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Article
Publication date: 30 June 2021

Philippa Simmonds and Signild Vallgårda

This paper qualitatively explores arguments in the UK meat tax debate, including how they align with values from specific political ideologies and perspectives on sustainable food…

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper qualitatively explores arguments in the UK meat tax debate, including how they align with values from specific political ideologies and perspectives on sustainable food security.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors conducted a scoping media analysis of articles published over 1 year in six leading UK newspapers, followed by semi-structured interviews with ten key stakeholders in late 2019. The authors identified categories of arguments, distilled the core conflicts and analysed how arguments reflected different ideas about human nature, the role of the state and solutions to food system challenges.

Findings

Arguments were categorised into five major topics: climate change and environment; human health; effects on animals; fairness; and acceptability of government intervention. Pro-meat tax arguments often aligned with modern liberal ideology, and sometimes echoed demand restraint or food system transformation perspectives on sustainable food security. Arguments against meat taxes were more likely to align with the efficiency perspective or classical liberal ideology.

Originality/value

To the authors’ knowledge, this is one of the first interpretive analyses of this controversial suggested policy. Despite having similarities with other debates around taxation – particularly taxes on sugar sweetened beverages – the meat tax debate contains unique complexities due to the prominence of environmental arguments, and differing values pertaining to animal welfare and rights. This study highlights the need for policy research exploring values, in addition to quantitative evidence.

Details

International Journal of Health Governance, vol. 26 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2059-4631

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