Commentary: ‘Sin tax’ on meat and dairy sales needed in Delaware

The following is a letter sent to Delaware State Rep. Michael Smith who proposed a ban on paper bags to help curtail human impact on the environment:

Dear Mr. Smith,

I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our more than 6.5 million members and supporters, including thousands across Delaware, regarding your proposed ban on paper bags.

We applaud your efforts to protect the environment with this initiative. In addition, since the United Nations has stated that a global shift toward a vegan diet is necessary to combat the worst effects of climate change, we respectfully ask that you consider animal agriculture’s deleterious impact on the environment, too, and boldly propose a much-needed “sin tax” on meat and dairy sales in Delaware.

The shocking link between climate change and animal agriculture has been extensively documented. A recent analysis by a team of international scientists has found that massive reductions in meat consumption are essential to avoid dangerous climate change, including cutting beef consumption by 90% and dairy milk consumption by 60% in Western countries.

Globally, the average person will need to eat 75% less beef, 90% less pork, and half the number of eggs. In fact, meat production has such a devastating effect that the Union of Concerned Scientists lists meat-eating as the second-biggest environmental hazard facing the Earth.

When land is used to raise animals instead of crops, precious water and soil are lost, trees are cut down to clear land for grazing or factory-farm sheds, and untreated animal waste pollutes rivers and streams. Meat, egg, and dairy production are unsustainable.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, animal agriculture is responsible for nearly a fifth (18%) of human-induced greenhouse-gas emissions. A recent study by the University of Oxford found that eliminating animal products can reduce a person’s food carbon footprint by 73% and that if everyone went vegan, global land use could be reduced by 75%.

Thankfully, there is an endless variety of healthy and eco- and animal-friendly vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes, including two important Delaware crops, apples and soybeans. Tofu, made from soybeans, is cholesterol-free and rich in calcium and iron, and it packs 11 grams of protein per serving.

Perhaps you might offer incentives to farmers if they boost production of food-grade apples and soybeans to offset any financial consequences from the tax and to help others make the transition away from animal agriculture.

Ingrid E. Newkirk is president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

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