New Delhi: Animal rights body PETA asked the government to levy a tax on meat and other animal derived foods for their damaging effects on environment and public health, on the lines of a similar tax imposed on tobacco.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, in a letter to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, requested him to consider taxing meat and other animal derived foods to discourage their consumption.
“PETA India asks that India tax meat and other animal derived foods for their damaging effects on the environment and the public’s health the same way there are increased taxes in countries around the world on other unhealthy or damaging goods such as tobacco,” said Nikunj Sharma, Lead–Public Policy, PETA India.
In India, the consumption of beef, chicken, eggs, dairy and other animal derived foods is on a rapid rise, it said, asserting that between 2003 and 2013, meat consumption more than doubled in the country.
While vegetarian and vegan eating is also increasing (between 2004 and 2014, there was a five per cent growth in the number of vegetarians in India), the amount of meat, eggs or dairy foods consumed per person in India is the highest it has been in history and it is projected to grow further.
India’s chicken meat consumption is growing annually at about 12 per cent, the letter said.
“This extraordinary upsurge in the consumption and production of these foods in India adversely impacts animals, of course, but also the health of its citizens, water availability, air and water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change and food supply to the poor in colossal ways,” it said.
It said India now tops the charts in many diet-related ailments and pointed out that cardiovascular disease was the leading cause of death in India, while stroke was also a main cause of death and disability in the country.
It said India is also the world leader in diabetes, its cancer rate is out of control, and childhood obesity is at a crisis point.
It asserted that India is home to 20 per cent of the world’s cattle and buffalo population and 11 per cent of world goat and sheep population, which are bred predominantly to be used for meat or dairy production.
The animal rights body said according to satellite data from our space programme, ruminant animals transfer almost 12 million tonnes of methane–which traps 25 times as much heat as carbon dioxide does–into the atmosphere via flatulence every year.
It said while India tops the world hunger list with 194 million people and as 77 million people in the country lack access to safe water, the production of meat, eggs and dairy foods uses one-third of the world’s fresh water resources as well as one-third of the world’s global cropland as feed for animals.
“Taxing meat could discourage citizens from consuming these damaging products and could bring in revenue that could help support costs related to damage to public health and the environment because of meat, eggs and dairy foods.
“Won’t India, a country known for its cultural respect for animals, and with a Constitution that requires all of its citizens to protect and improve the natural environment…and to have compassion for living creatures take the lead on taxing meat and other animal derived foods?” it asked.