Why do vegans call substitute foods for meat/milk etc?| Should there be other names for vegan substitute foods?

A while ago i recieved a comment which asked me about… why do vegans call their substitues for the meat/dairy alternative.

I.e oatmilk, vegan cheese, “orange ch*cken”, “b**f stirfry”, eggplant bacon etc

I can’t answer for all vegans, but i can atleast answer for myself and give my thoughts and opinions on this subject.

For some i think it may just be habit… i.e milk is just a liquid “milky” type substance, cheese is a block of of yellow or more creamy like cream cheese or dessert cheese. Sausage, ball and burger are just referring to the shape of the food.


I mean it clearly says meat free on the packaging….

It is just easier to say what the vegan alternative is an alternative FOR than to just recreate a new name. However in 2017 there was an EU law that plant based isn’t allow to be labelled milk and instead has to be called “drink” (An exception to coconut milk in a can…). (source) This is because dairy farmers have claimed that plantbased milk is misleading because people might buy them thinking it has animal milk and then realise it doesn’t………  I have never heard of anyone making that mistake… if anything, i have just heard of vegans making the mistake of buying animal products because the labels havenät been clear and have been misleading….

eu ban vegan milk

Of course what people say when speaking to each other or in text can vary…. some still called plantbased milk for milk and others for drink. There have even been attempts to get the EU to ban vegan cheese and vegan butter/spread from being called cheese or butter…. once again, because it is misleading. But according to the court, as long as there is a descriptive or clarifying word before such as tofu cheese or vegan butter it is ok. And the same goes for vegan fake meat – usually people say soja burgers, soja meatballs, vegan minced meat etc

However, in France “MPs voted to ban terms including “bacon”, “steak”, “sausage” and “cheese” where the product has not come from an animal, on the grounds they can be “misleading” to consumers. (source)

ban vegan france

I personally don’t see how vegan foods can be misleading when they most often have a vegan label or atleast have a clarifying word on the package. But also…. what is so wrong if you accidently buy a vegan option instead of the dairy or animal product? (If you have allergies against something, then i would hope that you would read the ingredients of the new product you plan to buy and eat and not just look at the front pacakage and assume it is ok. Just like with vegans… if you buy something new… read the ingredients first.) So i don’t really see the problem if someone accidenlty buys a vegan alternative, isn’t it just better.

There is of course the argument that as vegans we are trying to move away from eating animals and that it is sort of backward if we still call our food for the non vegan option.

However my personal opinion is that it is just easier. It is mostly out of habit that i call plantbased options the same as the non vegan option, however i usually always say “veggie burger/soja mince/oatmilk/vegan cheese”…. but i know that some vegans don’t. They just call their food for steak/cheese/burger/meatball without clarifying that it is vegan.

I also think it makes it easier for non vegans to maybe try the food if it is something they can relate to. If the food sounds too strange it can deter people from trying.

When it comes to veganizing and recreating recipes i usually just call the vegan version the same as the “Original” recipe i.e vegan orange ch*cken (or i clarify that it is made from seitan and has no chicken), tofu f*sh fingers, eggplant bacon, vegan carbonara, vegan mac and cheese etc

I could of course call those dishes something else such as pasta with vegan cream sauce and roasted eggplant, or pasta with vegan cheese, or breaded and baked tofu. But that doesn’t sound as relatable or understandable to many non vegans. I mean eggplant bacon isn’t bacon…. which should be sort of obvious, and i don’t think i should have to write out… thinly roasted eggplant with liquid smoke so that people don’t accidently think that eggplant bacon is literally bacon?


This of course is just my opinion on this topic.

I understand both sides…. It is both easier and out of habit to call vegan options the same as the non vegan option, but also it is sort of strange when you want to move away from animal products and eating animals.

Feel free to share your opinions on this… i would love to know what YOU think!



5 Comments Add yours

  1. stephanie says:

    To come back on a previous post about the store in with you work, how do you feel when you see a a shopping basket full of dairy, meat, fish, eggs….any weird or painful feeling/ toughts?


    1. Thank you for your question 🙂 I shared my thoughts and feelings on this in a post now!


  2. Lily says:

    The meat and dairy farmers are just afraid of losing their customers😏


    1. yess hahaha. The meat and dairy lobbyists are going to all lengths to try to hinder the growth of vegan products!


  3. carol says:

    I kind of side with the French on this one – I don`t understand how vegetarians/vegans can label foods chicken/beef/fish “style” when their whole ethos of eating is to get away from animal products. Another thing that I cannot understand is why/how vegans can be ok with eating foods that are made up from a whole host of substitute ingredients to enable it to be likened with an animal/dairy product. Surely a diet of whole, natural foods is better rather than replicas of a meat/dairy diet?


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