Even with inflation, more than a third of Americans support a meat tax

Meaty choice.
Meaty choice.
Image: REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo
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Meat has been one of the foods most affected by inflation, but despite high prices, a new survey found that 37% of participants said they would support an extra 10% meat tax to cut consumption.

Gen Z showed greater interest in government policies to reduce meat consumption, with 62% supporting a meat tax, and 71% advocating subsidies to reduce prices and stimulate innovation.

The survey from Veylinx, a consumer research company, was conducted in March among 3,538 US consumers over the age of 18.

What a meat tax could look like

The idea is that higher taxes on meat would cut consumption, which would be good for the environment and improve individual health. To reduce meat consumption in the US, substantial public policy measures need to be put in place, nutrition experts say.

In 2011, the Danish government implemented a saturated tax fat, which raised prices on items like meat and eggs, but the plan was scrapped a year later over concerns about food prices and jobs. A study (pdf) published in Nature found that the Danish tax reduced saturated fat intake by 4%. Since then, cities like Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Berkeley, California have passed soda taxes, and the experience has taught public health groups how to more clearly communicate what taxes on food would mean for US consumers, Marco Springmann, a senior researcher in population health at University of Oxford told Marketplace. Outside of the US, there’s been a growing movement for countries including Germany, Denmark (again), and Sweden to consider a meat tax.

Curbing consumption would mean less production, but the revenue the government raises from the tax could be used to compensate farmers or help livestock producers diversify their businesses.

In the US, opponents say that a meat tax could disproportionately hurt low-income communities where access to fresh fruit and vegetables is limited, and for whom meat is more accessible.

More broadly though, the survey findings suggest that many, especially young people, believe the government should take more responsibility when it comes to reducing meat consumption rather than relying on individual choice.