Grilling the Planet

The beef with burgers and false solutions to the climate crisis

Jennifer Molidor, Ph.D.
Center for Biological Diversity

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Burger King claims to have found the Holy Grail of food-related climate solutions: the reduced methane emissions burger. The company claims that by introducing 100 grams of lemongrass into their beef cow’s daily diets they’ve reduced by 33% emissions tied to their burgers.

Let’s be clear. Cows are key drivers of climate change and tossing a little lemongrass into their diets won’t change that.

Burgers are a cornerstone of the sustainable food conversation among foodies and families alike. But changing what cows eat simply won’t make the difference we need to meet global emission-reduction targets. Studies show to fight climate change we need to cut 90% of our beef consumption.

Studies show we need to cut 90% of our beef consumption — Photo by Alex Azabache from Pexels

Burgers make a whopper of an impact on our planet. Livestock are responsible for at least 16% of global greenhouse gases, and beef cows make up about 41% of that impact, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Every year cows in the United States alone produce the GHG equivalent of more than 22 million cars.

Searching for ways to eat the same amount of meat — instead of reducing how much meat we eat — is missing the mark.

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Jennifer Molidor, Ph.D.
Center for Biological Diversity

Writer, teacher, advocate for wildlife, campaigner for sustainable food systems.