European governments are being urged to cut 'unequal and unfair rates of taxation' of plant-based milks compared with the lower rates applied to cow's milk.
Global food awareness charity ProVeg call to 'end the tax discrimination on plant milk' coincides with the launch of its new report, which highlights the environmental cost of dairy compared to plant-based alternatives.
The report says one liter of cow's milk requires 'more than 22 times more water and roughly 12 times more land', than soy milk - and emits three times more greenhouse gas emissions. Other plant milks including oat and rice milk are similarly sustainable.
VAT on plant milk
According to ProVeg, VAT on plant-based milk is significantly higher than it is on cow's milk in six countries across Europe, including Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece, Slovakia, and Austria.
In Germany, VAT on soya milk is 19 percent, but only seven percent on cow's milk. This means a 171 percent higher VAT rate for the plant-based milk. The rate is 450 percent higher in Italy, and 150 percent higher in Spain.
'Level the playing field'
"We urge these European governments to level the playing field by taxing plant-based milk at the same rate as cow's milk – at the very least. People are literally paying a higher price for wanting to protect our planet and for being climate-conscious," Sebastian Joy, co-founder and CEO of ProVeg International, said in a statement sent to Plant Based News.
"We are in the midst of the climate crisis, yet this outdated VAT policy stifles plant-based innovation and competition. It is unfair and inequitable and in urgent need of reform if we are serious about making progress with climate change mitigation.
"Instead of indirectly subsidizing dairy products that we know to be so damaging to our planet, we ought to be helping, supporting, and encouraging more sustainable alternatives such as plant-based milk – not taxing them at such a higher rate."