3 Reasons Why A Meat Tax Is A Good Idea

Like cigarettes, alcohol and gasoline, meat should be federally taxed to help pay for its health and environmental costs.


Published:

© Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

A new analysis from the investor network Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return (FAIRR) Initiative argues that meat is going down the same road as tobacco, carbon emissions and sugar toward a “sin tax”—a levy intended to reduce consumption of products that are harmful. Such an excise tax on meat would help cover the health and environmental costs that result from using animals for food.

Cigarettes, alcohol and gasoline are already federally taxed to help pay for their hidden health or environmental costs. In 2014, Berkeley, California, passed a soda tax, and it has been working. Researchers of the tax found that just one year after the tax started, sales of sugar-sweetened drinks fell by nearly 10 percent, while sales of water increased by about 16 percent.

But while meat consumption is a known health hazard, and meat production is a leading source of environmental degradation, the meat industry has gotten off easy.

Why Congress Should Support A Sin Tax On Meat

A 10-cent tax on every pound of chickenturkeypigcowfish and other animal flesh sold in grocery stores and restaurants could help reduce Americans' skyrocketing annual healthcare costs by encouraging people to eat less meat.

According to the American Dietetic Association, vegetarians are less prone to heart disease, diabetes and cancer than meat-eaters are and also less likely to be obese

The production of meat is also a leading cause of climate change, a looming environmental disaster that threatens the U.S. with billions of dollars in damages from rising sea levels, worsening storms and increased droughts.

By discouraging meat consumption, this tax could help prevent future climate change and related natural disasters. Revenue from the tax could be used to fund educational programs about the many benefits of reducing meat consumption.

Here are three reasons why a meat tax is a good idea.

1. A meat tax is good for public health.

The U.S. spends more on health care than any other nation and is one of the largest consumers of meat. Animal products are the only dietary sources of cholesterol and are by far the largest sources of saturated fat in American diets.

Numerous studies have linked the consumption of animal flesh to cancer. A major Harvard study found that people who frequently eat chicken cooked without the skin (supposedly the healthier way to prepare chicken) were 52 percent more likely to develop bladder cancer than people who don’t eat chicken.

An analysis recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that, based on 32 observational studies, meat-eaters have significantly higher blood pressure than people who avoid meat.

It doesn’t make sense that the millions of meat-free Americans have to help pick up the tab (through taxes and health insurance premiums) when meat-eaters get sick. A tax on meat would make the tax system more equitable—similar “sin” taxes already exist for alcohol and cigarettes.

2. A meat tax is good for the environment.

Scientists and world leaders increasingly agree that climate change is the biggest challenge humanity faces, and the meat industry is one of the world’s leading causes of it. As the Guardian reports,

“Food production causes a quarter of all the greenhouse gas emissions that are driving global warming, largely from the raising of cattle and other livestock.”

According to an Oxford University study, surcharges of 40 percent on beef and 20 percent on milk would account for the damage their production causes people via climate change.

“It is clear that if we don’t do something about the emissions from our food system, we have no chance of limiting climate change below 2C, said lead author Marco Springmann of the Oxford Martin Program on the Future of Food. "But if you’d have to pay 40 percent more for your steak, you might choose to have it once a week instead of twice.”

The researchers concluded that increasing the price of beef by 40 percent would lead to a 13 percent drop in consumption.

Consider the following:

  • A study by the University of Chicago found that going vegan is 50 percent more effective in fighting climate change than switching from a standard car to a hybrid.
  • Animal agriculture is a leading source of carbon-dioxide, nitrous-oxide and methane emissions, the top three greenhouse gases.
  • The United Nations has determined that raising animals for food causes enormous local and global environmental problems and that it should be a main focus in every discussion of land degradation, climate change, water and air pollution, water shortages, and the loss of biodiversity. The U.N. stressed that a global shift toward a vegan diet is necessary to combat the worst effects of climate change.

Unless people dramatically reduce their consumption of animal products, we won’t be able to make a meaningful dent in the climate crisis. A tax on meat could quickly and dramatically decrease meat consumption and help save the planet.

3. A meat tax is good for animals.

On today’s massive factory farms, animals are abused in horrible ways. Cows, pigs, chickens, and turkeys are routinely mutilated without any painkillers and confined to filthy cages, sheds, or feedlots for their entire lives.

Fish are crowded into massive, filthy tanks in which parasites run rampant.

In the poorly regulated slaughterhouses of the U.S., billions of animals routinely have their throats cut while they’re still conscious, and millions are scalded to death in tanks of hot water every year.

Animals are paying a terrible price to supply society with meat.

© Animal rights activist Karolin

What Will This Proposal Cost The Average American?

A typical meat-eating family of four might pay only about $5 per month, and a chunk of that would likely be absorbed by the largest meat-producing companies. If the family members replaced some meat with healthy vegan foods, they would likely save hundreds or thousands of dollars in medical expenses over time as their health improved.

Of course, a vegetarian or vegan family would not have to pay the tax at all.

Will Farmers And Ranchers Lose Their Jobs?

Corporate animal factories have largely replaced family farms, and machines have replaced many employees at these facilities. The jobs that remain are extremely dangerous, and the workers who fill them (usually immigrants) are often exploited and treated poorly.

Human Rights Watch conducted a major study of working conditions in the industry and concluded:

“Meatpacking is the most dangerous factory job in America....Nearly every worker interviewed for this report bore physical signs of a serious injury suffered from working in a meat or poultry plant....Every country has its horrors, and this industry is one of the horrors in the United States.”

As Americans increasingly switch to plant-based diets, more jobs, with safer working conditions, will be created to produce vegan foods. Several prominent business leaders and entrepreneurs, like Bill Gates, Sir Richard Branson and Sergey Brin, have invested in plant-based food companies and clean meat food technology.

Is This Proposal Politically Feasible?

Yes. Although the tobacco and alcohol lobbies have enormous political influence, taxes on cigarettes and alcohol have increased. Now, it is time to protect consumers and the environment from the negative impact of meat production and consumption.

The Oxford researchers said that these taxes on meat and dairy would reduce consumption, which would reduce greenhouse emissions, health issues and animal suffering arising from consumption of these foods. 

A tax on meat is a good idea whose time has come.

Ben Williamson is the Media Director for PETA

This article was republished from Alternet.

See also:
Want To Help Animals? Don’t Forget The Chickens
Waste: The Defining Metaphor Of Our Herding Culture

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

September 23, 2019

During the predawn hours the Sun slips into Libra and Autumn begins. The Fall Equinox is a short-lived time of year when the hours of daylight and darkness are balanced. If you’ve been putting off preparations for the coming winter, set to it. The waning…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

September 2019

It’s time for a workshop!  One plus one always equals two. In a similar fashion EFT plus Law of Attraction always equals effective and positive change. Teaching Emotional Freedom...

Cost: $40

Where:
21 Wiles Farm Road
Northboro, MA
View map »


Sponsor: Medicine My Way
Telephone: 508-523-7132
Website »

More information

In this 90 minute workshop you will find clarity in what brings you joy. You will create your personal vision statement that will help guide you to living a more satisfied, balanced life. This...

Cost: $25 early-bird till 9/20 ($30 after)

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman Street, Suite 108B
Westborough shopping center
Westborough, MA  01581
View map »


Sponsor: www.SOHUM.org
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
Website »

More information

Witness the healing power of mediumship! Join New England's own trusted spirit medium Raylene Sousa and top UK medium Dominic Boag from Scotland for an afternoon of spirit messages. If...

Cost: $40

Where:
The Little Meetinghouse
723 Roosevelt Trail
Windham, ME  04062
View map »


Sponsor: Raylene Sousa Medium LLC
Telephone: 207-956-0220
Contact Name: Raylene Sousa
Website »

More information

Come shine with us! Join us in harmony and in our goal to bring the light of Spiritualism forward to all those who are searching.

Where:
VFW Post 2597
775 Boston Rd, Rt 3A
Billerica, MA
View map »


Sponsor: The Spiritualist Fellowship Church Of New England
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

2nd and 4th Monday of every month This psychic message circle is for anyone wishing to raise their connection using their psychic centers known as the “clairs.” Learn how to use...

Cost: $20

Where:
Messages From Heaven Healing and Learning Center
646 Central Street
Suite 3
Leominster, MA
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Members of the Reflexology Association of NH will be offering “mini” hand or foot reflexology sessions at the Salt Cave within Bien Soigne in honor of World Reflexology Week.

Cost: Donations suggested $15 - $20

Where:
Bien Soigne Salt Cave
350 North Broadway
Salem, NH  03079
View map »


Sponsor: Reflexology Association of NH
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

September 25–October 29, 2019 Expert Tai Chi instructor and Qigong Master Instructor Terry Dunn will be giving a total of four five-day intensive workshops in October 2019 at Eastover...

Where:
Eastover Estate & Retreat
430 East Street
Lenox, MA  01240
View map »


Telephone: 866-264-5139
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

September 26–29 This training at the Center for Mindfulness and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) uses mindfulness meditation and cognitive therapy to break the cycle of...

Cost: $1,390

Where:
Center for Mindfulness and Compassion
1035 Cambridge St, Suite 21A
Cambridge, MA  02141
View map »


Sponsor: Center for Mindfulness and Compassion
Telephone: 617-591-6132
Contact Name: Center for Mindfulness and Compassion
Website »

More information

Come detox, relax and renew yourself for the fall in our sanctuary! We have an intimate gathering of great readers and healers providing services at sampler rates to enjoy their services while...

Cost: $60: 3 Pack Service Special; $25: Single Service

Where:
Healing Power Of Flowers—Heaven and Earth
68 Stiles Rd
Salem, NH  03079
View map »


Sponsor: The Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
Telephone: 603-275-7688
Contact Name: Stacey Smith
Website »

More information

Mirabai Starr was an adjunct professor of Philosophy and World Religions at the University of New Mexico-Taos for 20 years. Her emphasis has always been on making connections between the perennial...

Cost: $20

Where:
First Parish in Lexington
7 Harrington Road
Lexington, MA  02420
View map »


Sponsor: Lexington Community Education
Telephone: 781-862-8043
Contact Name: Craig Hall
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Maryellen Labelle, David Sholemson and Steve Cunningham are excited to announce Qigong for Inner Peace teacher training fall term 2019. This 50 hour certification training is appropriate for a wide...

Cost: $1100 / $800 early registration

Where:
Yoga Depot
17 Depot Square
Lexington, MA  02420
View map »


Sponsor: Qigong for Inner Peace
Telephone: 617-721-7215
Contact Name: Maryellen Labelle / David Sholemson
Website »

More information

Join life coach Cheryl Richardson and her husband, Michael Gerrish, a psychotherapist and gifted intuitive, for a special evening designed to help you upgrade your life! During this event,...

Cost: $35

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
386 Merrimack Street
Suite 1A
Methuen, MA  01844
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

This Dating Program is the follow-up to Kerri Morrison's workshop, Deliberate Dating: 5 Keys to Successful Online Romance; held Friday, August 16th, 2019 from 6:30-7:30pm. View that event...

Cost: $199

Where:
Awaken Holistic Counseling Services
2 Liberty St., Unit 2L
Newburyport, MA  01950
View map »


Sponsor: Awaken Holistic Counseling Services, LLC
Telephone: 978-255-7893
Contact Name: Kerri Morrison
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Learn Reiki—revitalizing self-care and healing in the palm of your hands. Facilitated by Lou Orsan, Reiki Shihan (master teacher.) This one-day class covers the...

Cost: $150

Where:
Northeast Reiki Center
61 Nicholas Road
Framingham, MA  01701
View map »


Sponsor: Northeast Reiki Center
Telephone: 508-808-5696
Contact Name: Lou Orsan
Website »

More information

With Laura Haley, IET Master Instructor Trainer  This class provides you with everything you need to conduct a powerful Integrated Energy Therapy session on yourself or others (either in...

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
Methuen, MA


Telephone: (978) 474-8010
Website »

More information

Learn the benefits of yoga for families as well as how to develop character in children to get them more focused, respectful, and confident before returning back to school this fall! This class...

Cost: $45 early bird till 9/25 (includes child and a parent), $50 after

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman Street, Suite 108B
Westborough shopping center
Westborough, MA  01581
View map »


Sponsor: www.SOHUM.org
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
Website »

More information

September 28–29 Saturday 10 am Registration; 10 am–5 pm  Sunday 10 am–5 pm This practitioner training takes place over 2 days and offers students the opportunity to...

Cost: Course Fee: $450; Recalibration Appointment: $333

Where:
The Hampton Inn Coventry Warwick
850 Centre Of New England Boulevard
Coventry, RI
View map »


Telephone: 617-366-6042
Website »

More information

September 28–29 Learn hands-on techniques for the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine, as well as the sacrum, psoas and ilium. Leave with tools you can use right away. Coming in...

Where:
Downeast School of Massage
Waldoboro, ME


Telephone: (617) 678-8920
Website »

More information

Learn to overcome spinal tensions through therapeutic postures, designed to decompress your spine and relieve pain. Taught by a certified yoga therapist, classes bring you through poses...

Cost: 5/$50

Where:
Bliss Through Yoga
484 Bedford St
East Bridgewater, MA  02333
View map »


Telephone: 508-331-3564
Contact Name: Janice O'Brien
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags