Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) revealed on Friday that he is open to imposing a federal tax on meat and other animal products in an attempt to preserve the planet’s natural resources and help to combat climate change.
“As you probably know, animal agriculture is to blame for the majority of climate change and is the leading cause of deforestation, water and air pollution, and biodiversity loss. With that being known, what do you plan on doing to ensure that Americans limit their consumption of animal products?” a constituent asked Sanders at a campaign event in South Carolina. “Germany has imposed a meat tax in hopes of limiting this consumption,” she continued. “What are your plans to stop these large corporations from further usurping natural resources and polluting the planet?”
Sanders replied, “All I can say is if we believe, as I do and you do, that climate change is real then we are going to have to tackle it in every single area including agriculture, ok? And in fact, one of the things we want to do with our farmers out there is help them become more aggressive and able to help us combat climate change rather than contribute to it.”
“So we will certainly – you’re right,” he added. “We’ve got to look at agriculture, we’ve got to look at every cause of the crisis that we face.”
Sanders is not the only Democratic presidential candidate who has emphasized the need for Americans to consume less meat.
In June, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) agreed with an interviewer from NPR after he stated that in order to get to net zero emissions, people will have to adjust their routine such as converting to all-electric cars, moving into smaller houses, having fewer children, and eating less meat.
“Yeah, we’re going to have to make an investment as a country. It is not going to necessarily be easy,” he said at the time. “Here’s our generation’s opportunity to meet a true existential threat of this moment and I’m confident that that’s going to bring out the absolute best in us – nothing to be afraid of, something to meet head on and to overcome and do it together.”
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) may have been the first Democratic candidate to sound the alarm on America’s meat eating habits.
Only days after Booker, an avid vegan, officially launched his presidential campaign, he received backlash for stating that the United States’ rate of meat consumption is unsustainable and further pledged to fight against “industrial agriculture.”
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), who represents a state where agriculture manufacturing is one of the largest industries, mocked Booker’s assertion.
“Cory’s a good dude, but Tofurkey is a crime against humanity,” Sasse said in February. “Everybody needs real food to survive – if that food happens to be a juicy, perfectly cooked, medium rare steak from a cow raised here in Nebraska, count me in.”
“Farmers and ranchers work their butts off to feed the world,” he continued. “And that’s not just sustainable, it’s honorable.”