What goes into your burger?

Ashley Davidson


Well, a whole lot more than you might think. 



According to an article on NPR (and myriad others), not only is meat consumption at an all-time high, we’re the second most meat-heavy nation in the world at roughly 270 lbs of meat consumed per person, per year. From the chart above, it’s not hard to see why this is a potential problem. 

Aside from the absurd amount of resources used, many commercial farms engage in undesirable environmental practices, using synthetic chemicals and hormones to keep crowded pens and stalls from becoming disease breeding hotboxes. And then, there’s the emissions:

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, “All told, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with livestock supply chains add up to 7.1 gigatonnes (GT) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-eq) per year – or 14.5 percent of all human-caused GHG releases.”

Imagine the effect of America cutting it’s meat consumption in half. It sounds drastic, but it would still be over ten times the amount of most developing countries, and double or triple many European countries. This is perhaps one of the easiest and most individually doable actions we can take — by consider meat an occasional treat, instead of a daily staple, you can make a serious impact on the environment. 



  1. I Eat Therefore I Cook

    That is why meatless monday is so great. If everyone left out the meat once a week, we would reduce consumption by quite a bit.

  2. katielowell

    I completely agree with the ideas you’ve presented here. In fact, I was a vegetarian for over six years. But then something got to me. I don’t know what it was… advertising, peer pressure, boredom? Long story short, I ditched the whole vegetarian thing and now you can find me scarfing down a tasty hamburger or salami sandwich.

    The point I’m trying to make with this example is one that I’ve been asking a lot on this blog. How are we, as American society, supposed to abandon an industry when we are never told of that industry’s negative externalities and instead sold the idea of immediate happiness through the purchase of think unknowingly harmful product? I believe that as the meat industry grows, as you have explained that it will, we will just see more advertising for meat related products. In fact, this type of advertising has been so successful that some people (sorry middle America, I’m stereotyping here and looking at you) come to see meat eating as integral to their identity. Suggest the idea of vegetarianism to these types and they will take it as a personal attack. This association of product to identity extends beyond the food industry and is one of the main reasons why I believe that democratic consumerism and neoliberal ideologies of individual consumption persist in our society.

  3. shin1505

    Woo Hoo! Veggie Power! I’ve been vegetarian for years now. There comes a point when the look and smell of meat is no longer appealing…..except chicken pot stickers for me for some reason. I agree with Katie Lowell. My father is one of those people who’d eat meat morning, noon,and night if he could get away with it. I’ve pointed out the negative externalities of the meat industry, and his response is- “Well I’m paying for it, how am I really responsible for what the meat industry does? What am I supposed to do? Be a vegetarian rabbit like you? Please.”
    I think the real issue is addressing the real problem. Buying and eating meat is not necessarily the problem, It’s where that meat comes from, and what’s in the meat that is.

  4. Johnk739

    Enjoyed examining this, very good stuff, thankyou . While thou livest keep a good tongue in thy head. by William Shakespeare. eeaggccaebec

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