Scientists have recommended governments across the globe impose a meat tax to save thousands of lives and huge amounts in healthcare expenditure.
The research from the University of Oxford, which was published in health journal PLOS, concluded a meat tax on pork, beef and lamb would save the UK alone £734m in healthcare and 6,000 lives a year.
A tax would reduce red meat intake and prevent heart-attacks, strokes and cancers, according to researchers.
The suggested tax rise for the UK would be 14 percent added to red meats and 80 percent to processed meats. Estimates suggest this could add more than 50 percent to the price of a fry-up.
Lead researcher Dr Marco Springmann, from the Nuffield Department of Population Health at Oxford University, said: “The consumption of red and processed meat exceeds recommended levels in most high and middle-income countries.
“This is having significant impacts not only on personal health, but also on healthcare systems, which are taxpayer-funded in many countries, and on the economy, which is losing its labour force due to ill health and care for family members who fall ill.”
The UK results were only one portion of the study. If every country in the world introduced a tax it would save 220,000 lives and $40bn in healthcare, according to research.
“Nobody wants governments to tell people what they can and can’t eat,” Springmann continued.
“However, our findings make it clear that the consumption of red and processed meat has a cost, not just to people’s health and to the planet, but also to the healthcare systems and the economy.”
Meat-eaters were predictably upset by the proposal. Former Editor of Loaded magazine Martin Daubney suggested a ‘tax on vegans’ on the Jeremy Vine Show, instead of the red meat tax.
He said: “I’d like to flip this on its head and say that we should tax vegans. I’ll tell you why. Because this is an absolute nonsense.
“The 6,000 deaths per year – they don’t live forever. They’re not like Doctor Who. They just die of something else.
“The £70million saved isn’t saved because if you look at the age that we die at now we’re getting older and the longer we live the more expensive we are to the NHS. Two-fifths of the NHS budget goes on the over 65s.”
The research supports numerous studies which conclude that red meat can increase chances of heart problems, strokes and cancers.
The results simply show in plain numbers what a huge difference a tax can make to the economy and more importantly, people’s lives.
The reaction from meat-eaters has been one of outrage, with claims the government would be interfering in our lives too much by introducing a tax.
But this approach is short-sighted. Yes, people can spend their money on what they want, but taxes should reflect the strains a product has on society.
Would it be any different from current taxes on alcohol and tobacco? Is an 80% tax on processed meat so scandalous when evidence suggests it will save thousands of lives?
Processed meats are shockingly cheap partly due to the horrific suffering many animals endure in their creation.
Red and processed meats cause human death, damage to the environment and suffering to animals. Surely a tax can only be a good thing.
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