How Vegans Could Pre-empt the Sugar Tax

In 2016, the most searched word in Australia was ‘vegan’, according to Google Trends. This confirms what you may already know. The vegan diet is no longer a fringe fad. In fact, it’s steadily booming.

Now in case you don’t know exactly what a vegan is, or why anyone would want to be one, allow me to explain.

Put simply, vegans don’t eat or use any animal products. They opt for plant-based alternatives instead. That means no eggs, milk, cheese, fish, or meat. Sorry, not even bacon.

Sound crazy? I know, but hear me out.

A decade ago, veganism was relatively unheard of. It was mainly associated with stereotypical fringe groups, like the vocal animal rights activists who shout, ‘Fur is murder!’ Yet now it’s tipping into the mainstream, with almost 11.2% of Australians adopting the lifestyle since 2012, according to a Roy Morgan Research study.

So why would you want to ‘go vegan’?

The most conventional reason is the ethical concerns with consuming and using animal products. That includes the often needless suffering of animals.

Another popular reason for going vegan is the negative environmental impact of animal agriculture. Environmental research conducted by Stanford University, for example, shows that animal agriculture accounts for 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

However, a more tangible reason for going vegan is to lose weight and improve your overall health. A vegan diet consists largely of nutrient dense and fibre-rich foods. These include fruit, nuts, grains, seeds and vegetables. All of which are considerably lower in fat than animal based foods.

But don’t just take my word for it.

In 39 past studies published by JAMA Internal Medicine, covering 22,000 people, vegans and vegetarians on average weighed less and had lower blood pressure than meat eaters. Study results also revealed that if the person maintained their plant based diet, their risk of heart attack reduced by 9%. And their risk of stroke fell by 14%.

Taxes are never the answer

So what does veganism have to do with the government’s proposed Sugar Tax?

Well, as you may have read in the news, a lot of government officials want to apply a Sugar Tax on unhealthy food and beverages. They believe this will push people to make healthier choices and decrease obesity related illnesses.

Of course what the mainstream media won’t tell you is that this is another example of ‘nanny state’ policies. It’s the same kind of tripe the government tries to implement time and time again. And they’ve offered little proof that a Sugar Tax will actually change or improve the way Aussies eat. Let alone do anything to reduce Australia’s obesity epidemic.

What it will do is increase the already arduous tax burden on working class families. Many of whom will cut down on fruits and vegetables to afford their overtaxed, sweet vices.

The Tobacco Tax, for example, shows you just how unpredictable government interventions can be. The idea was the same. Increasing taxes will make smoking more expensive, which means people will smoke less.

However, this backfired disastrously. The increase in tax has led to a 13.2% rise in illegal tobacco consumption. And it is now costing the Australian government $1.6 billion in lost taxes, according to the Herald Sun.

So, how can the government avoid another tax disaster?

By capitalising on veganism. And offering the proverbial carrot (sorry, couldn’t resist) rather than the stick approach.

Higher taxes are never the answer. And even without government incentives, there are great opportunities for businesses to capitalise on the changing attitudes towards food.

If the hospitality industry and business owners recognise the huge potential that the vegan trend offers, then more people will eat better and we’ll have fewer health related illnesses.


Sara Djukanovic


Markets and Money offers an independent and critical perspective on the Australian and global investment markets. Slightly offbeat and far from institutional, Markets and Money delivers you straight-forward, humorous, and useful investment insights from a world wide network of analysts, contrarians, and successful investors.

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