Governments around the world are considering a ‘sin tax’ on red meat, according to a report by Fitch Solutions.
These taxes are usually levied on products like tobacco or sugary drinks – those that are considered to be unhealthy.
Now as a result of red meat’s impact on the environment, deforestation, and growing awareness of animal cruelty, it could be the next target for higher taxation, according to the report.
In addition, red meat consumption is linked to a plethora of health conditions, including an increased risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
Taxing red and processed meat could save thousands lives a year and hundreds of millions in healthcare costs, according to a study by University of Oxford.
Red meat and public funds
“The results are dramatic for processed meat,” study leader Marco Springmann said when the research was published at the end of last year. “Bacon is really one of the unhealthiest food products that is out there.
“Nobody wants governments to tell people what they can and can’t eat. It is totally fine if you want to have [red meat], but this personal consumption decision really puts a strain on public funds. It is not about taking something away from people, it is about being fair.”
Fitch’s report said: “A meat tax could therefore emerge as a policy sibling to the sugar tax, supported on the basis that meat does play a role in a balanced diet but over-consumption is a public health issue.”
Accelerate veggie diets
The report believes that this kind of tax would accelerate the trend of people reducing or ditching animal products altogether.
“We are already witnessing consumers cut back on red meat across a number of developed markets globally, supported by the increasing popularity of vegan, vegetarian and ‘flexitarian’ diets. Younger, urbanised consumers are the main drivers of meat-free diets, suggesting that this will be a long-term trend,” it said.
“Introducing a tax on meat would likely accelerate this trend, encouraging consumers to moderate consumption of red meat by switching to poultry or plant-based proteins.”