Although many UK supermarkets and restaurants are reasonably good at labelling vegetarian food as vegetarian, the situation still leaves a lot to be desired. I have started a petition to introduce a mandatory labelling scheme for the following reasons:
- A product labelled "vegetarian" is (usually) vegetarian, but a product which is not labelled "vegetarian" may or may not be vegetarian, so people often have to resort to reading the ingredients.
- Explicitly labelling non-vegetarian food as "non-vegetarian" would ensure that vegetarians don’t accidentally buy or consume products which are not suitable for them because of hidden ingredients (such as calf rennet in parmesan).
- Products labelled "vegetarian" are occasionlly labelled incorrectly, due to a misunderstanding of what is and is not veggie. This is especially true of restaurant menus.
- For vegans, the situation is much worse. When shopping for vegan products, you have to read the ingredients on almost everything.
- When it comes to alcohol, there’s very often no way of knowing if something is vegetarian or not. A beer, for example, may or may not contain isinglass, but there’s no way of knowing without contacting the brewery.
- Similary, medicines are often not labelled adequately.
The scheme I am proposing would resolve these issues by providing a clear definition of what is vegan and what is vegetarian, and by ensuring that all food, drink and medicine is labelled as follows:
- Vegan products would always be labelled "vegan".
- Products which are vegetarian but not vegan would be labelled "vegetarian".
- Anything else would be labelled "non-vegetarian".
The petition has been published on epetitions.direct.gov.uk and can be signed by UK residents and British citizens.