Is a burger worth it?

As you are devouring a greasy succulent cheese burger, do you ever think of where the meat comes from? And whether it is sustainable?

As a meat-lover and a big fan of McDonalds, I have never considered my life without meat. We are often told that we need meat as part of our healthy balanced diet. However, this is not the case at all. We as humans are omnivores meaning that we have evolved to eat both meat and plants. This only means that our bodies are designed to eat meat, but we do not NEED to consume meats to receive the correct nutrients. As a matter of fact, excess meat consumption can lead to negative health effects such as obesity and high cholesterol.

Have you heard of the saying “A minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips”? Instead of thinking about the effects food consumption has on our bodies, we need to look at the bigger picture, and understand how just one burger can have such an enormous effect on the environment.

Beef and cattle milk are the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, with 14.5% of the overall global emissions directly caused by the livestock industry. As a result, generating more emissions than all transports combined [1]. An extensive amount of land and approximately a third of the earth’s water supply is used to grow crops needed to feed cattle [2]. The land that is occupied to feed and grow cattle could be used to feed a vegan over 10 times more than the average meat eater [3]. However, we are still oblivious to the consequences of eating meat as it is classed as a social norm and continue to consume them in excess.

As the earth’s population continues to grow larger and with technology at its prime, there is no doubt that meat consumption will increase sharply over the next decade. Most people aspire to live a sustainable lifestyle by using less water and taking public transport instead of driving, but many don’t consider changing their eating habits due to little knowledge on the detrimental effects meat consumption has on the environment. The water needed to create a single burger requires more water than 2 months of showering, approximately [3], therefore you should eat less meat rather than take shorter showers.

It is impossible to force the world to stop eating meat, but it is important to reduce your meat intake. Meatless Mondays, an idea brought about by the Americans after the first world war and adopted by many organisations around the States such as schools and hospitals since 2003 [5], have made a small but significant difference. Cutting out meat completely is not a realistic goal, but cutting down meat consumption is certainly a way in which we can all do our part in saving the environment.

One less burger at a time to save our planet!

Alex Macmillen


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