Arlington, Va.—Laws banning vegan and vegetarian foods from using common meat terms such as “burger” and “bacon” passed in several states earlier this year. Today, a new First Amendment lawsuit was launched against one of these laws in Arkansas. Upton’s Naturals and the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA), represented by the Institute for Justice (IJ), are currently suing Mississippi over its similar law and announce their support for the plaintiffs in Arkansas.
“Vegan food companies have a First Amendment right to use commonly understood terms on our labels,” said Dan Staackmann, founder and owner of Upton’s Naturals. “We are very glad to see another protectionist state law challenged in court today. Upton’s Naturals proudly labels the foods we sell in Arkansas and across the country as ‘vegan’ and would never seek to confuse consumers about what they are purchasing.”
“The plant-based meat category is growing in popularity, as much as 37 percent since last year,” said Michele Simon, PBFA’s executive director. “In response, meat industry lobbyists keep pushing protectionist laws state by state. We’re proud to fight on behalf of our members in Mississippi and fully support the lawsuit against Arkansas over its similar, anti-competitive law.”
“Businesses have a First Amendment right to use words that consumers understand,” said IJ Managing Attorney Justin Pearson, the lead attorney in the Mississippi lawsuit. “No one thinks a food labeled ‘vegan hotdog’ contains meat. That’s why it is labeled ‘vegan.’”