Want to Reduce the National Debt, Climate Change, and Health Care Costs? Tax Meat.

When people purchase cigarettes and alcohol, they’re charged an extra tax because these products are considered undesirable and harmful because of their negative health consequences. It’s known as a sin tax. States consider smoking and drinking as vices. These sin taxes provide the government additional revenue and are usually supported by the public because people can escape the taxes if they choose to avoid these non-essential products.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Republicans’ new tax proposal will add an estimated $1.5 trillion to the $20 trillion national debt. This from a party that prides itself on fiscal responsibility. Whoever said it was hard to inflate the stock market while eliminating the most basic regulations that protect animals, people, and the planet to allow corporations to run roughshod while ballooning the national debt with tax cuts for billionaires who don’t need them? This is no accomplishment; it’s a disaster in the making.

Given the reckless policies of the federal government, states should consider adding another product to the sin tax list: meat. In addition to causing health problems such as cancer, eating meat drives up health care costs, pollutes air and water, releases climate-change causing greenhouse gases, and harms animals. Meat is sin personified. It’s even worse than tobacco and alcohol. Eating it is indefensible.

A new report by Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return predicts a tax on meat is coming because it is so harmful to society. The timing is perfect. And as companies like Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, Gardein, Tofurky, and Field Roast offer more sustainable, humane, delicious, affordable, and healthier plant-based meat alternatives, and as clean-meat companies like Memphis Meats enter the marketplace, the government should offer subsidies to these better options. These are common sense reforms that reflect the time in which we live. Consumers and the government should embrace them.

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