Is a meat tax inevitable?

  • 3 min read
  • 1 Nov 2023

Today we’re discussing a topic which will make a lot of vegans hap-pea.🫛

The possibility of a meat tax.

In aid of World Vegan Day, we’re unpacking the tax. What is it? Who’s it for? And, will it ever come to fruit(ion)? 🍇

Although today’s a celebratory day for some, others may feel not-so-peachy (cough-cough carnivores). But don’t throw away your BBQs quite yet!

What is a meat tax? 

In most countries, a meat tax is still largely hypothetical. But, with growing concerns over climate change, Dutch, French and German governments, to name a few, have realised it’s time we face the mooo-sic. 👂

With a tax on meat, scientists believe we’d improve both our environment and our health. Doesn’t sound too cynical, right? 

The idea behind it? Well, it’s assumed that higher meat prices would discourage shoppers from buying and consuming meat as frequently. Although, we’re sure some of you may beg to differ. Spare the ribs! 🥩

How’s my health?

Surprisingly, we’re not talking about your financial health. Instead, we’re taking an oat chai latte break to serve a few non-tax facts. 

Did you know that consuming too much meat isn’t great for your physical health? Well, if you didn’t, don’t beef us. It was the NHS who said it first! 🤒

According to research by Harvard Medical School, there’s a clear link between a high intake of red and processed meats and medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. 

Heavy-hitting stuff, we know. But, it explains why some people favour a tax which would presumably encourage us to consume less of it. 

What’s up with the environment? 

Here’s the thing. Meat production isn’t exactly environmentally friendly. 😬

  • It contributes to deforestation and forest fires – especially when farmers deliberately start fires to clear land for cattle grazing 🔥
  • It has a huge impact on our climate – meat production contributes to the release of greenhouse gases, including methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide into the atmosphere 🌍
  • It can pollute water sources – as animal manure accumulates, large amounts of nitrates and phosphates can pass into the soil and the groundwater 🚰

But, we’d guava not be environmental educators or soil scientists. We’re here to talk tax. 

How high are the steaks?

At the moment, we’d say medium-rare. It’s unlikely that we’ll see any imminent changes to our supermarket shops. 🔮

In other words, there’s no need to stockpile sausages. 

But, there are concerns over how a meat tax could affect the UK’s lowest-income families.

Which brings us right back to our home turf. So, let’s talk tax. 🏡

Our response to this concern is that it would depend on how the government spends the revenue earned from a meat tax. A daunting prospect, we know. 🫠

In absolute terms, higher-income households spend more on meat, meaning they would contribute the most taxes. And low-income families might even benefit if the revenue was spent on social welfare. This is, of course, a big if. 

One thing we can assume is that with a meat tax in place, the government may be more inclined to lower value-added taxes on fruit and vegetables.  

VAT (Value Added Tax) is a tax added on most goods and services in the UK.

Right now the VAT rate for most goods and services is 20%.

Until we meat again

So, will there be a tax on meat? 

We’re afraid it seems like the jury’s still out on this one. 

But, one thing we do know is that there will be no new tax without careful (we hope) consideration for our economy first. 💸

And agricultural economics is no simple matter.

According to the University of Bristol, the introduction of a meat tax could cost the UK’s economy £242 million a year. Yikes! 🤯

Here’s what else they found out: 

Savings resulting from reduced climate emissions were calculated in the region of £100 million per annum. 😲

But, a meat tax could also force grazing livestock farms out of the industry. As well as impacting consumers and farmers, the knock-on effects would be felt right along supply chains as well as rural communities that support and are supported by farmers.

We sure are glad we won’t be calling the shots on this one. 🙃

Viva la vegan

Whilst we’re unsure if and when we’ll ever see a meat tax, there’s one thing we do know.

Just like taxes, vegans are going nowhere.That being said, avo-great day, folks! 👋

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