Budget Day: Time to Tax Meat?

Posted by on March 19, 2014 | Permalink

Time to Tax Meat?We’ve heard much talk in recent months about a proposed tax on sugar in order to help combat Britain’s obesity epidemic. But when it comes to unhealthy, disease-causing foods that drive up health-care costs, there’s another obvious culprit – meat and other animal products.

Just in time for the Chancellor’s budget speech, PETA Managing Director Ingrid E Newkirk has come up with a practical, money-saving suggestion that would score highly on both the fiscal and the moral front:

I would like to propose a new set of taxes that will benefit everyone: an excise tax on meat, eggs and dairy products that will help put our economy – and taxpayers suffering from high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other health problems – on the road to recovery.

Consumers already pay duty, or “sin”, taxes on cigarettes, alcohol and gasoline to help offset their health and environmental costs, yet although eating flesh and animal secretions is another unhealthy habit as well as a leading cause of climate change, it has so far escaped being taxed. Unfair! And unhelpful.

The government could save the lives of a lot more people, not to mention countless animals, if it treated the meat and dairy industries the same way that it treats the other “sin” industries. If it were to impose taxes on meat and dairy products in the same way that it has done for cigarettes, a lot more people would realise that tobacco isn’t the only cancer-causing substance that they should keep out of their mouths.

The idea is not completely new: last year, scientists writing in the journal Nature Climate Change suggested cutting methane emissions by driving up the price of meat through a tax or emissions trading scheme. Earlier this month, we saw the release of yet another study showing the link between eating animal products and the harm caused to human health. Middle-aged people who eat protein-heavy diets are four times as likely to die of cancer as those who eat only a little protein, according to the study, which was published in the journal Cell Metabolism. The researchers said that eating as much protein as the average meat- and dairy-eater increases the risk of developing cancer almost as much as smoking 20 cigarettes a day.

This research merely corroborates what many other studies have been saying for years. Eating meat has been linked to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, kidney stones, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, breast cancer and other forms of cancer. However, many people remain ignorant of these facts, much to their own detriment. Some of this ignorance can be put down to mixed messaging, as the government still heavily subsidises the meat and dairy industries.

A meat tax would bring more fairness to the tax system. Of course, in addition to costing the country, meat-eating also costs billions of animals their lives every year. More and more people are choosing not to do it for reasons of compassion, health and environmental awareness. So while we’re still waiting for the government to take practical action, there’s no need for you to wait!

Order our free vegan starter kit to find out just how easy and satisfying giving up animal products can be.