Pressure is mounting on the federal government to act on its election promise to rein in vegan food manufacturers using words like beef and chicken, and images of livestock, on their fake meat packaging. The battle the red meat industry has on its hands with alternative protein manufacturers hanging their marketing on controversial claims their products are better for the environment and better for animals was discussed at the 2023 Australian Meat Industry Council conference. AMIC chief executive officer Patrick Hutchinson said while the red meat industry recognised livestock industries would not be able to keep up with all the mouths that would need to be fed in the future, it would not stand by as alternative protein makers marketed their product by denigrating real beef and lamb. "The food labelling senate inquiry really pointed out to us that people are going to look to get a free ride on us," he said. "Something simply can not be beef-free beef. "We will pull no punches and apologise never for fighting that." The senate inquiry into food labels, launched in 2021, recommended new laws to prevent meat copycat products like plant-based hamburger patties and sausages from using words like beef and pictures of animals. Agriculture Minister Murray Watt says he is committed to making that happen - something his government went to the election with - but right now his department was still consulting. Specifically, it was looking at voluntary guidelines put forward by the Alternative Proteins Council. Senator Susan McDonald, who chaired the inquiry, said those APC guidelines still advocated for the use of words such as beef, chicken and lamb, and merely advised companies to ensure they use the same font for vegan qualifier words on packaging. "It also states that companies can use animal imagery on food packaging so long as it takes up less than 15 per cent of the space," Ms McDonald told the Senate this week. "These are exactly the problems which were highlighted in the senate inquiry as causing consumer confusion and which need to be dealt with in legislation." Meat &amp; Livestock Australia managing director Jason Strong was asked about alternative proteins at the conference. His response: "Let them self-destruct." "That's what we see happening with a bunch of them now," Mr Strong said. "The worst performing capital raisers in the United States in the past couple of years are plant-based companies. "They've set up their business based on porkies and consumers are smarter than that. "If you fib to consumers about the qualities of your product and the sustainability of it, and you attempt to promote your product by denigrating products like ours, consumers will find you out." Mr Hutchinson said the red meat industry had to be cognisant of behind-the-scenes moves being made by anti-livestock campaigners. "There is a panel member on the review of the Australian Dietary Guidelines who has publicly advocated eating less meat because it's better for the environment," he said. "That shows that people are out there now with a bias against this industry in places of power, pushing for changes that have nothing to do with nutrition but everything to do with ideology. "That's what we are up against." Australia's special representative for agriculture Su McCluskey said the conversation internationally around alternative proteins was becoming more nuanced. It had shifted away from being 'this is a way to solve the world's climate problems' to a more sophisticated understanding of food security, the needs of developing countries and the nutritional value of products, she said. The push now was to align the discussion with global sustainability goals like zero hunger, good health and reduced inequalities, Ms McCluskey reported. It was now clearly understood that not everyone could afford alternative proteins. "They are also saying there is a need to split alternative proteins into three groups: the plant proteins that have been around for centuries, the fake hamburgers and sausage type products and the cell-based products being made in laboratories," she said. "And then think about how each of those performs in terms of nutrition, the environment, food safety and affordability. "We are now hearing less about 'don't eat meat' and more about where do each of these fit."