New EU initiative aims to include vegetarian & vegan info on all food packaging

New EU initiative aims to include vegetarian & vegan info on all food packaging

“Is there meat in that?”

For tourists who don’t understand Czech, identifying food products in a Prague market that are vegetarian – and especially vegan – can be difficult.

It’s not just a local issue: vegetarian Czech shoppers at a German supermarket, for instance, are likely to be met with the same quandary.

While some food products are clearly marked with a familiar green V logo to indicate their vegetarian-friendliness, it’s not a mandatory requirement, and certainly not the case with all products. And the distinction between vegan and vegetarian can be especially difficult to discern without language skills.

And even if you do speak the language of the food label, it can sometimes be a difficult task to browse long lists of obscure ingredients to determine which products meet your dietary requirements.

But a new Europe-wide initiative wants to change that.

On Monday, a new European Citizens’ Initiative that aims to clearly label the vegan and vegetarian quality of all food products was officially registered with the European Commission.

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Under the proposal, all food products sold in the EU would be required to bear unified symbols that indicate whether the item is non-vegetarian, vegetarian, or vegan.

“Vegetarians and vegans struggle across the EU to identify suitable food,” the Initiative states.

“We must study the ingredients list of a food product to determine if it is fit for purchase with a hyper-awareness of ambiguous ingredients that could either be plant or animal based.”

After being officially registered by the EC, the proposal will now be given a year to collect at least one million signatures from at least seven different countries within the EU. It’s expected to easily meet that target.

“I think that a million signatures can be obtained quite easily, because the number of people who want to eat healthy is growing fast,” Tomáš Prouza, President of the Czech Union of Trade and Tourism, told Deník.

While the proposal would require a design change to all food products sold throughout the EU, Prouza didn’t anticipate it would become a financial burden on the companies required to make the update.

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If you’d like to support the initiative and add your signature, you can do so here in the coming weeks.

Lucas Němec

Prague-based author with two decades experience living in and writing about the Czech Republic for local and international sites and publications. Nakládaný hermelín enthusiast and frequent Club-Mate drinker.

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