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An Estimate of the Number of Vegetarians in the World

Authors
Disciplines
  • Ecology
  • Education
  • Geography

Abstract

Methane is the second-most important anthropogenic greenhouse gas 1 www.esri.ie Working Paper No. 340 March 2010 An Estimate of the Number of Vegetarians in the World Eimear Leahya, Seán Lyonsa and Richard S.J. Tola,b,c Corresponding Author: [email protected] a Economic and Social Research Institute, Dublin, Ireland b Institute for Environmental Studies, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands c Department of Spatial Economics, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands ESRI working papers represent un-refereed work-in-progress by members who are solely responsible for the content and any views expressed therein. Any comments on these papers will be welcome and should be sent to the author(s) by email. Papers may be downloaded for personal use only. 2 An Estimate of the Number of Vegetarians in the World Methane is the second-most important anthropogenic greenhouse gas. Ruminant livestock are a major source of emissions. The expansion of pasture is one of the main drivers of deforestation, one of the larger sources of carbon dioxide emissions. An understanding of dietary choice is needed for scenario building and for assessing policy options. This paper focuses on those who eat no meat whatsoever. We estimate that there are one and half billion vegetarians. Only 75 million are vegetarians of choice, a number that will gradually grow with increasing affluence and education. The other 1,450 million are vegetarians of necessity. They will start to eat meat as soon as they can afford it. The importance of diet and particularly the amount of red meat in diet, for global environmental change has long been acknowledged (1). Pasture land has expanded by 10% between 1961 and 2005 (2). Meat consumption has increased by 250% between 1960 and 2002 (2). The world population has doubled in that time (2), so that average meat consum

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