The mince that divided the nation

Major Australian supermarket Woolworths has started stocking a new plant-based mince meat. Given the rising popularity of plant-based alternative food products, this should seem quite unsurprising. That is, until I tell you that it is being stocked in the meat section.

Having a plant-based mince meat not just alongside but among the animal flesh products is, in my opinion, a huge step forward. While some long time ethical vegans may be bothered by the fact that they have to walk in to this section to get one (a concept I’m not rather fond of, either), they are not the target audience. Rather, the target audience is the growing number of Australians that don’t identify as vegan, but want to include plant-based foods in to their diet.

The product quickly sold out from multiple locations, which appears to have attracted some negative attention as well. [below quotes are from this ABC article]

National Party senator Barry O’Sullivan has demanded Woolworths remove the product (plant-based mince) and re-label it, so the Federal Government does not have to step in.

“Woolworths need to pull it from the shelves today,” Senator Sullivan told the ABC.

Whether you eat plant-based meat or not, the senator’s request is surely ridiculous and anti-competition at the least.

Federal Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Mr. David Littleproud, says ““The labelling and positioning of all food products should accurately reflect what’s in the packet,”

Well, Mr. Littleproud, the labelling is quite accurate. The front label of the product clearly states ‘Minced – 100% plant-based’. ‘Mince’ refers to a process/end product, hence why we haven’t banned ‘mince’ fruit pies. The label doesn’t say meat to my knowledge, but as it is stocked in the meat aisle, I’ll say this: ‘Meat’ does not exclusively refer to animal flesh.

Deputy Prime Minister Mr McCormack “urged anyone confused to contact the ACCC.

“Mince is mince, mince is meat,” he said.

“That’s my interpretation of what mince is.”

Your personal interpretation of a word with a predefined meaning shouldn’t matter. ‘Mince’ does not mean animals. The product is clearly labelled as plant-based. You insult the Australian consumer by insinuating they don’t know that means ‘not animal flesh’.

The Australian Meat Industry Council’s Patrick Hutchinson said “”That [faux-mince] product is a heap of different plants”. How do so many powerful men not know what the word ‘mince’ means? The product isn’t faux-mince, it’s mince, by every definition of the word ‘mince’ that I am aware of. Again, we don’t call them faux-mince fruit pies.

Let’s make one thing clear, more Australians are realising they can source a healthy diet in ways that reduce animal exploitation and suffering as well as environmental impact. This mince product’s success reflects that. Assuming I can get there before the government steps in and does something bordering on insanity, I cant wait to try it.

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