, beetroot burgers and cauliflower steaks to the slaughterhouse. No longer can they adopt names associated with their meaty rivals. The proposal came from MP Jean-Baptiste Moreau. According to the carnivore, naming vegetarian sausages as ‘sausages’ is misleading. That’s an insult to French people. Surely they can distinguish between a juicy beef burger and Linda McCartney’s meatless version.
Why have they done this? I refuse to believe it’s to protect the naive shopper from mistaking a vegan sausage for a pork one. With 200,000 cattle farmers and Europe’s largest cattle herd, France boasts a mega-meat industry they are desperate to preserve. It evidently feels threatened by their plant-based opposition. Such futile measures from the meat community should be regarded as a compliment to the vegan and vegetarian opposition.
This attack against vegetarianism is unwarranted. What about chocolate eggs? They’re not eggs. Or peanut butter. There’s no butter in that. And even Walker’s Roast Chicken, Prawn Cocktail and Smoky Bacon crisps are suitable for vegetarians. The meat industry display serious double standards, too, with the labelling of chicken ‘drumsticks’; you’d have a hard time playing the drums with them.
Names are arbitrary. What does the word ‘sausage’ mean anyway? Is it referring to its content of pork or just meat in general? Is ‘sausage’ describing the long rounded shape? Sausage dogs are not made of pork, as far as I know, so I assume the name comes from their elongated bodies.
But fear not! If the vegetarian suppliers can play their cards well, I reckon they could get round this naming dilemma. Just spell ‘sausages’ phonetically: ‘sosijes’. And ‘steak’ can be ‘stake’. Some suppliers have already played with words; I recall seeing ‘tofurkey’ on the shelves at the supermarket.
All that matters is whether the customer is being deceived. With ‘vegan’, ‘vegetarian’ and ‘veggie’ boldly printed across the packaging, there is no concern of deception. Such products even have a designated aisle in the supermarket. What is wrong is labelling horse meat as chicken or beef. Or being served reindeer instead of beef kebabs, which is what happened to my parents in Finland. But thank you, French government, for humouring me with your desperate attempt to keep sausages, burgers and steak meaty. A giggle is all you’ve achieved.