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Meat And Dairy Industries Are Having A Cow About The Vegan Boom

One of the hottest growth stocks this year is Beyond Meat, which those Millenials just love. Plant-based, vegan-friendly food and their respective stocks are, on the whole, having a moment of late. That’s great, right? Fun new stocks that cut down our carbon footprint and, maybe, our collective waistlines? It certainly is a nice way for shareholders to get their ESG on. Everybody’s happy, right? Not exactly. While the meat and dairy replacement industry is booming, the o.g. meat and dairy industries haven’t been shy about using their lobbying power to stay keep their stock prices beefy. Where’s The Beef? As of this week, a new law in Mississippi forbids plant-based food companies from using terms like “veggie burgers” or “veggie hot dogs,” as burgers and such can only refer to food from an animal. Proponents of the law are simply worried that consumers might get confused, you see. This move comes on the heels of a similar law passed in Missouri last year, as well as a recent report that the dairy lobby in Wisconsin, in response to the growing popularity of vegan alternatives (plant-based milk retail sales totaled $1.8 billion for the year ending May 25) are similarly petitioning lawmakers to lay claim to terms like “milk” and “butter.” A bipartisan bill requiring the FDA to have stricter labels has been introduced in the Senate; it would require milk to mean “the product comes from a ‘hooved mammal.’” Calling Bull Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation President Mike McCormick has said this bill will protect cattle farmers from having to compete with non-animal food. But the Plant-Based Food Association isn’t here for the idea that consumers don’t understand what they’re buying and are suing, arguing that banning terms like “veggie burger” makes things more confusing. Milk It While the appetite for vegan-friendly food is undoubtedly growing, the demand for plant-based meat is still only a fraction of the overall demand for meat. But expect these label battles to continue, as the eco-conscious food movement is clearly feeling bullish. -Michael Tedder Photo: Adrees Latif / REUTERS

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