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How Much Dead Animals on Your Plate Should Really Cost According To Study

by | November 26, 2018

A study from Oxford University, United Kingdom has calculated how much dead animals that people consume should really cost when considering the health care system burden of caring for people who eat processed meat products. 

After the release of the WHO (World Health organization’s) finding that meat consumption is related to health complications such as type two diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, with on average of fifty thousand people dying from dead animals consumption yearly. The scientists from the Oxford study, have calculated that it will cost two hundred and fifty-one billion in medical treatments in the year 2020. 

The study, run by Springmann M, Mason-D’Croz D, Robinson S, Wiebe K, Godfray HCJ, Rayner M, et al. wanted to show that health motivated taxes on red meat would show a decrease in consumption.

dead animals
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Eliminating Dead Animals Through Taxation

Market-based approaches to regulation have gained popularity in public health research and the public debate. In particular health-motivated taxes have been widely discussed, and implemented in some countries, e.g. for sugar-sweetened beverages, and saturated fats. The tax levels discussed or implemented have mostly been based on practical considerations on their likely impact. However, from an economic perspective, health-motivated taxes are so-called Pigouvian taxes whose purpose it is to correct for the unintended and previously unaccounted consequences to society of an economic activity (in this case, the negative health impacts associated with red and processed meat consumption) by incorporating the cost of those consequences into the price of the activity or good. 

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They estimated that the introduction of such health taxes would reduce global meat consumption by up to 16%. As a side effect, 110 million tonnes of greenhouse gases produced by farm animals would be eliminated every year.

However, they did stress that while populations have free will to eat as they wish, a tax would 
“not only has an impact on personal health, but also entails costs for society and the environment.”

Under optimal taxation, the price for one serving of red and processed meat reflects the health costs associated with one additional serving of red and processed meat. Integrating the health costs associated with one serving of red and processed meat into the prices of one serving of red and processed meat increased the price of red meat by 4% on average, ranging from less than 1% in low-income countries to 21% in high-income countries, and the price of processed meat by 25%, ranging from 1% in low-income countries to 111% in high-income countries.

What do you think, would a dead animals tax make people choose vegan instead? Let us know in the comments. 


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Emma Williams

Associate Editor, USA | Contactable via [email protected]

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