Meat production is a significant contributor to climate change. The use of water, land and animals in its production takes a toll on the planet. Discussions about the need to reduce meat consumption, and therefore production, increase annually as the realized environmental degradation becomes clear. A new solution is to tax meat. 

Taxing meat like sugar and tobacco is a possibility listed in new research from Fitch Solutions. Consumption dropped in both sugar and tobacco after each item was taxed, according to the report. If an imposed tax would reduce purchase, taxing meat could aid climate change. Taxes move the burden to the consumer, so a purchase of a pound of meat would cost more when a person went to purchase it in the grocery store or butcher shop.

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Meat consumption is still rising globally, as stated in the report, alongside increased research about ill health and environmental effects. Driven by rising incomes and population growth, the number of people consuming meat isn’t slowing down. While meat has become a staple in millions of diets, environmental and medical groups are encouraging reduced meat consumption. A tax would be one way to do that. 

Likening it to the sugar tax, the Fitch Solutions report states, “Governments could leverage on this demand for more sustainability and tax the consumer instead of implementing stricter environmental production regulations. Some may consider implementing a tax on meat, following on the model of the ongoing rise in ‘sugar taxes’.” The question of who should reduce, production or the consumer, is part of the discussion. 

Production regulations are fought by big business, who have significant political pull and money to spend to fight regulatory changes. Current consumer dependent initiatives include Meatless Monday and meat alternatives. With the tax, consumers who aren’t reducing meat for environmental or health reasons may reduce for monetary ones.

Read more coverage on meat alternatives and get viral vegan recipes.

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