The Hidden Costs of Hamburgers

Rising rate of meat production worldwide threatens to mess up our climate, land, and water big time

That Americans love meat is old news. But sometimes a fresh look at the sheer volume of meat consumed can still be a bit of a shocker. Like the fact that Americans, on average, eat three hamburgers a week. That’s 156 burgers per person per year. Wowzers! Apparently, despite the growing popularity of vegetarian food (all those yummy tofu, bean and potato patties) and other meats such as pork and chicken, beef is still the reigning meat of choice in this country. But at what cost? When we buy a pound of ground beef at the supermarket, are we paying what it’s really worth?

The Center for Investigative Journalism explored this question recently and came up with some mindboggling figures that show just how terribly our meat habit is impacting our environment and natural resources. Here are some nuggets:

— livestock create about as much greenhouse gas pollution as cars, planes, and other forms of transport.

— It takes 1,800 gallons of water to produce a single pound of beef (four times the amount for chicken and 10 times the amount required for a pound of wheat).

Need a stronger case for going veg or, at the very least, observing “Meatless Mondays, after this?

Learn more in this fact-packed animated short by CIR:

Film Credits:

Carrie Ching: Director/Producer/Reporter
Sarah Terry-Cobo: Reporter/Narrator
Arthur Jones: Illustrator/Animator

You Make Our Work Possible

You Make Our Work Possible

We are standing at a pivotal moment in history, one in which education and advocacy around the climate emergency, public health, racial injustice, and economic inequity is imperative. At Earth Island Journal, we have doubled down on our commitment to uplifting stories that often go unheard, to centering the voices of frontline communities, and to always speak truth to power. We are nonprofit publication. We don’t have a paywall because our mission is to inform, educate and inspire action. Which is why we rely on readers like you for support. If you believe in the work we do, please consider making a tax-deductible year-end donation to our Green Journalism Fund.

Donate
Get the Journal in your inbox.
Sign up for our monthly newsletter.

The Latest

Avocado Farms Dry Up Water Resources in Mexico

Rich tradition of cultivating and collecting medicinal plants in Michoacán state is at risk as Indigenous community loses access to water.

Monica Pelliccia

Satellites Zoom in on Cities’ Hottest Neighborhoods

Local governments can use data to help combat the urban heat island effect.

Daniel P. Johnson

Maasai Leaders ​Arrested in Protests over​ ​Tanzanian Game Reserve

Dozens wounded in clashes with police over eviction from ancestral lands to make way for hunting and safaris.

Katie McQue and Mattha Busby The Guardian

Proposed Deal Could Slash Toxic Emissions in America’s ‘Cancer Alley’

Consent decree on two suits against the EPA by residents of one of most polluted parts of Louisiana would lead to a review of federal air pollutant standards.

Oliver Laughland The Guardian

Fears over Safety of British Journalist and Indigenous Expert Missing in Brazilian Amazon

Dom Phillips and Bruno Araújo Pereira disappeared on a trip to one of the most remote corners of the Amazon days after receiving threats.

Tom Phillips The Guardian

Reforesting Paris

How one IT specialist went about greening the City of Lights.

Hannah Lewis