First, it was Marks & Spencer’s cauliflower steak. Then it was Gregg’s vegan sausage rolls. Now, just when you thought you had survived Veganuary, there’s chease.
Yes, you read that right – chease. But, no matter how it's spelled, the dairy industry is not happy about plant-based alternatives masquerading as the real thing.
Lobby group Dairy UK has written to the owners of Britain's first fully vegan cheesemonger, La Fauxmagerie, within days of their opening, asking the startup to stop using the word "cheese" to describe dairy-free products it sells.
The store was opened by sisters Rachel and Charlotte Stevens in Brixton earlier this month. The company sells cheese alternatives made from plant-based sources like cashew nuts.
Dairy UK said that calling plant-based alternatives "cheese" was misleading to customers.
“Whilst we recognise there’s a market for both dairy and vegan products, some of the information provided on La Fauxmagerie’s website does not appear to be in line with rules which are in force across the EU protecting dairy terms.
"Plant-based products are simply not dairy in any sense – from a taste or nutrition perspective,” the organisation said.
The sisters hit back in a statement posted on Instagram, saying their products were clearly marked as dairy-free.
“We believe by stating we are plant-based and 100 per cent vegan in our tag line and all of our media, we are not misleading our customers in any way. Nor are we making any comments on the nutritional value of dairy cheese.”
It’s not the first time that vegan-alternatives have stirred controversy. Gregg's released its vegan sausage roll last year, leading Piers Morgan to call the company “PC-ravaged clowns”.
Last year France banned companies for using meat-related words to describe vegan dishes like “vegan shawarma kebab.”
The European Court of Justice has ruled against companies using words like butter and cheese in relation to their non-dairy products after a German company described their tofu-based spread as “butter.” But the ruling left out some products like coconut milk and peanut butter.