Whatever happened to that shining city upon a hill, whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere? In a land such as the one Reagan envisioned, you’d think that people would have enough common sense to know the difference between actual meat and whatever inedible cardboard products the vegans are always trying to sneak into our diets to save the planet. Not so, I’m afraid. At least not in Nebraska. Farmers there are pushing for new legislation, similar to what’s already been passed in Missouri, preventing companies from labeling products with no relation to any tasty animal as “meat.” (Associated Press)

More than four months after Missouri became the first U.S. state to regulate the term “meat” on product labels, Nebraska’s powerful farm groups are pushing for similar protection from veggie burgers, tofu dogs and other items that look and taste like real meat.

Nebraska lawmakers will consider a bill this year to prevent companies that package and sell food from advertising plant-based, insect-based and lab-grown products as meat. Similar measures are pending in Tennessee, Virginia and Wyoming.

The issue strikes a particularly strong cord in Nebraska, one of the nation’s top states for livestock production, where cars roll down the interstate with “Beef State” license plates and the governor each year proclaims May as “Beef Month.”

The legislation in Missouri has already drawn court challenges and Nebraska’s new bill will undoubtedly face the same hurdles if it passes. Groups opposing the measure include the Good Food Institute, the ACLU of Missouri (of course), and the Animal Legal Defense Fund. They are basing their challenges on both free speech concerns and the alleged stifling of competition.

That sounds rather crazy to me, but then a lot of what gets handed down from the courts these days is nuts. This shouldn’t be any sort of free speech question because your right to free speech does not include the ability to engage in false advertising. Plant-based products are not meat and we shouldn’t need the courts or the state government to provide definitions over something so basic. As far as competition goes, nobody is saying you can’t sell veggie burgers. You just can’t call them meat any more than you can sell motor oil and call it salad dressing.

While we’re on the subject, can we please have stores stop selling products labeled as “soy milk?” There is no such thing as soy milk because soybeans don’t lactate. If the liquid didn’t come from an animal in a fashion designed to feed their young it’s not milk. On an interesting side-note, it turns out that some cockroaches actually do produce milk and it’s some of the most nutritious liquid in the animal kingdom. But you need really tiny hands to be able to milk them.