Should vegetarian products contain meat-related words?

Surveygoo explored the attitudes consumers have towards the way in which meat-free products are named. One in four consumers believes that vegetarian products should not be allowed to be labelled with meat-related words such as sausage and burger.

The survey was conducted across the U.K. and the U.S. and included vegetarians, vegans, pescatarians and meat-eaters. In total, 25 percent of respondents agreed that vegetarian products should not be permitted to use meat-related names. These names included sausage, burger and steak.

The survey revealed some stark contrasts between vegans and vegetarians. 49 percent of vegetarians said that they were more likely to buy a meat-free product if it was labelled with a meat-related word, while only 19 percent of vegans said the same. 57 percent of vegans noted that they were less likely to buy a product should it contain a meat-related word. Neil Cary, managing director of Surveygoo, said, “Vegetarians seem to prefer products that mimic traditional meat formats, but this is a turn-off for many vegans. The obvious lesson for manufacturers and marketers of plant-based products is that vegetarians and vegans are distinct categories, with vastly different purchasing preferences.”

One of the main points of conflict was how the different groups represented in the survey understood the meat-related terms. Many respondents, especially in the vegetarian group, said that a word like sausage “accurately described the nature and format of the product accurately.”  However, 60 percent of those who disapproved believed that meat-related names are misleading.

The survey also asked respondents to list their preferred names that could replace the meat-related words. Most popular options were “rolls” instead of sausages, “patties” instead of burgers, and “portions” for vegetarian steaks.