The increasing availability of plant-based alternatives to products that were traditionally derived from animals has been a blessing for vegans, vegetarians, and others who—for reasons biological or ideological—simply don’t enjoy animal-based fare. If milk makes you gassy, you can buy a white, milk-like substance made from almonds, cashews, or coconuts. If you love the texture of beef but not the idea of eating something that once had a face, you can get patties with a meaty texture that bleed beet juice.
Although most of these products borrow terminology from the animal realm, American consumers don’t seem particularly confused about what makes them different. The ingredients in almond, soy, and coconut “milks,” for instance, are prominently featured on the packaging. Nearly all of these products are explicitly marketed as “nondairy,” and the lighting in most grocery stores is adequate for distinguishing between the item types, writes Mike Riggs in the latest issue of Reason.