Activists in Europe are fighting for a legal definition of ‘vegan‘ and ‘vegetarian.’
While these might seem like silly fights, they are, in fact, incredibly important. Without a legal definition, particularly a definition for the food industry to abide by, brands can slap ‘vegan’ on anything they want and, technically, they wouldn’t be breaking the law. It’s a scary reality for plant-based eaters and for anyone who follows a specific diet.
The EU Labelling Regulation 1169/2011 requires that the European Commission define these terms to make it clear whether products are or are not suitable for vegans and vegetarians. The downside to this regulation, however, is that there is no specific deadline. That means that this could get placed on the backburner for some time.
The European Vegetarian Union (EVU) submitted a call to define these terms to the commission through the REFIT platform, which gives a voice to stakeholders to help make the laws more effective. Across the nation, there is support for guidelines to be established because it shouldn’t be asking a lot to know what food is safe for you to eat, whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, or have food allergies.
Germany, as one example, already developed legal definitions for ‘vegan‘ and ‘vegetarian‘ in 2016. Despite this, and the support for definitions via the REFIT platform, there has been no concrete plan shared with the people about when and if this defining will take place.