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A Maine vegan – who recently customized his license plate to say, “LUVTOFU” – is one of hundreds of motorists now caught in a statewide crackdown on vanity license plates.

“Car owners across the United States can pay an extra fee to customize license plates, sparking creativity and personality but causing headaches for state officials who have to decide what’s acceptable,” NBC Boston’s David Sharp writes.

For several years, Maine permitted drivers to use “just about any combination of letters and numbers on their vehicle plates, including words and phrases that other states would ban,” Sharp adds.

Now, some citizens are fighting back, including Peter Starostecki whose “LUVTOFU” plate was rejected by the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

The “LUVTOFU” plate was “one of 274 in total banned by the state of Maine this year,” The New York Post’s Isabel Keane writes. So far, Maine officials have dismissed all appeals, including one by Starostecki.

The state concluded the license plate could have been seen as a “reference to sex instead of admiration for bean curd,” Sharp explains. However, Starostecki insisted there was no mistaking his intent because the back of his car “had several tofu-related stickers,” Sharp adds.

“It’s my protest against eating meat and animal products,” Starostecki reportedly said after a zoom session with state officials.

Sharp writes that the state’s new rules ban derogatory references to age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion or disability. “Also banned is language that incite violence, or is considered obscene,” Sharp explains.

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