PETA is calling for an excise tax on meat to help cover the health and environmental costs that result from using animals for food.
Cigarettes, alcohol, and gasoline are already federally taxed—through excise, or “sin,” taxes—to help pay for their hidden health or environmental costs. But although meat consumption is a health hazard and meat production is a leading source of environmental degradation, the meat industry has gotten off easy.
PETA is calling on members of Congress to support a sin tax on meat. Why? A 10-cent tax on every pound of chicken, turkey, pig, cow, fish, and other animal flesh sold in grocery stores and restaurants could help reduce Americans’ skyrocketing annual health-care 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.
Why Tax Meat?
The U.S. spends more on health care than any other nation and is one of the largest consumers of meat. Consider the following:
- 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.
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.
Tax Meat for the Environment
Scientists and world leaders increasingly agree that climate change is the biggest challenge that humanity faces. The federal government and state governments are currently debating a number of ways to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, such as requiring the production of more fuel-efficient vehicles, imposing a higher tax on gasoline, and mandating that household appliances be more energy efficient. But the truth is that the meat industry is one of the world’s leading causes of climate change. 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 gasses.
- The United Nations (U.N.) 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 U.S. meat consumption and help save our planet.
On today’s massive factory farms, animals are abused in horrible ways, including the following:
- 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.
When it comes to Americans’ meat habit, animals are paying the biggest costs. A tax on meat could persuade Americans to save animals (and their own bodies) from abuse.
You Can Help!
Support the tax on meat! Members of Congress need to hear from citizens like you about this issue. E-mail your legislators about this important proposal today using this simple automated form!