It is high time that world governments include a meat tax as a sin tax. Meat eating is harmful to health and environment, and must be taxed just like tobacco and alcohol. It’s an excellent way for governments raise revenue to help fight climate change and environmental damage.
The first step to tax meat consumption is removing agricultural subsidies. This is not a direct sin tax as such, but without subsidies high cost meat producers will go bust and leave the sector. This will free up land for more productive purposes such as growing high value protein crops.
The Meat Sin Tax
A meat sin tax must cover all meats and meat products in any form or shape. It should be levied on beef, mutton, pork, chicken and all other meats. Fish and other poultry must also be included in the sin tax net. Higher sin tax rates must apply on exotic meats from animals such as whale and dolphin. The Japanese and Norwegians might not like this tax. Meat products such as colorings and flavorings must also be taxed. The taxing of leather will encourage people to use sustainable alternatives such as hemp or other materials made from renewable and environmentally friendly sources. A meat tax could be on a sliding scale, starting low for the first year, and then ramped up year after year.
Meat production is costly. Its takes more water and land to produce meat than to produce crops. The livestock and meat production sector is one the chief contributors to harmful climate change and environment destruction. Apart from the greenhouse gases from cattle and other ruminants, meat transport and meat processing also adds to carbon emissions. Runoff from farms and meat processing plants pollute water ways, killing fish and insect species. The water is often not unsuitable for human consumption.
Livestock farming also causes the spread of antibiotic resistant diseases. Growth hormones from the entire meat value chain also find their way into our water, causing high rates of cancers and lower fertility rates in men. Eating meat is bad for your health. If doctors are not doing enough to educate people about meat eating, science and medical publications certainly are. Meat eating can cause diseases including cardio-vascular disease, colon cancer, stomach cancer, strokes, diabetes, obesity and hyper tension. Eating meat increases the cost of medical care, while decreasing its availability to low income communities.
Medical Insurance Premiums for Meat Eaters
If medical aid and funding companies can penalize smokers and other high risk groups with higher premiums, they should have no problems penalizing meat eating members. Governments can use the carrot and stick approach to force medical aid and scheme providers to adopt meat punitive premium structure.
Insurance firms must offer higher premiums to meat consumers. There could be difference whether the clients eat red meat, fish or chicken. Members eating red meat pay the highest rate, followed by lower rates for poultry and fish eaters. Incentive could be offered for clients to stop eating meat. People who eat a largely meat based diet should be penalized at the maximum rate as set in these new government regulations. Premiums can also be based on income levels – the higher income, the higher the premium increases. A forty percent increase on premiums on high income earners would be a fair figure, considering the impact on their health and the environment.
Taxing the Live Stock Farming and the Meat Processing Industry
Taxes must be levied on the entire meat value chain, from the farm to the supermarket shelves. Massive corporates easily flout environmental regulations through bribery and belligerence. Limiting the damage caused by agri-businesses is difficult but taxing these industries is a good way to raise funds to rehabilitate the environment.
Governments throughout the world subsidize their farming sector to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars annually. Subsidies should be used to move farmers out of the animal farming sector and into planting high value crops in an environmentally sustainable way. When meat eating hurts people in the pocket, they will switch to a non-meat based diet. Again, this may not be enough.
An education tax is the final solution to the problem of meat consumption. Teachers who do not promote a meat free diet should pay a surcharge on their take home pay and city councils should pay a collective tax for schools in their districts that do not advocate a green agenda.Private schools and tertiary institutes must be forced to adopt pro-environment and pro-green policies in their curriculum. Schools, universities, and technician colleges that are ahead of the curve should receive financial incentives and be lauded for their excellent efforts.
A meat sin tax is a great way to reduce meat consumption. It will force people to eat healthily, and at the same time reduce our carbon foot print. In the short term, it will be a politically unpopular, but in long run, it will be good for humanity and for all life on the planet.