I was reading a news story about the effort in Oklahoma to force "fake meat" companies to label their products correctly. After all, those lab-grown products are plant-based usurpers of real meat's well-earned culinary heritage.
Some peddlers of the stuff use semi-clever ruses to play with the public. Calling it chik'n or turk'y makes it foul, not fowl. A veggie burger is nothing more than a load of smashed beans, not a real beef patty. And saus'age? If that term doesn't insult your intelligence, you have none.
Suddenly, over my second cup of morning coffee, the phrase "stolen valor" entered my conscious mind. Understand, I'm not claiming that it is quite the same moral crime as hijacking the reputation of someone who has been valorous in service to our country. Risking life and limb in battle is far more honorable, but the concept? Yeah, it still works.
Jacqui Fatka, Policy Editor at Feedstuffs and Farm Futures, recently wrote: "The Plant Based Foods Assn. (PBFA), the trade association representing more than 170 plant-based food companies, and Upton's Naturals — a small, independently owned maker of plant-based foods based in Chicago, Ill., and a founding board member of PBFA — joined forces with the Institute for Justice (IJ) to file a federal lawsuit challenging a new Oklahoma food labeling law as a violation of the First Amendment.
"During the 2020 Oklahoma legislative session, Rep. Toni Hasenbeck (R.) and Sen. Micheal Bergstrom (R.) authored HB 3806, which addresses labeling alternatives, or "fake," meat products. The new law in Oklahoma, which takes effect Nov. 1, 2020, requires that a company include a disclaimer on its label as large and prominent as the product's name stating that the food is plant based," she wrote.
Standing ready to defend HB 3806 is the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Assn. and the Oklahoma Pork Council. I hope the National Cattlemen's Beef Assn. and the National Pork Producers Council are joining in the effort.
It seems to be simple — calling a thing what it really is — and I think any self-respecting vegan or vegetarian group would agree. Taking pride in your beliefs and your products should be paramount. Hiding behind a false front to further your aims is too close to stolen valor.
The feds should take heed of the several state initiatives and issue their own rules. Because it's often difficult to determine which department — the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the Food & Drug Administration — is responsible for overseeing chik'n-like products and an FDA-issued rule without USDA concurrence would end up as a years-long court battle about proper jurisdiction, I suggest that both agencies issue the same rule using the same words.
It's quickly becoming a major product line, too, no longer the odd little curiosity found in a few off-the-beaten-track health food emporiums. I did a little searching and found this list of current "stolen valor" products (labels and product lists included):
Products include gluten-free vegan meatless pepperoni pizza, organic California veggie burger, Sonoma veggie burger, all-American veggie burger, black bean veggie burger, meatless veggie meatballs, meatless veggie sausages, quarter pound veggie burger and veggie loaf meal.
2. Beyond Meat
Products include Beyond Burger, Beyond Beef, Beyond Sausage and Beyond Beef Crumbles.
Products include all-American veggie burger, original chik'n veggie patties, spicy chik'n veggie patties, original turk' y veggie patties, Southwest taco skillet, Mexican style bowl, Mediterranean style bowl, original falafel bites, chipotles falafel bites and original chick'n veggie nuggets.
4. Field Roast
Products include bratwurst sausage, smoked apple sage sausage, Italian sausage, Mexican chipotle sausage, frankfurters, apple maple breakfast sausage, lentil sage deli slices, wild mushroom deli slices, smoked tomato deli slices, Fieldburger, celebration roast, hazelnut cranberry roast en croute, celebration roast with traditional bread stuffing and mushroom gravy, classic meatloaf, miniature corn dogs, fruffalo wings and sunflower country style katsu cutlet.
Products include turk' y cutlet, chick'n strips, Mandarin crispy chick'n, seven-grain crispy tenders, chick'n scallopini, teriyaki chick'n strips, crispy chick'n patty, chipotle lime fingers, chick'n sliders, barbecue chick'n wings, sliced Italian saus'age, spicy breakfast saus'age patties, original breakfast saus'age patties, sweet and sour workless bites, black bean sliders, garden veggie burger, black bean burger, beefless ground, beefless slider, meatless meatballs, beefless tips, Szechuan beefless strips, ultimate beefless burger, mini crabless cakes, golden fishless filet, stea'k and e'ggs breakfast bowl, Southwest saus'age and veggie breakfast bowl, saus'age and homestyle gravy breakfast bowl, orange beefless bowl, teriyaki chick'n bowl, Italian saus'age and pasta bowl, chick'n fajita bowl, Italian style rigatoni n' saus'age, chick'n Florentino, chick'n fiesta, Asian style chick'n fried rice, breakfast pockets, meals pizza pockets and BBQ porkless pocket meal.
6. Impossible Foods
This is another popular fake meat brand that specializes in fake burgers made from soy and potato proteins: Impossible Burger. As of this writing, you can find the Impossible Burger and other products at chain restaurants like Burger King, Applebees, Fatburger, Dave & Busters, White Castle, Red Robin, Cheesecake Factory, Qdoba and Little Caesars.
7. Lightlife Foods
Products include plant-based burgers, smart dogs, smart tenders savory chick'n, plant-based ground, smart ground Mexican, smart ground original, Gimme lean beef, Gimme lean sausage, smart bacon, smart sausages Italian, chorizo smart sausages, smart deli bologna, smart deli ham, smart deli pepperoni, smart deli turkey, chickpea and red pepper veggie deli slices, white bean and kale veggie deli slices, original tempeh and organic smoky tempeh strips.
8. MorningStar Farms
These veggie products cook, sizzle and even taste like the real thing, according to the company. Products include buffalo wings, chik'n nuggets, veggie dogs, corn dogs, parmesan garlic wings, BBQ chik'n nuggets, buffalo chik'n patties, original chik patties, grillers prime burgers, spicy black bean burgers, Mediterranean chickpea burger, tomato and basil pizza burgers, original burgers, meat lovers vegan burger, veggie lovers vegan burger, falafel burger, Tex Mex burger, garden veggie burger, cheeseburger,
bacon strips, original sausage patties, veggie breakfast sausage links, hot and spicy sausage patties, maple flavored sausage patties, chipotle black bean crumbles, grillers crumbles, chik'n strips, steak strips, pulled pork, chorizo crumbles, spicy Indian veggie burgers, roasted garlic and quinoa burgers and white bean chili burgers.
Low-fat, vegetarian versions of popular products include meatless gourmet burgers, meatless breakfast patties, meatless patties, meatless spicy patties, vegan meatless spicy patties, meatless buffalo dippers, vegan fishless sticks, vegan meatless chipotle cutlets, vegan meatless pieces, meatless vegan fillets, vegan meatless spicy patties, meatless meatballs, meatless grounds, meatless roast, meatless fillets, meatless nuggets, meatless sharp cheese cutlets, meatless chipotle cutlets and meatless pesto and mozzarella cutlets.
10. Simply Balanced
This Target brand offers a few soy-based meatless meat options that can be purchased in the frozen aisle at most Target stores. Products include Korean barbecue meatless chicken, teriyaki meatless chicken, smoky chipotle meatless chicken and mushroom miso meatless turkey.
11. Sweet Earth Natural Foods
These vegetarian prepared foods include protein lover's pizza, Chinese chik'n, Cubano empanada, aloha BBQ quesadilla, protein lover's breakfast burrito, harmless ham and chickpea patty, benevolent bacon, harmless ham, Tuscan veggie sausage, fresh (or frozen) Santa Fe veggie burger, fresh (or frozen) teriyaki veggie burger, fresh (or frozen) Mediterranean veggie burger, traditional seitan slices and Tuscany savory grounds.
This company says it is an animal-friendly brand offering high-protein products that are almost all vegan and certified non-genetically modified organism. Products include lightly seasoned slow roasted chick'n, Thai basil slow roasted chick'n, sesame garlic slow roasted chick'n, barbecue slow roasted chick'n, smoked ham deli slices, oven roasted deli slices, peppered deli slices, hickory smoked deli slices, bologna deli slices, spinach pesto sausage, andouille sausage, Italian sausage, kielbasa, beer brats, chorizo ground, ground beef style, pepp'roni pocket, turk'y broccoli cheddar, ham and ched'ar, ham roast with glaze, year round ham roast, roast, roast and gravy, feat, smokey maple bacon tempeh, sesame garlic tempeh, organic five grain tempeh and original soy cake.
13. Trader Joe's
Trader Joe's has a bunch of vegan options, along with some frozen and non-frozen fake meat items. Products include beef-less ground beef, soy chorizo, chickenless crispy tenders, hi-protein veggie burger, meatless meatballs, vegan tikka masala and vegetable masala burger.
14. Tyson Raised and Rooted
Tyson, the largest meat producer in the U.S., unveiled a new alternative protein product line that focuses on plant-based products, including nuggets and blended patties.
This natural foods company focuses on meat alternatives. Products include sriracha jackfruit, sweet and smoky jackfruit, original jackfruit, Thai curry jackfruit, chili lime jackfruit, bar-b-cue jackfruit, classic burger, ground seitan, traditional seitan, Italian seitan, chorizo seitan, chicken seitan, bacon seitan, Thai spaghetti, Thai curry noodle, pad see ew, Massaman curry, ch'eesy bacon mac, original ch'eesy mac, tarragon ginger lime jerky bites, tamarind pepperoni jerky bites, pineapple pink peppercorn jerky bites and smoky original jerky bites.
16. Yves Veggie Cuisine
Products include falafel balls, kale and quinoa bites, broccoli bites, sweet potato and chickpea bites, gluten free burger, kale and root vegetable patties, the good veggie burger, original veggie ground round, veggie taco stuffers, garden veggie crumble, good dog, jumbo veggie dogs, veggie tofu dogs, veggie dogs, bologna deli slices, ham deli slices, turkey deli slices, salami deli slices and pepperoni deli slices.