When it comes to ‘sin taxes’, there will always be proponents on both sides of the fence. For some, it means impugning on the basic rights to choose what we put in our bodies, while advocates understand that too much of something is never a good thing.
So where should we stand on the issue of a meat tax? If we care about our environment, there are several key issues to ponder, and we’ll list them below:
Facts About Meat Consumption and How It Affects Us
There is a lot of talk nowadays about the effects of meat on our health and our environment. And even though there have been steps taken to create awareness on the issue of how consuming meat contributes to climate change and global health problems, most people are still not realizing the extent of the damage.
If preventive measures are not taken to curb the problem, and with the global population steadily rising, it is estimated that meat consumption will increase by 75 percent by 2050. Speaking of meat consumption, I can just quickly attach a very interesting graph that was originally published in one of my other articles:
This graph shows the development in meat consumption from 1961 until 2014, divided by country.
Meat Consumption Contributes To Cancer
In terms of health, this has adverse effects on the population. Besides obesity and heart disease, eating more meat, especially processed meat, can lead to stomach cancer.
If you’re still debating whether that’s actually true, back in 2015, The World Health Organisation labelled processed meats as a Group 1 carcinogen, and other types of meat such as red meat, pork and lamb as a Group 2A carcinogen. This is because of the chemicals meat contains – either naturally or added artificially.
The difference between the two is that a Group 2A carcinogen is a ‘probable cause for cancer,’ while Group 1 means there is strong evidence that the type of food causes cancer. So if you have to eat meat, avoid hot dogs or those ham toppings on your pizza.
A BBC Interview with Professor Bernard Stewart
Youtube is a great source if you want accurate information. A recent report was published in UK. It was quite clear: there is a clear correlation between eating red meat/processed meat and getting cancer.
“The best characterization of this is to say that red meat increases cancer, but It’s a distortion to classify red meat as a carcinogen”, he professor says. You can see the whole interview here:
Food Production Drives Global Warming
Global warming has become a hotly-debated issue, with some questioning whether it’s a hoax or not happening any time soon. But the science and evidence points to the contrary, and as humans are the driving force of the planet, what we do affects the climate greatly.
It is now universally accepted that if the average global temperature gets warmer by 2 degrees Celsius, it will destroy the environment in more ways than one – and the impact would be catastrophic. With the current rate, it’s expected we might reach these temperatures by the year 2030.
What some people might not know is that the livestock industry produces more greenhouse emissions that contribute to global warming than all the transportation people use daily.
Even though steps are being taken, like the 2016 Paris Agreement sponsored by the United Nations to combat climate change, it may not be enough. More measures are needed, especially when controlling the emissions from the livestock industry – and by limiting its consumption.
Why a Meat Tax Should Be Implemented and How It Benefits Us
Farming and deforestation have a big impact on the environment. Discouraging or limiting meat and dairy consumption is one of the ways to reduce the damage we do to our planet. And even though a meat tax is not currently the most pressing concern among policy makers, the issue of it happening in the near future is highly likely.
Here’s why a tax on meat consumption should be implemented soon:
A Meat Tax Would Help Save Lives
Harmful products such as alcohol, tobacco and sugar are already taxed, as governments recognize the detrimental effects of over-consumption of these products.
Research was done to calculate the impact of introducing taxes on meat to wealthier nations, and it was found that a 20 percent tax on unprocessed meat would cut annual deaths resulting from meat consumption by 220,000. We did actually mention this study in a previous article on Sustainability Matters.
Overeating meat is a real problem in developed nations. Raising or imposing a meat tax would drastically reduce consumption, which could lead to an annual savings of $41 billion in healthcare.
Fast food chains are killing us slowly
Where can you get the cheapest meat on the market? Not in Walmart, Tesco or other supermarket chains. The fast food chains are actually the ones who makes meat affordable for “anyone”. There are several problems with that:
– Mcdonald’s, KFC and Burger King are not exactly selling healthy food. They actually wrap the meat inside a high-fat, high-calories, deep-fried burger that is extremely harmful for your health.
– Their meat quality is horrible. In order to keep their low prices, fast food chains tend to buy the absolute worst meat from farmers.
If you want to read more about how the fast food market destroys the environment, please read this article. You will be quite shocked and educated. And trust me: you don’t want to go to McDonald’s ever again….
How a Meat Tax Could Save the Environment
Marco Springmann, a food policy researcher, made a statement that cutting out animal protein from our global food production could save $1.6 trillion on environmental costs by 2050, which is a staggering amount.
Then there’s also the fact that the world’s population is expected to reach 10 billion within the next few decades. If our farming practices are not changed, agricultural damage and greenhouse gases from livestock would do irreversible damage to the planet.
Imposing a higher meat tax would encourage people to reduce their meat intake or stop eating meat altogether, in favor of plant-based diets, which are better for the environment.
Revenue generated from higher tax can go to noble causes such as providing better animal welfare.
Conclusion & Calculations
Introducing a meat tax might not be so far-fetched, according to several sources. Countries like Germany are already discussing the merits of its implementation. We can only hope more countries will adopt this practice if we want to make a huge difference in protecting our planet.
We have to be very clear about the reason for why a tax would work. It is all about preventing people from buying beef, lamb and chicken every day. We are therefore suggesting a progressive tax that would be in correlation with how much that type of meat would pollute. Beef and lamb are almost 5 times worse for the environment compared to chicken. They would therefore be given a 50 % tax, while chicken and other “bird products” would be given a 10 % tax. That would be fair.