The Point: Meat, Milk, and Meanings

Oh, just call it what it is…

A new Missouri law has made it illegal to call meat-alternative products “meat.” As the Washington Post reports, the word can only apply to products from a “livestock or poultry carcass.”

This sort of law is nothing new. Past bills have attempted to distinguish milk from animals from things like almond or soy “milk.” After all, as the head of the FDA once remarked, “an almond doesn’t lactate.”

I’m a guy who loves steak, so I appreciate this new legislation. I hope I’d be able to distinguish between sirloin and soybean, but words on the package would still help. And words should always be true. In other words, words should describe reality.

And since we’re being truthful about “milk” and “meat,” what if we’re truthful about “male” and “female”?  Words matter there, too. In the grocery store, calling something x when it’s really y is called fraud. But we’re increasingly told to do that when it comes to chromosomes. All we’re really doing is detaching ourselves from reality.

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