The famous roast beef of old England may be safe for now, but the threat of a future ‘meat tax’ still looms on the horizon as a way to fulfil the British government’s commitment to its climate goals.
This man, apparently, knows what’s good for you and what isn’t
The UK government’s National Food Strategy will report its findings today after a two-year investigation into the future of food in Britain. The report was prompted by the country’s decision to leave the EU in 2016, which threatened widespread disruption to food supply-chains.
Few are likely to be surprised by the overall thrust of the commission’s findings (eat less meat and more plant-based food). On Monday we reported the words of a British journalist who stated baldly, on national television, that the British government would have to ‘find ways of forcing people’ to eat less red meat, but the chair of the Food Strategy, Henry Dimbleby, has stopped short of recommending a meat tax, believing rightly that it would prove ‘unpopular’.
If the UK population is anything like the Australian, a meat tax would prove deeply unpopular. In a recent survey of Australian men, a massive 73% stated they would rather live ten years less than give up meat.
Although he blinked at the suggestion of a meat tax, Dimbleby has proposed a world-first ‘snack tax’. This would involve a tax of £3 per kilogram on sugar and £6 per kilogram on salt sold wholesale for use in processed foods, or in restaurants and catering businesses. Britain has had a sugar tax on soft drinks since 2018. This could add as much as £3.4billion a year to families’ shopping bills, according to the Daily Mail, because the costs to manufacturers and caterers would of course be passed on to the customer.
We don’t disagree that processed food is seriously harmful. Take the example of the ‘floating supermarket’ that helped cause an obesity crisis in the Amazon, for instance. The question is whether truly healthy foods will be offered to ordinary people instead.
Dimbleby claims the money should be used to pay for GPs to prescribe fruit, vegetables and cookery classes on the NHS to help prevent obesity and ill-health.
Dimbleby is also an enthusiastic advocate of new sources of plant-based protein, including algae and lab-grown ‘meat’.
The report says that to fulfil the Government’s targets on health, climate change and nature, the nation’s diet needs to change drastically by 2032. Fruit and vegetable consumption will have to increase by 30% and fibre intake by 50%, while consumption of food high in saturated fat, salt and sugar will have to go down by 25%. Meat consumption will have to be reduced by 30%.
Dimbleby is confident these goals can be met: ‘With the right leadership from government, it is well within our power to change the system so it makes both us and the planet healthier.’
The recommendations, and also the dire predictions if they aren’t fulfilled, will probably surprise few of our readers; the two go hand in hand these days. It probably also won’t surprise you, if you’ve been following our regular reporting on plant-based foods, that the mounting evidence that these foods can be extremely bad for you continues to go completely ignored.
Take the recent soybean oil study we discussed. Mice fed soybean oil, the most widely consumed oil in the US and a supposedly ‘healthy’ plant-based alternative to animal fats, suffered serious genetic dysregulation which led to weight gain and neurological problems.
In our article we wrote:
‘Among the genes that were dysregulated by the soybean-oil diets were genes associated with inflammation, neuroendocrine, neurochemical, and insulin signalling, as well as the production of oxytocin, an important hormone.
…oxytocin is involved in empathy and social bonding, as well as other important biological processes including weight gain. Many of the genes that were dysregulated by the soybean oils are also linked to neurological diseases including Alheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s and autism.
Insulin resistance… was increased by the soybean diets, and the mice on the conventional soybean oil experienced the greatest amount of weight gain, despite consuming the same amount of calories as the others.’
In our most popular article thus far, we looked at a little known study of monkeys which showed that long-term consumption of soy phytoestrogens turned them into aggressive loners.
Joe Rogan picked up on our soy-monkey article
Even advocates of plant-based diets have been forced to admit in recent months that such products just aren’t very good, and in fact that many plant-based meat replacements qualify as unhealthy ultra-processed foods. A recent lab comparison of meats and their plant-based alternatives only underscored the nutritional gulf that still separates the two.
This is barely the tip of the iceberg, and we’ve yet to mention the environmental costs of a global intensification of plant, vegetable and grain agriculture to meet the needs of a global population of billions living meat-free. Why are these never mentioned?
We are unlikely to have a fair or balanced debated about the health crises facing the developed world, or indeed the environment, until such evidence is also part of the discussion.
Advocates of a near-total or total switch to plant-based diets are adopting an increasingly shrill tone as they warn of imminent climate disaster in a matter of decades or even years. And, funnily enough, this has occurred at precisely the same time that it has become clear that appeals to health and taste claims for plant-based products have fallen totally flat and will continue to.
One study showed, for instance, that social pressure was the best way to get people to choose plant-based alternatives to meat.
As we explained in our article on the study:
‘Researchers conducted two experiments on the advertising of plant-based burgers and meatballs. In the first experiment, 156 participants were shown one of three made-up commercials for a plant-based burger. Each commercial featured a unique appeal: a social appeal (“good for the environment and animal welfare”), a health appeal (“good for your health – no cholesterol and more fiber”) or a taste appeal (“tasty and delicious – just like a beef burger”). Each commercial presented the same nutritional information, that the ersatz meats had similar caloric and protein content as their real counterparts.
The participants were then asked to record their preference on a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 meaning they would definitely prefer a beef version and 7 meaning they would definitely prefer the plant-based alternative. Results showed that the participants exposed to the social appeal were most likely to choose the plant-based alternative, whereas the health and taste appeals fell flat.’
The researchers end their article by advising plant-based burger manufacturers, such as Impossible and Beyond Meat, to adapt their marketing accordingly and incorporate more social pressure strategies.
Companies like ‘oat-milk’ manufacturer Oatly have definitely taken this lesson to heart, and are now using shame as a key ingredient in their advertising. Consider their ‘Help Dad’ campaign, for example, which features smarmy teenagers chastising their un-woke fathers for choosing to drink cow’s milk instead of a slurry of oats, sugar and vegetable oil.
Although British meat lovers can rest easy for now, the writing, as they as say, is on the wall. It may only be a matter of time before a meat tax, justified as a means to save the planet, finally becomes a reality.
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