OUT WITH ‘veggie burgers’ and in with ‘veggie discs’ – the EU has made a commitment to crack down on the use of meat terms on vegetarian and vegan food labels.

The European parliament’s agriculture committee this week approved a ban on vegetable-based products using names usually associated with meat, meaning that vegan 'sausages', tofu 'steaks' and soya 'escalopes' could all be consigned to the bin.

Under a revised regulation that passed with 80% approval, protected meat designations would include steak, sausage, escalope, burger and hamburger. The measures will be voted on by the full parliament after May’s European elections, before being put to member states and the European Commission.

Although this should be good news for the UK meat industry, the country's departure from the EU could mean it misses out on new food-labelling regulations, which would have been a welcome boost in the face of rising publicity for the anti-meat agenda.

When asked whether the Scottish Government would look to propose a similar ban here, if our departure from the EU goes ahead, a spokesperson said: “We would welcome this.  Food labelling must accurately represent a product and accurately inform consumers.”

French socialist MEP Éric Andrieu, who is responsible for overseeing the food labelling legislation, suggested that it was an opportunity for veggie food producers to get creative and make their own mark on the food market.

“We felt that steak should be kept for real steak with meat and come up with a new moniker for all these new products," said Mr Andrieu. "There is a lot to be done in this front, a lot of creativity will be needed. People need to know what they are eating – so if they want to eat less meat, they know what is on their plate.”

Veggie 'discs', quorn 'tubes', soya 'slices' and seitan 'slabs' are all ideas which have been suggested as potential new names for plant-based produce.

Green MEP for South West of England and Gibraltar, Molly Cato, said she hoped that this potential ban would stop food producers emulating the meat-eating world.

“Rather than say ‘I can’t eat bacon so I am going to make something that tastes like bacon out of some weird micro food’, you can have a very nice cuisine that starts with vegetables and not a meat substitute. I think this could unlock a lot of creativity,” she suggested.

The EU is following the lead of France, where MPs last year passed an amendment to an agriculture bill prohibiting any product that is largely based on non-animal ingredients from being labelled like a traditional animal product.

Although it has been predicted that any new regulation could take years until it comes into force, the proposed ban has already received firm opposition from non-governmental organisations such as Greenpeace and Birdlife, which have claimed that it would stunt progress being made towards sustainable food production.