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Some Economic Benefits and Costs of Vegetarianism

  • Jayson L. Lusk (a1) and F. Bailey Norwood (a1)

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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Agricultural and Resource Economics Review
  • ISSN: 1068-2805
  • EISSN: 2372-2614
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