In Germany, more consumers seek out ‘raw’ and minimally processed plant-based food and beverages without chemicals, additives, and fillers. The European country has set to consolidate its status as one of the fastest growing vegan and vegetarian nations after it adopted a legally binding definition of vegan and vegetarian food in June. While veganism has been booming for some years in Europe, growth is mainly active in the German market. In 2015 new product launches carrying a “vegan” claim outpaced those labeled as “vegetarian, reports Mintel.

Germany’s new ruling creates a clear and legally binding definition of ‘vegan’ on food packaging and is also designed to preventing manufacturers from using vegan labeling on foods that include trace animal ingredients.

The European Vegetarian Union, which administers the V label for both vegan and vegetarian products, recently stated that there is no legally binding definition of the terms “vegan” and “vegetarian,” which makes food labeling of veggie products difficult.

“In 2011, the European legislator mandated the European Commission to issue an implementing act that sets out which foods are suitable for vegans and vegetarians (Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011). Although several years have elapsed since then, the Commission have not fulfilled their duty,” the EVU said.

“The EVU calls for politicians and EU institutions to become aware that a definition is needed for people in Europe to make informed choices about what they buy as well as for producers and retailers.”

In April, Germany’s regional consumer protection ministers all agreed on precise definitions for what vegetarian and vegan food is, following pressure from the vegetarian lobby and support from Germany’s food industry.  “What the consumer protection ministers wanted to achieve is to make the German federal government make a stand in Brussels,” said Till Strecker of EVU Public Affairs.

The new definition makes clear that vegan foods are to use absolutely no animal products during any stage of production, taking special consideration to mention processing aids, additives, carriers, and enzymes.