Danish Ethics Council Releases Report on Beef


Written by Nadine Grinberg

This past month, the 2016 Danish Ethics Council released a report that proposed increased tax regulation for climate-damaging foods. In addition to considering climate change, the Council also highlighted the ethical implications in the production and consumption of such foods. 

The proposed tax implementation is designed to emphasize the effects that beef and other animal agricultural industries are responsible for. Recently, these industries have had an increasingly large impact on other neighboring countries who suffer from the repercussions of climate change.

Overwhelming scientific evidence bolsters the argument and places governments, such as Denmark, in the position to protect the consumer and the environment. As the Danish report states, “researchers agree that the global production of beef significantly contributes to climate change because ruminants release large volumes of greenhouse gases.”

The Danish Ethics Council argues in favor of the suggestion to implement a tax on beef with three key points:

  • This tax would spread awareness about climate-damaging foods and their impact to those who may not even realize that they are an issue.
  • An increased price of beef would encourage consumers to make healthier and more environmentally friendly choices.
  • The implementation of this tax would promote plant-based vendors, restaurants, and other venues as viable options for those seeking an inexpensive and healthy meal.

The Council also brings attention to the issue of animal agricultural pricing. Currently, sales pricing is not an accurate reflection of the societal and environmental costs that production entails. Not to mention, the billions of dollars in tax cuts and government subsidies that countries such as the United States provide to animal agricultural industries each year, while giving practically nothing towards farming plant-based nutrition.

Some might be hesitant for an increase in taxation, but the mere fact that the discussion of these issues has reached lawmakers is serious progress. Providing consumers with a more informed and sustainable choice will bring us closer to a shared responsibility for climate change.