ACLU Sues to Stop Arkansas Ban on Words Like 'Meat' and 'Milk' to Describe Vegan Products

Veggie burger

In case you were unaware that veggie burgers don't come from cows, the state of Arkansas wants to help. Proving that even conservatives are guilty of government overreach, Arkansas passed a bill this past spring forbidding companies from labeling vegan food with words like "meat," "milk," and "burger." On Wednesday, the ACLU announced on Twitter that they have filed a lawsuit to challenge Arkansas' regulation.

Saddled with the clunky and laughable title "An Act to Require Truth in Labeling of Agricultural Products that are Edible by Humans; and for Other Purposes," AR HB1407 wants to protect consumers who are easily confused. The bill explains, "'Beef' means the flesh of domesticated bovine, such as steer or cow, that is edible by humans." After similar explanations about what "chicken," "pork," "fish," and a whole host of other commonly known words mean, the bill continues by banning the labeling of "agriculture product as meat or a meat product."

I don't often agree with the ACLU, but when I do, it's bound to be related to some next-level stupidity. As the headline for their press release about the lawsuit succinctly says, "Arkansas Wants to Make Sure that You Know Almonds Don't Lactate." The article goes on to explain:

The state of Arkansas thinks you’re confused about whether a veggie burger comes from a cow. In fact, it thinks you’re so confused that it passed a law making it illegal for companies to use words like “meat,” “roast,” and “sausage” to describe products that are not made from animals. Under the law, it doesn’t matter if those words are modified by “vegan,” “veggie,” or “plant-based.”

Helping to make their point, the ACLU quotes the clearly aggravated Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) who said, "No one buys almond milk under the false illusions that it came from a cow. They buy almond milk because it didn’t come from a cow."

Sen. Mike Lee is correct — as a whole, consumers aren't as stupid as the Arkansas State Legislature believes. Likewise, the ACLU is correct to point out that "Not only is Arkansas’ latest law absurd and unnecessary, it’s also unconstitutional. It violates the First Amendment by censoring truthful speech in order to protect the economic interests of the meat industry."

To be blunt, if someone is stupid enough to believe that a veggie burger comes from a cow, they deserve the disappointment they'll receive upon eating it. Arkansas should stop wasting taxpayers' money with this type of stupidity. And conservatives in the state should demand that their elected officials stop piling unnecessary regulations on top of regulations.