This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Putting a Global Price Tag on Eating Meat

Recently I commented on the important way in which eating meat is costly in terms of environmental damage and deleterious health effects. But I didn't put a price tag on those costs. However, today I saw an article referenced in The Atlantic that does exactly that.
In a study published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Marco Springmann and his colleagues at the University of Oxford conservatively estimate that if people continue to follow current trends of meat consumption, rather than shifting to a more balanced or plant-based diet, it could cost the U.S. between $197 billion and $289 billion each year—and the global economy up to $1.6 trillion—by 2050.
Out of all the world’s countries, the U.S. would save the most by curbing its taste for meat. Due to its very high per-capita health-care costs, the country could save $180 billion if the population ate according to recommended guidelines, and $250 billion if it eschewed animal food products altogether—more than China, or all of the EU countries combined. And this is to say nothing of the number of obesity- and chronic-disease-related deaths that could be averted (at least 320,000 per year), and the accompanying benefits of reducing the level of greenhouse-gas emissions.
How much would be saved? Here is a graph of their calculations:

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