A meat tax is anything but progressive

There are other political movements going on other than Brexit, but they aren’t all good ideas.

Recently, Caroline Lucas, the only Green Party MP urged Parliament to consider introducing a ‘meat tax’. There has been increasing conversation about our consumption of meat over the years. Cattle farming is a major form of emissions of green house gases. Raising cattle has also, in some parts of the world, led to major deforestation partly for the space needed to raise cattle but also because of the space needed to produce the food which cattle themselves consume. All in all, the more popular meat is, the worse this will be for the environment.

However, arguing for a ‘meat tax’ is an attempt at a cheap headline that throws away any serious integrity the Greens may claim to own, as well as the idea that they are a truly progressive party.

“However, arguing for a ‘meat tax’ is an attempt at a cheap headline that throws away any serious integrity the Greens may claim to own”

Taxes which impact people for what they eat are regressive and will make inequality deepen. They will not punish the rich. Taxes will be an attack on farmers already struggling to make a living. Farmers should be urged to develop better practices and to become more sustainable. It would be far better to do this not by punishing them with poverty, but by ensuring they can easily switch to producing vegetation.

Additionally, a meat tax will punish working class families, many of whom are already struggling to put food on the table. In April, it was found that foodbank use in the UK had reached its highest recorded level. In September, a study found that 4.5 million children are living in poverty in the UK. Meat can be an essential part of the diet to keep children (and adults) healthy, particularly when the cost of alternative foods is often so high. Switching to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle is easy, cheap or often accessible. Disabled people will also face an unfair tax as many need certain diets to stay well. Something the Greens seem to show no concern or consideration for.

This is a cheap policy with no moral merit to it. It is a complacent attempt to get headlines, but in practice it will do nothing to make the world more environmentally-friendly or a more equal place. We cannot have class justice without environmental justice but it is also true that we cannot have environmental justice without class justice. The Greens have fought for years to destroy the idea that they are out of touch middle class dilettantes, and Caroline Lucas risks undoing all of their good work.

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