How to Torpedo the Meat Industry: Tax Unhealthful Foods

The Urban Institute is recommending imposing a tax on fatty and unhealthful foods:

Obesity is widely recognized as one of the country’s leading public health problems. The obese and overweight experience chronic illness, poor health, and more than 100,000 preventable deaths each year. For the average affected individual, obesity has a much greater impact on health status and health care costs than either smoking or heavy drinking.

In purely financial terms, obesity and excess weight reduce the productivity of American industry and cause over $200 billion in annual health care spending, half of which is funded by the taxpayers. Further, private premiums for nonobese workers are nearly $26 billion higher each year because of obesity-generated health care costs. If recent trends continue, 40 percent of adults will be obese in just 6 years and, for the first time in history, Americans’ average life span will shrink rather than grow.

This could be a sensational thing for the veggie movement to get behind; perhaps even the greatest opportunity we’ve had to date. If you think about the above excerpt, there’s no reason why tobacco and booze should be taxed, while bacon goes untaxed.

An effort to impose a sizable tax on unhealthful foods would receive the backing of powerful groups outside the veggie movement. And if a tax is won, and the other measures recommended by this report are enacted, it would greatly reduce the number of animals raised for food.

I’ve said this before, but one of the main reasons that Americans eat so much meat is that, for instance, a vegan burrito costs $4 while a beef burrito costs $5. If we reach a point where vegan burritos cost $4 and beef burritos cost $7 or even $10, consumer behavior would transform overnight. Link.