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Some Economic Benefits and Costs of Vegetarianism

  • Lusk, Jayson L.
  • Norwood, F. Bailey

It is now fashionable in many circles to advocate vegetarianism, and many activist groups are vocal in their aim to convert the human race to vegetarians. What would be the economic costs and benefits of a shift away from meat consumption? In this article we provide some partial answers to this question. In three separate analyses we show (i) that it is much more costly to produce energy and protein from animal-based sources than from some plant-based sources, (ii) that sizable demand shifts away from meat consumption would result in significantly lower corn prices and production, and (iii) that the average U.S. consumer places a higher value on having meat in his or her diet than having any other food group. This information should help move forward our understanding of the economics of vegetarianism and provide an objective stance from which to evaluate the claims being made by advocates of vegetarianism.

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File URL: http://purl.umn.edu/55529
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Article provided by Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association in its journal Agricultural and Resource Economics Review.

Volume (Year): 38 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (October)
Pages:

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Handle: RePEc:ags:arerjl:55529
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.narea.org/

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  1. Pollak, Robert A & Wales, Terrence J, 1969. "Estimation of the Linear Expenditure System," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 37(4), pages 611-28, October.
  2. Risku-Norja, Helmi & Maenpaa, Ilmo, 2007. "MFA model to assess economic and environmental consequences of food production and consumption," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(4), pages 700-711, February.
  3. Jerry A. Hausman, 1996. "Valuation of New Goods under Perfect and Imperfect Competition," NBER Chapters, in: The Economics of New Goods, pages 207-248 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Hausman, Jerry A & Leonard, Gregory K, 2002. "The Competitive Effects of a New Product Introduction: A Case Study," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(3), pages 237-63, September.
  5. Marsh, John M., 2007. "Cross-Sector Relationships Between the Corn Feed Grains and Livestock and Poultry Economies," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 32(01), April.
  6. Tirtha Dhar & Jeremy D. Foltz, 2005. "Milk by Any Other Name … Consumer Benefits from Labeled Milk," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 87(1), pages 214-228.
  7. Alston, Julian M., 1991. "Research Benefits in a Multimarket Setting: A Review," Review of Marketing and Agricultural Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 59(01), April.
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