Thursday, November 08, 2018

Raising the steaks

Despite being a carnivore myself, I have to support the idea of a meat tax proposed by researchers at the University of Oxford. What's more, the disproportionately heavy rate suggested for processed meat (79 per cent, as opposed to 14 per cent for red meat) seems sensible, if the objective is to encourage people to eat healthier as well as better.

The argument for the introduction of the tax appears to be framed primarily in terms of improving public health. Personally speaking, I don't have any great ethical issue with eating meat, but the health impacts constitute a more compelling reason to cut down on consumption. More significant still, however, is the health of the planet and the long-term survival of the human race, with the terrifying recent IPCC report making clear that our lust for meat is having a profoundly damaging effect on our environment.

Inevitably, conservatives and libertarians would moan about the interference of the nanny state in individuals' private lives, and others would criticise it as a stealth tax on the poor. But to me it seems both inevitable and necessary. Significant modifications of behaviour, habits and attitudes do take place over time, but very often need to be catalysed by political and legal means - and in this instance things need to change fast.

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