There are several good reasons to be a vegetarian, and the environmental impact of red meat is one of them. Cows account for at least 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and growing just one pound of beef requires almost 2,000 gallons of water. In light of such negative costs, the Danish Council of Ethics recently proposed to tax red meat.
The Council reportedly discussed the controversial measure for around six months to determine if government intervention is the way to go. Eventually 14 of the 17 members agreed to the suggestion, arguing that for most people, simply knowing the environmental cost of red meat isn’t enough to motivate them to action.
Denmark has a reputation for sustainability, from combating food waste through discount stores to divesting billions of dollars from fossil fuels, but some seem to think they’re going too far with a red meat tax. Venstre, Denmark’s liberal party currently heading the government (the prime minister is a member of Venstre), has indicated they’re not likely to implement the tax.
The Council, on the other hand, says if the tax were implemented, Denmark could potentially reduce their greenhouse gas emissions resulting from food “by 20 to 35 percent.” In a statement translated by Vice’s Munchies, Council of Ethics Chairman Mickey Gjerris said, “An effective response to climate-damaging foods that will also contribute to raising awareness of climate change must be united, which requires that society send a clear signal through regulation.”
A Venstre spokesperson said such a regulation may help Denmark, but wouldn’t make much of a dent worldwide. Denmark’s Agriculture and Food Council appeared to agree, saying it would be difficult to create a system for the tax and the results of the measure would be insignificant.