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From brat to wurst? Germany proposes beefing up meat tax to battle climate change

From brat to wurst? Germany proposes beefing up meat tax to battle climate change
Meat-lovers in Germany may soon be forced to cut back on steak and sausage consumption; lawmakers have proposed nearly tripling the tax on meat in an effort to improve animal welfare and cut CO2 emissions.

German politicians on Wednesday proposed raising the value added tax (VAT) on meat from a reduced rate of 7%, which it currently enjoys, to the standard state rate of 19%.

I am in favor of abolishing the VAT reduction for meat and earmarking it for more animal welfare,” said Friedrich Ostendorf, agricultural policy spokesperson for the Greens.

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His colleague from the Social Democrats (SPD) Rainer Spiering noted in turn that “a meat tax, such as increasing the VAT to 19%, could be a way forward.

The agriculture spokesperson from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) also expressed willingness to discuss the plans.

Such a tax can be a constructive proposal,” said Albert Stegemann, adding, however, that “the additional tax revenue should be used to support livestock farmers to help them restructure.

The politicians suggested the funds raised from the extra tax revenue could be spent on animal welfare, especially given that the entire German meat industry has recently been negatively criticized for its treatment of livestock. Last month, Germany’s top court made headlines after officially allowing the slaughter of male chicks, some 45 million per year, until a method to determine the sex of a chicken embryo in the egg is discovered.

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Meat is moderately cheap in Germany; the nation is famous for its burgers, bratwursts and curry-wurst. However, meat has been losing its status as Germany’s favorite food with meatless lifestyle trends, such as vegetarianism and veganism, spreading at lightning speed. Up to 2,000 Germans per day are deciding to go vegetarian, according to the supermarket group REWE. Vegetarians currently make up 10 per cent of the German population, estimates claim.

Latest studies suggest red meat intake should be limited to several grams a day or abolished altogether, warning that consequences of meat consumption could result in millions of deaths and “catastrophicdamage to the planet.

They name life-threatening diseases including obesity, diabetes, malnutrition and several types of cancer as being linked to meat-based diets. Scientists have repeatedly named the meat industry one of the highest emitters of CO2, which is considered a key driver of climate change. 

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