Vegan and vegetarian food masquerading as meat will soon be scrutinised by a Senate committee.

Nationals senator Susan McDonald has launched an inquiry into food labelling laws as the Australian red meat industry seeks to protect the provenance of its products.

The former butcher said it was up to makers of non-meat products to come up with their own distinct terms instead of piggybacking off long-established animal proteins like mince and sausages.

“Just like winemakers wanting exclusive use of some wine names, I feel strongly that our Aussie red meat industry should have sole use of product names that have meant only one thing for centuries,” she said.

John McKillop from the Red Meat Advisory Council said graziers have had a gutful.

“It is a national disgrace that highly processed plant-based protein made from imported ingredients are allowed to be labelled as Australian meat,” he said.

“These highly processed, unnatural plant-based products are increasingly seen as a health risk and are in no way similar to the red meat produced by Australian farmers.”

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McKillop said the brand and reputation of Australian beef, lamb and goat had been built over generations and were now being denigrated by companies deliberately ripping off their marketing to sell inferior products.

The inquiry will investigate the economic effects of non-animal protein marketing on Australia’s red meat industry.

It will also examine the legality of using livestock imagery on vegan products, and the health benefits of non-animal protein manufacturing processes.

“If you prefer tofu over T-bone, then you go for it but forget the ethics of eating animal products, this is about protecting a highly valuable industry and also providing a clear distinction between the real thing and the alternatives so consumers know exactly what they’re getting,” Senator McDonald said.

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