A study done by Helmi Risku-Norja and Sirpa Kurppa of MTT Agrifood Research Finland found that if everyone switched to being vegan , only eating fruits and vegetables, then the reduction of greenhouse gases would only be 7%. So assuming this is true, anyone who is purely vegan for environmental reasons may be making a mistake. More so is that in a game of dominant strategy, if you wanted to maximize your benefit of saving the planet vs. eating meat, you would need everyone to switch to vegan in order to get the small benefit. But you can’t rely on everyone to do that. Since meat is so tasty, the benefit of eating meat certainly outweighs the decision to go vegan. Unless of course you went vegan for other reasons, such as health (arguable) or ethics.
Of course this game assumes the conclusions are true. I am of course skeptical of this study, and since I can’t read it, I really can’t say for sure. But, the article helps illustrate their point: (emphasis mine)
The team explains that for current average food consumption, in Finland, emissions from soil represent 62% of the total emissions. Greenhouses gases released by cows and sheep account for 24%, and energy consumption and fertiliser manufacture about 8% each. The greenhouse emissions performance for extensive organic production is poor, they explain, despite this approach to farming being considered the “green” option, the lower efficiency requires the cultivation of greater areas of soil, which counteracts many of the benefits.
That’s an interesting argument. Non-organic farming does produce more yield per acre. However, here is my issue. 1. This is in Finland, drastically different than elsewhere, especially the United States. I can speculate on their food consumption habits being less turf and more surf. 2. What “greenhouse gases” were they measuring? What raised my eyebrow was that meat emissions were only 24% and the article only listed cows and sheep. Isn’t methane worse? Is methane generated from the extra amount of land needed for organic farming? Either the Finnish (is that right?) don’t eat enough cows and sheep compared to the United States, or I have underestimated the amount of greenhouse gases created from an acreage of farmland. Statistics are not easily available to compare, making these conclusions immediately suspect.
HT: Free Market Mojo