Turkey has banned all vegan dairy products that ‘feel like cheese’
A change in legislation in Turkey banned the production and sale of dairy-free cheese. But the Vegan Association Turkey (TVD) is on a mission to overturn the ban with a new trial.
Turkey’s blanket ban follows censorship mandates that already prevent plant-based brands from using the term “cheese” on their packaging.
The first word of the impending legal change came in February 2020. According to TVD, Turkey’s Food Codex regulations were amended to state that “fermented breakfast products (vegan cheese/cheese-like) made from vegetable milk were prohibited.
A full ban has now been implemented, following an update to the Turkish Food Codex in February this year. Domestic producers no longer sell vegan cheese, and manufacturing facilities are now subject to inspections.
Turkey joins the EU, France and South Africa in implementing prohibitive plant-based food legislation. However, Turkey is the only country to ban elements of its production.
What does Turkey’s vegan cheese ban mean?
Plant-based cheese products must not mimic traditional cheese under the new policy. This includes appearance and marketing styles.
However, the wording of the legislation was deemed unclear by TVD.
The association said: “The fact that the necessary clarification has not been provided even on the criteria of similarity, which is the basis of the said ban, creates an open area of pressure and action for the inspectors / sanctions operating in this area. ”
TVD reportedly spoke with the government’s Department of Food and Codex. The discussion also questioned the validity of products sold in packaging styles similar to dairy cheese.
Can TVD overturn the plant-based cheese ban?
The vegan association has now launched a legal action to overturn Turkey’s dairy-free cheese ban. Its argument rests on the notions of protecting consumers’ right of choice and ensuring profitable domestic manufacturing and trade.
“We are determined to use all solutions to the fullest against these arcane bans, which are far from convincing to producers and consumers and were created on unfair grounds,” TVD said in a statement.
The lawsuit directly targets the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. It is taking place alongside another legal battle with the Turkish Council for Higher Education. (On the latter, TVD aims to see plant-based meals offered at all 205 universities nationwide.)
Dismay over the growing trend of plant-based censorship
Food awareness charity ProVeg International has denounced what it calls ‘draconian’ plant-based food laws. He sees them as counterintuitive, given the importance of meatless foods in tackling the climate crisis, and worries about the growing number of new laws.
“Plant-based foods are an essential key to solving the climate crisis and ensuring economic growth. Many meat and dairy companies know this themselves, which is why they are investing in both plant-based and animal-based foods and, in some cases, switching entirely to plant-based foods,” said said Jasmijn de Boo, Vice President of ProVeg.
ProVeg is no stranger to fighting conventional dairy. The organization is currently campaigning for plant-based milk options to be added to school menus across the EU.
His petition, which now has more than 59,000 signatures, addresses the environmental benefits of vegetable milk compared to traditional dairy products. The latter generates three times more emissions than popular animal-free alternatives.
Animal rights concerns also plague the dairy sector. However, the plight of the cows is heard by more people. After discovering the cruel process of milk production, Miriam Margolyes is working with Animal Equality UK to demand an end to dairy farming.