Why the meat tax makes me angry

The Good Life Letter 

16th November 2018

  • Why the latest ‘meat tax’ idea makes me angry
  • Yet again, the blame for the country’s health woes gets shifted onto the individual
  • And you’ll have to PAY for it
Here we go…

Scientists at the University of Oxford say governments should implement a tax on red meat.

Yes, all hail the coming MEAT TAX.

The words look awful on the page don’t they? Never mind what that would be like if it ever happened in reality.

When I saw the article on the BBC website I almost blew a gasket.

This is insane, quite frankly. Not because I believe red meat is some wonderful health elixir – I realise the many health concerns, environmental concerns and ethical issues with meat (as well as people’s ability to UNDERSTAND this before they chomp into a sausage).

The article quotes the World Health Organisation study from 2015 which warned that processed meats (like bacon, sausages and ham) could cause cancer and also that unprocessed red meat could increase the risk.
But even with this in mind, the meat tax is a bad idea.

Because the blame is yet again being put onto YOU…

The responsibility for the problems in our food supply, manufacture and distribution is being assigned to YOU.
It’s all YOU, YOU, YOU.

Not the system itself but the individual.

When the system starts to cause health problems instead of targeting the billion-pound industry, it makes the poorest in society foot the bill.

It’s ‘Mrs Jones’ who struggles with her pension who needs to cough up more for meat or abandon her Sunday lunch.

Meanwhile, mega profitable food corporations who care only about shareholders, get let off the hook – or even make more profit as people abandon fresh meat for items that they can brand and process and profit from.

Many Britons already struggle to afford food as it is.

Imposing a tax on meat will just make life harder for them, forcing them to seek out cheaper, less healthy food.
Do these researchers believe that making meat more expensive will suddenly get these people cooking lavish, balanced, tasty, vegetarian, chicken and fish dishes?

I don’t know – maybe they do!

Maybe they are so trapped in their university bubble that they don’t know how real people live and eat.

But let’s look at the current reality.

Cheap, low-nutrient food is everywhere

Masses of people across the country are abandoning real whole foods in favour of processed convenience foods that are packed with extra salts, sugar, preservatives, e-numbers and trans fats.

The reasons?

The processed stuff is easier to cook, quicker to get on the plate, cheaper and often comes with ‘healthy’ labels that lure people into thinking they’re as good as cooking a home meal.

The ease, cheapness and ubiquity of bad food is at a structural level, which needs to be addressed by the government.

Taxing red meat just makes yet another food ingredient too expensive. It takes money from farmers and drives it into the pockets of the processed food makers.

It’s also an authoritarian measure that won’t go down well. 

In my humble experience, telling people what to do with their food usually has the opposite effect.

In this latest study the researchers said that a meat tax could “prevent almost 6,000 deaths per year in the UK”.
Well, so could the following…

  • Educating kids in cooking and food science

  • Taxing the manufacturers of processed foods

  • Making healthy food accessible and affordable

  • Ending the marketing of unhealthy food

  • Promoting the specific benefits of our herbs, fruits and vegetables

As food writer Michael Pollan argues, cooking is the most important step we can take to end our dependence on addictive, unhealthy food made by corporations. 

So will the tax come into play?

I doubt the government will take it up, to be honest. But the story angers me because there are systematic health problems in the UK that should be tackled by empowering people with knowledge, not punishing them, taxing them, and driving them into poverty.

This is what I try to do in my very small way…

Broadly, I support eating more vegetables and fruit in the diet and cooking with whole foods as much as possible.
I hope these letters show you what’s possible when you use food to tackle your health issues and improve your wellbeing.

It means you have the knowledge to make your own decisions about drinking alcohol, eating meat and doing exercise without me wagging a finger at you and telling you off.

If you are vegan or vegetarian, all power to you; as long as you ensure you get enough fats and nutrients into your diet, you’ll be well.

If you are a meat eater that’s also fine, as long as you realise that too much red and processed meat is bad for you in the long run, and that you should get as many vegetables into your diet as you can.

Balance is the key.

Both options require more home cooking with whole, fresh ingredients, which means they are better than constantly eating fast food, ready meals and things from tins and jars.

If you want to avoid being part of the health problem, then instead of waiting for the government to tell you what NOT to do, try following some of the steps in my Natural Food Wisdom Pack

It includes carefully selected recipes to help balance the nutrition in your diet. But it also shows you how and when to source inexpensive ingredients.

Ultimately, it’s your responsibility to choose what you eat and what you don’t. As long as you know the pros and cons, you’ll make informed decisions about it.

Yours, as always




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