Challenging Restrictions on Plant-Based Dairy Marketing
Miyoko's Kitchen v. California Dep't of Food and Agriculture
The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit against the California Department of Food and Agriculture on behalf of vegan food producer Miyoko's Creamery, after the agency instructed the company to stop using terms like "dairy" and "butter" on its product
Lawsuit filed on February 6, 2020
California files response
On Feb. 6, 2020, the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit against the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) on behalf of plant-based food producer Miyoko’s Creamery (Miyoko’s), after the agency sent an enforcement letter instructing the company to stop using terms like “dairy” and “butter” on its products — even with qualifiers like “vegan” and “made with plants.”
The agency also instructed that Miyoko’s not represent its vegan butter products as “cruelty-free,” despite plant-based products avoiding the cruelty associated with animal agriculture. The agency also told Miyoko’s to remove a photograph from its website of a woman hugging a cow
The lawsuit argues that the CDFA has violated the First Amendment by unconstitutionally restricting truthful commercial speech.
Who is being sued, why, and under what law? The California Department of Food and Agriculture for violating the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Why this case is important: There is no legitimate, constitutional reason for the CDFA to censor Miyoko’s. The agency’s attempts to restrict terminology are unconstitutional and harm plant-based alternatives to animal products.
The dairy industry claims that terms like “butter” and “cheese” on plant-based products confuses consumers, yet there is no evidence to support such claims. Moreover, animal agriculture causes immense animal suffering, pollutes the environment, and threatens human health and welfare.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund has been at the forefront of demanding fair oversight of plant-based foods, in the face of aggressive lobbying by factory farming interests — which have attempted to strongarm state and federal lawmakers, and regulatory agencies, into prohibiting plant-based products from using commonly understood terms in their marketing and packaging.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund is working to ensure these unconstitutional laws are struck down and that plant- and cultivated cell-based products — animal meat produced from animals’ cells, without having to raise and kill living, feeling beings — have equal footing in the marketplace. The organization currently represents the interests of both plant- and cultivated-meat producers in lawsuits in Missouri and Arkansas that challenge unconstitutional product labeling restrictions.