Dairy industry gets sour with vegan ‘cheese’ mongers
Can plant-based dairy-free stuff really be called cheese?
Veganism is all the rage – “rage” being the operative word. Often non-vegans feel vegans are preachy, judgmental and aggressive in promoting their views. Vegans can, likewise, claim the same – how often are they not berated for their choices? This time, however, it’s the dairy industry’s turn to come down on vegan cheese.
The UK’s first vegan cheese-only shop, La Fauxmagerie, opened in London on February 8. On its website, sisters Charlotte and Rachel Stevens describe their plant-based cheeses as the UK’s “most delicious, decadent and inspired plant-based cheeses”.
The sisters sell award-winning cashew, almond, soy and brown-rice based cheeses from brands across the UK.
Dairy UK, however, is less than impressed with the vegan-cheese undertaking on the streets of Brixton. Three days after La Fauxmagerie’s launch, The Telegraph reported that Dairy UK planned to challenge La Fauxmagerie’s use of the word “cheese”, citing an EU ruling on the protection of dairy terms. A spokesperson for Dairy UK said: “Dairy UK has a duty to ensure the nutritional and health benefits of real dairy are recognised by and communicated to consumers. It concerns us that consumers are being misled with the use of dairy terms like cheese by the plant-based sector.”
The sisters responded by challenging the etymology and meaning of the word “cheese” and standing by their trade.
The combination of the words “vegan” and “cheese” are not only a problem in the UK, it seems.
Blue Heron, a small vegan cheese shop in Vancouver, Canada, was sent an e-mail by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) in January, instructing the shop to stop using the word “cheese” in marketing its products.
Blue Heron doesn’t use the word “cheese” on its labels but it does use the description on its website and social media accounts.
The Globe and Mail reported that the Blue Heron had requested if it would be acceptable practice for them to use hyphenated modifiers, such as plant-based or dairy-free, but they were told this was also not acceptable.
The article reported that the CFIA words its regulations on a definition of cheese based on its composition. It needs to be made from milk or milk products that are produced from the mammary glands of animals.
It is obvious why the dairy industry feels threatened. Vegan diets and alternative options have never been as popular and consumer tastes and trends are changing. In 2017 Forbes reported that the global vegan cheese market is estimated to be worth just under $4bn, and likely to be more than R55bn by 2024.