Nearly one in four consumers surveyed believe vegetarian products should not be allowed to have meat-related names, like sausage or burger, according to a study presented by Ingredient Communications, UK, and commissioned by Surveygoo, UK.

The study surveyed nearly 1,000 consumers (499 in the UK and 484 in the United States) to explore attitudes to the way meat-free products are named. The sample included vegetarians, vegans, pescatarians and meat-eaters.

Across all groups, almost 25% of respondents said manufacturers of vegetarian products should not be permitted to use meat-related names like sausage, burger or steak. Vegetarians were the least likely to disapprove of meat-related names, with only 18% supporting the ban. By contrast, 33% of vegans and 26% of meat-eaters said vegetarian products should not be allowed to have meat-related names.

Among survey respondents who approved of vegetarian products with meat-related names the most common reason was that “it describes the nature and format of the product accurately,” a view held by 58% of all respondents and 65% of vegetarians. However, 60% of those who disapproved believed that meat-related names are misleading.

“One of the most interesting findings from this research is the extent of the difference between vegetarians and vegans,” says Neil Cary, managing director of Surveygoo. “Vegetarians seem to prefer products that mimic traditional meat formats, but this is a turn-off for many vegans. The obvious lesson for manufacturers and marketers of plant-based products is that vegetarians and vegans are distinct consumer categories with vastly different purchasing preferences.”

The survey also revealed a significant difference between vegetarians and vegans when it came to purchasing decisions. Nearly half of the vegetarians surveyed (49%) said they were more likely to buy a meat-free product if it was labelled with a word such as sausage, burger or steak. However, only 19% of vegans said the same, with 57% saying they were less likely to buy a product if it carried a meat-related name.

The respondents were also asked to pick their preferred terms for vegetarian products if meat-related names were banned. The top name for sausages was “rolls,” the top name for burgers was “patties” and the most popular name for vegetarian steaks was “portions.”