For Immediate Release:

14 May 2020

New Budget Release Prompts Charity to Suggest ‘Sin Tax’ Solution

Wellington – As the 2020/21 budget is unveiled, animal protection group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has written to New Zealand Minister of Finance Grant Robertson urging him to consider a meat and dairy tax to help the economy, the environment, and animals – and ease the pressure on the health-care system.

The letter points out that encouraging New Zealanders to reduce their meat and dairy consumption – and supporting farmers in making the transition to plant-based agriculture – would not only help prevent further zoonotic pandemics, help reach vital environmental goals, and end the suffering of millions of sentient beings but also ease the health-care burden of preventable killers such as heart disease and some cancers.

“The World Health Organization has classified the consumption of processed meat as ‘carcinogenic to humans’, meaning that, just like smoking cigarettes, eating bacon, ham, or sausages is incontrovertibly harmful to human health,” writes PETA Senior Outreach and Partnerships Manager Emily Rice in the letter, adding that the Cancer Society of New Zealand links meat consumption to the nation’s second most common cancer (bowel), while a study published in February found that people who ate two servings of red or processed meat per week had a 3% and 7% higher risk, respectively, of cardiovascular disease – New Zealand’s biggest killer, claiming a life every 90 minutes.

The letter goes on to cite the Environment Aotearoa 2019 report, which found that a 40% increase in pastureland coupled with a 70% increase in the national dairy herd is contributing to the nation’s damaging nitrogen levels, while ruminant animals such as sheep (who outnumber human New Zealanders six to one) emit methane – a greenhouse gas 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

“Of course, it’s not just about human health or the planet,” writes Rice. “The tens of millions of animals raised for their flesh in New Zealand each year suffer immensely, and I’m sure you’ll agree that anything that reduces this harm would be welcome.”

PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat” – opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist view of the world.

The group’s letter can be found here.

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