The UK Health Alliance on Climate Change (UKHACC) released a report backing the call for a tax to be implemented on meat products.

Health professionals have been proposing a tax on meat for some time – and now the head of a plant-based meat firm has weighed into the argument.

What is a meat tax?

As it says on the tin – or, more likely, the shrink-wrapped plastic wrapper – it’s a tax on meat aimed at introducing a levy on a foodstuff deemed unhealthy in large quantities and whose production has been shown to be detrimental to the environment.

Load of mince?

Far from it. Ethical concerns around animal welfare aside, meat is not bad for us and indeed it provides many essential nutrients. However, even in moderation, processed meats such as bacon and sausages increase the risk of heart disease markedly. The risks are lower for unprocessed red meat and lower still for poultry, but it is still the case that the more meat you consume, the higher the risk of developing one of several common health conditions.

On the environmental front, the livestock industry accounts for nearly 51{85424e366b324f7465dc80d56c21055464082cc00b76c51558805a981c8fcd63} of global greenhouse gas emissions according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, so eating less meat can go some way to tackling the coming climate crisis. Last autumn, the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change (UKHACC), a body including 10 Royal Colleges of medicine, the British Medical Association and The Lancet, published a report recommending that food with a heavy environmental impact be taxed no later than 2025. They’re coming for your loin, your rump and your ribeye.

What is plant-based meat?

A meat substitute – looks like it, tastes like it – made from plants. Ingredients vary but you’re likely to find soy and wheat as well as combinations of pea, fava or potato proteins, oils, starches and whatever other secret ingredients manufacturers come up with to mimic meat. Beetroot juice and apple extract are sometimes used to help give it its colour, for instance.

Ultimately it’s all about providing a facsimile of the all-important Maillard Reaction, which gives meat its meaty brown appearance and (to some, not all) its delicious meaty smell. Plant-based burger company Beyond Meat took six years developing its Beyond Burger, which launched in 2015 and it’s Beyond Meat founder Ethan Brown, whose company provides burgers to McDonald’s among others, who is adding his voice to those backing the call for a tax on meat.

Can you tax meat?

Not according to the UK government. Its recently-published National Food Strategy (NFS) joined the calls from the Climate Change Committee for a drastic reduction in meat consumption, but while the NFS did propose taxes on salt and sugar in foodstuffs it stopped short of proposing a tax on meat. Boris Johnson, meanwhile, has ruled it out completely.

Could it happen anyway?

Why not. Politicians in Germany, Sweden and Denmark are actively lobbying for it and a survey earlier this year found that 70{85424e366b324f7465dc80d56c21055464082cc00b76c51558805a981c8fcd63} of consumers in France, Germany and Holland support it. Economists call this sort of thing a ‘pigouvian tax’, meaning a tax on any activity which has negative effects on society. It’s named for British economist Arthur Pigou and is an excellent Scrabble word.

Original source: https://www.heraldscotland.com