Is a Hamburger Worth it?

Whilst eating a hamburger, the question of its sustainability is not often a common thought. However, a growing concern over where our meat is coming from is allowing greater questioning into the sources of our food.

Personally, meat has always been a key element of my diet, as we are told to believe meat to be a key source of protein. However, what is growing in popularity is that of alternative options for protein sources, with a large target market aimed at the growing choice of vegetarian and veganism. Therefore, with growing choices of meat-free alternatives, it brings into question why people are still consuming meat? Especially with an increasing concern related to the health implication of meat consumption, mainly red meats, which are extremely high in saturated fats, a leading cause of high blood cholesterol.

Have you heard of the saying “A minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips”? This can not only relate to the aforementioned health implications but also the cost our food choices are having on the environment

Cattle farming, responsible for milk and beef production, are the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions globally, with 14.5% of the overall global emissions directly caused by the livestock industry. As a result, generating more emissions than all forms of transports combined. An extensive amount of land and approximately a third of the earth’s water supply is used to grow crops in order to feed this cattle livestock. The land that is occupied to feed and grow cattle for one meat-eating diet could be used to fulfill over 10 people living on a vegan diet. 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 population continues to grow larger, 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 their minimal knowledge on the detrimental impacts meat consumption has on the environment. The water needed to create a single burger requires more water than approximately 2 months of showering every day, inferring the necessity of the combination of lowered meat consumption as well as other resources.

It is impossible to force the world to stop eating meat, but it is important for everyone to at least reduce their meat intake. Many people believe that by changing your own diet it will not make an impact, however if everyone thinks like that, changes will not be made. Meatless Mondays, an idea brought about by Americans after the First World War and adopted by many organisations around the US since 2003, have made a small but significant difference. Cutting out meat completely may not be a realistic goal but cutting down meat consumption is certainly a way in which we can all do our part in aiding the environment.

Alexandra Macmillen


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