Vegan products have been using words traditionally associated with meat – veggie burgers, Quorn sausages, soya escalopes and seitan steaks. Now in a light-hearted swipe at this tendency, a Welsh butcher from has turned the tails on this one and created “carrots” made from high-quality pork.
“They’re just pork kebabs really,” said Tom Samways, owner of T Samways High-Class Butchers in Cardigan, Wales in an interview with Wales Online.
With so much vegan food being named after meat products, he decided for a bit of a laugh to create some meat “carrots” comprising of pork mince with an orange Italian herb dressing glaze with some parsley added at the end to make the produce actually look like a carrot.
“They’re just pork kebabs really,” said Tom the creator of the meat alternative to the carrot.
“A bit of a joke”
“Everyone loved them. It started out as a bit of a joke, they were just a gimmick – but they have gone down well and we’ll be making more.” Furthermore, after Tom posted a picture of his carrots on Twitter it has been retweeted more than 12,000 times and liked by more than 64,000 people. The reaction has, in Tom’s words, been “mental”.
The butchers sold nearly 300 “carrots” on the first day. Of course, they will now stock more.
“The idea came from the fact that a lot of vegan food is named after meat products, like vegan sausages and vegan chicken,” said Tom. “I just thought, well, let’s make a meat version of vegan food”.
Tom says that he has nothing against veganism or vegans. He does, however, say that he’s had a bit of a backlash over it, including some not particularly nice reactions – “but at the end of the day, it’s just a joke” he said.
Despite the surge in veganism, he has not seen the trend harming his business. Sales have actually gone up recently as people look to local suppliers rather than supermarkets.
He said: “I don’t know if veganism is a fad or not, but I haven’t noticed a drop in sales. At first, I was a bit concerned, especially during Veganuary but if anything I’ve seen an increase in sales. We’re definitely up every month.
“I think it’s because people are a lot more aware of where their food comes from now. A lot of customers come in wanting high-class meat from a Welsh farm. They don’t want to get it from a supermarket anymore.
“I don’t have anything against vegans or businesses that change their products to suit demand – you have to do what works for you. But people who come to my butchers are meat-eaters.”
Food nomenclature is controversial
The whole issue of vegan food taking on the nomenclature of the meat and dairy industries has not been without controversy. In many instances, it is the existing traditional industries which have objected to vegan burgers, sausages and escalopes. They have lobbied to require the use of terms such as veggie discs, Quorn tubes, soya slices and seitan steaks.
Last year European bureaucrats were busy protecting the European meat industry. The European Parliaments Agriculture Committee voted in April 2019 that names currently used for meat products and meat preparations shall be reserved exclusively for products containing meat. These words would include Steak, Sausage, Escalope, Burger, Hamburger and so on.
The text mirrored a European Court of Justice ruling regarding on milk, which says that terms whey, cream, butter, cheese and yoghurt are reserved for dairy products only and cannot be used to designate a plant-based product, such as soya or tofu.
The ECJ ruled that EU laws are in place to protect animal products, in a case referred from Germany involving the German food company TofuTown (which sells plant-based products with names including ‘Soyatoo Tofu Butter’ and ‘Veggie Cheese’.) The company maintained its customers were not misled as the products’ plant origins are quite clear. The court held that, in principle, for the purposes of marketing and advertising, the relevant legislation reserves the term ‘milk’ only for the milk of animal origin.
In California, Miyoko Schinner is suing the California Department of Food and Agriculture to allow plant-based manufacturers to use traditional words so that consumers would understand what the products are in the context of clear labelling. She sees it as a free speech issue.