Nondairy Plant based Vegan Milks

What You Need To Know About Amendment 171

On May 24, 2021, the European Union, or, EU, decided to withdraw Amendment 171—a piece of legislation that would ban the use of marketing descriptions traditionally associated with animal-produced dairy products in plant-based alternatives.

ProVeg International, a vegan non-governmental organization, or, NGO, credited the 457,000 signatories of its anti-AM171 petition for the EU’s withdrawal of the controversial legislation. 

In their petition, ProVeg argued that the legislation “would be a huge reversal of the work done so far to meet the EU’s own goals on public health and sustainability, as agreed under the terms of the Paris Agreement. Given the urgency of the climate crisis, it’s a highly irresponsible move.”

In October 2020, the EU voted to move forward with AM171, a move largely supported by the dairy industry. Plant-based companies in the EU were already prohibited from naming their products using terms like ‘milk’ or ‘yogurt’, based on EU regulations established in 2017.

Photo courtesy of Animal Save Movement

Oatly, the oat drink company, published an infographic on their website (which has thus been removed) providing examples of the increased marketing restrictions that AM171 would enforce. 

These examples included: 

  • “Plant based products can’t be described as an ‘alternative to’ dairy products” 
  • “[Plant-based companies] can’t communicate climate impact comparisons (or any comparisons) between plant-based and dairy products” 
  • and “Plant-based products can’t be called ‘creamy’, since the creaminess was not provided by a cow.”

In addition to Oatly and ProVeg, other opponents of AM171 included The Vegan Society, Greenpeace, and environmental activist Greta Thunberg. 

Greta Thunberg
Environmental activist Greta Thunberg . Photo: Andy Bosselman courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

“Plant-based products are already banned from using terms like ‘milk’ or ‘butter’ – despite there being not a single piece of evidence to suggest consumers are confused by these denominations,” said Louise Davies, head of policy at The Vegan Society, according to Natural Products.

This victory for the creators of plant-based products is one among several recent victories for plant-based product producers. 

Miyoko’s Creamery, a California company that creates plant-based products, won a lawsuit in August regarding its use of the terms “dairy,” “butter” and “cruelty-free” on the packaging for its vegan non-dairy products.

Miyoko's Creamery Vegan Butter with Sea Salt
Photo by Miyoko’s Creamery

The Good Food Institute said in a Twitter thread that the decision to drop AM171 “must signal the end of absurd labeling restrictions on plant-based foods at all levels of government in Europe … Instead of wasting time with pointless proposals, EU leaders should put their climate ambitions into action and support consumers to make sustainable choices.”

Mikaela Stiner
Mikaela Stiner

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