Animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) are pushing for governments to tax meat (including pork, poultry, beef and even fish) in efforts to promote a healthier diet and reduce the effects of meat production on the environment.
According to PETA spokeswoman Ashley Byrne, meat consumption leads to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, as well as obesity. There’s no doubt about this, considering the World Health Organization (WHO) reclassified processed meat as a Group 1 carcinogen – the same group where tobacco, arsenic and asbestos are placed. The USDA even created a petition to put cancer warning labels on packaged meat.
“A tax would place meat where it belongs, in a category with cigarettes and alcohol because they are bad for human health,” Byrne said. She also added that the entire process of raising animals for meat is “catastrophic for the environment.”
While cattle ranchers say otherwise, meat production is hugely responsible for the production of greenhouse gas emissions, which leads to climate change. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that livestock is responsible for about 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Furthermore, a report published by Farm Animal Investment Risk & Return (FAIRR) discussed that meat taxes are “highly probable” and they believe it is certain that a meat tax will be established in the near future. In addition, more than 25 countries already tax sugar, 180 have imposed a tax on tobacco, 60 jurisdictions put a tax on carbon, and the authors believe that “meat may be the next product on this list.” Many investors are also betting that governments will introduce a meat tax, one way or another.
FAIRR also agrees with Byrne’s health concerns related to meat, and added that meat consumption increases levels of antibiotic resistance.
“Meat consumption is also one sector where both the issues of environment and health overlap,” Rosie Wardle, head of investor engagements with FAIRR, told Futurism.
“We feel that everyone should have the right to a healthy and nutritious diet,” she continued, “and ideally that should help promote a shift towards eating more plant proteins, which is healthier and better for the planet.”
According to the report, meat taxes are already a part of Denmark, Sweden and Germany’s agendas. The first carbon tax was also introduced in the Nordic states in 1990.
Unfortunately, countries like Canada stand in a different position. The average Canadian consumes 87 kg of meat annually. Even though this is a little lower than five years ago, it’s time for Canadians to realize the health concerns related to meat consumption. There are many plant-based alternatives for everyone to enjoy.
The idea of taxing meat in Canada remains controversial. However, many people argue that meat is equal to tobacco. It has also been argued that a meat tax could generate enough funds to support healthcare systems – and FAIRR supports it.
Whether Canada or other countries introduce a sin tax on meat is up for question. It is unfortunate that Canadians stand where they are and we hope that they follow the lead of the European countries. It’s time to start realizing the consequences of meat production if we want to reach sustainability.