According to Business Insider, governments are weighing the idea of taxing meat just as alcohol and tobacco products are taxed. This new “sin” tax would turn the routine task of eating meat into a vice that endangers the planet.
Indeed, a recent UN report found that the human food system accounts for 37% of all greenhouse-gas emissions. Production of Meat, especially red meat, is responsible for much of the damage, and therefore should be stopped.
The current proposal is part of a two-prong process. The first is to allow the government to tax meat to discourage use. The second is to abolish the practice of eating meat altogether as harmful and even socially “sinful” since it harms the planet.
Typically, “sin taxes” are placed on alcohol and tobacco products. These taxes do not carry the same political risk as other forms of taxation. Part of the public supports them because they see the use of either product as a vice. Others are happy to shift the tax burden to products they don’t use. Many times these taxes are used to support schools or other projects.
Those who use these products are unlikely to complain since they are left free pursue what others see as a vice. They pay their way and avoid the outright banning of their habits. The taxation of distilled spirits in the United States goes back to the 1790s. Taxes on cigarettes began during the twenties.
Presenting Meat as Murder
Meat is different. Few have seen the habit of eating meat as a vice. It was always seen as part of normal nutrition. However, these are ever more vegan times. Animal rights activists and environmentalist have teamed up to make meat eating verboten.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), for example, was formed in 1980. It specializes in public demonstrations designed to shock the public. The group spearheaded the “animal rights” movement that maintains the equality of all animals and therefore that people should avoid harming any other animal. Among their many slogans is the phrase, “Meat is Murder.”
Meat consumption also attracts the ire of the environmentalists. Here the logic is simple. According to one estimate, it takes roughly nine pounds of grain to produce one pound of beef. Fossil fuels power the equipment used to raise that grain, thus presenting a threat to the environment. The argument further holds that nine pounds of grain would be more efficient if consumed by humans as bread or cereal.
Many argue that these assumptions prove that the consumption of meat is harmful and should be taxed if not forbidden. However, there are arguments that refute this error and leave the consumer’s conscience tranquil when eating a large steak. Some possible responses include the following.
- God ordained the consumption of meat. Human beings are created with the ability to derive nourishment from meat products. While certain types of meat were proscribed in the Old Testament, nowhere in the Bible or tradition is there any prohibition against meat consumption per se. Indeed, the Bible is full of meat reference. The Israelites, for example, are commanded to eat of the Paschal lamb. In the New Testament, Saint Peter is commanded to eat of meats prescribed by the old law as a sign of the need to minister to the Gentiles. The “rights” of the fatted calf are not mentioned in the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
- Animals do not and cannot have rights, as humans do. Rights come from God as derived from human moral nature. As unconscious beings incapable of moral acts, animals do not share those rights. Indeed, animals instinctively kill other animals for food.
- Efforts to restrict or tax meat take away traditional freedoms. Many lawmakers will use taxes or bans not to prevent cruelty to animals but to promote their socialist agendas. Taxes tend to increase the power of the government that levies it. So-called sin taxes are collected not to raise revenue, but regulate people’s behavior. In McCulloch v. Maryland (1819), Chief Justice John Marshall stated a great truth when he wrote, “The power to tax is the power to destroy.”
- Many animals raised for food would not exist if humans did not eat meat. Farmers raise animals but also protect them from predators. Any liberated cows would not be set free in pastoral bliss since cows are ill-equipped to survive in the wild. Other animals would brutally exterminate them.
- Eliminating meat from the diet would cost many people their jobs. Rasing, processing and cooking meat all employ people who in turn support families. In the highly mechanized meat processing industry alone, the S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that over 75,000 people make their livings. The restaurant business is also heavily reliant on meat. Severely limiting meat consumption will eliminate many of these jobs, creating suffering and uncertainty for their families.
These are only a few of the many reasons to oppose the war on meat. Proposals like meat taxes must be resisted and unmasked for what they are—socialist actions. Socialism will never work because it denies the most basic tenets of human nature—and in this case animal nature.