Vegans say they'll fight SA govt on words like 'biltong', but prefer 'amicable resolution'

Business Insider SA
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)
  • South Africa's Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development says plant-based foods with meaty names are against the law.
  • "Vegan biltong", "plant-based meatballs", and "vegetarian sausages" are just some of the products the department has threatened to seize.
  • Producers and consumers of these plant-based products have criticised government's hard-line approach.
  • The South African Vegan Society is the latest group to voice its disdain, saying it's considering "legal remedies" but would "hope to reach an amicable resolution" with the department.
  • For more stories go to

South Africa's Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) has declared war on plant-based products using names associated with processed meats.

Plant-based foods have no business riding on the coattails of processed meats, according to the recent notices issued by the DALRRD.

The first notice, published by the department on 22 June, warned that meat analogues labelled as "vegan biltong", "plant-based meatballs", and "chorizo and red pepper vegetarian sausages", among others, are in violation of regulations promulgated in 2019.

"Meat analogues must not use the product names prescribed and reserved for processed meat products, since the scope of the abovementioned regulation does not include meat analogues," the department said in its statement.

The department added that the Food Safety Agency would seize these plant-based products that use terms associated with meat from retailers' shelves. A follow-up statement, published by the department on Wednesday, reiterated the threat of seizure should products not be relabelled to exclude all mention of meat-related terms.

The department's hard-line approach to plant-based foods referencing well-known meat products has been heavily criticised by South African producers of vegan and vegetarian goods. The choir of criticism has also been joined by animal rights organisations.

"This is extremely concerning, especially as such products have already been on the South African market for a number of years and are well entrenched in the food system," said Animal Law Reform South Africa.

"These products have been serving as alternatives for members of the public who do not wish to consume animals and animal products for various reasons."

The South African Vegan Society (SAVS) has also expressed its outrage.

"This notice will have catastrophic consequences on many stakeholders, namely, producers of plant-based food products, retailers, and consumers," said Anna Jordan, director at the SAVS, told Business Insider SA.

"We are in the process of considering the legal remedies available to stakeholders and intend on engaging the department and hope to reach an amicable resolution."

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