French butchers have been accused of trying to ban vegan bacon because it tastes too realistic.
The row broke out as France prepares to outlaw plant-based foods being sold using terms such as “sausage”, “steak” or “bacon” which traditionally apply to meat products.
INAPORC, a pork industry association, served company La Vie with formal notice for “unfair competition” for its vegan lardons.
It said they risked “deceiving consumers” into thinking they were buying meat lardons and said their advertising campaign, which urged customers to “try pork without pork”, “threw discredit” on their industry.
La Vie took out a full back page advert in French newspaper Le Parisien to hit back at the meat lobbyists.
It read: "Dear pork lobby. Thanks for the compliment. We think that your pork lardons are indistinguishable from our veggie lardons. Would you mind changing your recipe?"
This is printed on a mocked-up postcard, with the address printed on the right and room for a stamp, and an invitation for fake meat fans to send it to INAPORC.
“The pork lobby is attacking us because our veggie lardons are indistinguishable from pork lardons” the advert read, “Help us defend ourselves, by sending them this letter”.
France would be first to ban 'meaty' words
The labelling ban on plant-based foods is meant to prevent shoppers being confused between vegetarian and meat meals.
Critics argue that it is unnecessary and will harm a new industry that is good for the environment because it reduces meat consumption.
France’s Council of State said: "It will no longer be possible to use terms proper to sectors traditionally associated with meat and fish to designate products not belonging to the animal world."
The ban was delayed on July 27 to give the industry time to make appropriate changes to branding and marketing.
It is expected to enter into force in October but it is thought there will be efforts to water down or change the law before then.
“This law is going completely in the opposite direction of two official priorities of the French government: the fight against global warming and the reindustrialisation of France,” Nicholas Schweitzer, CEO of La Vie, told Plant Based News.
If the ban goes ahead France, a traditionally carnivorous country, will be the first to ban vegan brands using “meaty” words.
Last year, Michelin awarded its first ever French star to a vegan restaurant in a sign of a shifting cuisine culture in the land of “steak frites”. French schools must provide a daily vegetarian option in their canteens after new rules were introduced last year.