Jefferson City, Mo. – A coalition of organizations asked the U.S. District Court to immediately stop enforcement of a new Missouri law that prohibits “misrepresenting” a product as “meat” unless it comes from a slaughtered animal.
Under current state law, Tofurky and other plant-based producers must either upend their entire marketing and packaging practices or risk criminal prosecution and jail time.
The coalition – including the Animal Legal Defense Fund, The Good Food Institute (GFI) and ACLU of Missouri – filed for a preliminary injunction in U.S. District Court, Western District of Missouri, in Jefferson City late Tuesday.
The move follows a lawsuit in August on behalf of plant-based meat corporation Tofurky and nonprofit organization GFI challenging the Missouri law’s constitutionality. The lawsuit argues that the law violates Tofurky’s and other plant-based meat producers’ First Amendment right to free speech.
“More and more consumers are rejecting the animal agriculture industry – which relies on intense animal cruelty – in favor of plant-based alternatives,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “But instead of responding to the demand for ethically produced products, certain players in the meat industry convinced a state legislature to criminalize truthful speech.”
“The state of Missouri shouldn’t criminalize speech in order to privilege one set of producers over another,” says Good Food Institute Executive Director Bruce Friedrich. “The people of Missouri like free speech and free markets, and this law tramples on both. We’re convinced that it will not stand.”
“The government cannot restrict truthful speech,” said Tony Rothert, legal director, ACLU of Missouri. “Everyone who cares about the Constitution should be concerned about that, regardless of what they put on their plate.”
A copy of the motion is available here.
About the Animal Legal Defense Fund
The Animal Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1979 to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. To accomplish this mission, the Animal Legal Defense Fund files high-impact lawsuits to protect animals from harm; provides free legal assistance and training to prosecutors to assure that animal abusers are punished for their crimes; supports tough animal protection legislation and fights harmful legislation; and provides resources and opportunities to law students and professionals to advance the emerging field of animal law. For more information, please visit aldf.org.
About the ACLU of Missouri
The ACLU of Missouri, an affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, preserves and expands the constitutional rights and civil liberties of all Missourians as guaranteed in the Missouri and U.S. Constitutions, with a focus on the Bill of Rights, the first ten Amendments. To learn more, visit aclu-mo.org.
About The Good Food Institute
The Good Food Institute is a nonprofit that serves as a think tank and accelerator for the fields of plant-based and clean meat. Our team of scientists, entrepreneurs, lawyers, and policy experts is focused on using food innovation and markets to transform our current system from industrial animal agriculture to plant-based and clean meat. Please learn more at gfi.org.
Founded in 1980, Tofurky is a pioneer of the plant-based movement, making lip-smacking plant-based meats that are kind to people, animals, and the environment. The leading independent plant-based protein producer in the nation and abroad, Tofurky’s chef-crafted vegan proteins are made with the highest quality ingredients for everyone from vegans to flexitarians to enjoy their favorite comfort foods. All Tofurky products are 100 percent non-GMO and vegan and use local and organic ingredients whenever possible. As a Certified Benefit Corporation, Tofurky puts purpose before profits and reinvests in a wide variety of environmental initiatives, advocates for animal welfare and invests in its community. For more information, visit www.tofurky.com, ‘like’ us on Facebook, or follow us on Instagram and Twitter.