The War on Hamburgers: A Practical Alternative to World Veganism

Since the introduction of the newest incarnation of the Green New Deal, conservatives have been hard at work battling the non-existent boogyman supposedly trying to ban hamburgers. Now, of course, such claims are completely absurd and have no basis in the actual reality of the Deal itself, but that hasn’t stopped the idea from spreading via mainstream news sources. One politician even made a public display of eating a hamburger while claiming that if progressives have their way, such a thing would be outlawed.

So where did this hilariously bad smear campaign originate? It turns out what they are referencing is, in fact, an FAQ that was released around the same time explaining the Deal. But even that FAQ made no such decree to ban hamburgers or any other meat, rather it merely points out the fact that factory farming is one of the main contributors to climate change and suggests that we do something to address that fact. And no, we don’t need to address it by banning meat.

Much to the disappointment of many vegans, world veganism is far from likely. So if we wish to make real impactful changes then we have to come up with a more realistic set of alternatives. Obviously encouraging people to cut back on their meat consumption is a good start but real change will happen when such sacrifices no longer feel like sacrifices. Enter Burger King.

Recently Burger Kings teamed up with Impossible Foods to start selling their Impossible Burgers as part of their new Impossible Whopper. Right now it is only available at a select few test locations in St. Louis, Missouri but their history of carrying Morningstar burgers as an off-menu item shows that they are willing to carry these items even when they aren’t a huge money maker. Of course, you can already find Impossible Burgers at other restaurants but usually for around $10 for a single burger. Burger King’s target customer base, however, will not be flocking to a $10 burger which is why they are working with Impossible Foods to reduce input costs thus lowering prices across the board. If Burger King is successful in helping to make the Impossible Whopper cheap, affordable, and easily available at any drive-thru then that will offer a viable alternative for folks wishing to eat more sustainably. Impossible Burgers are notorious for being difficult to distinguish from the real thing so taste isn’t the factor holding back its spread but rather price. Lower the price and many would happily make the switch without even feeling like they sacrificed a thing. After all, you still get your dollar burger and it tastes amazing.

Of course, we haven’t found convincing alternatives for every type of meat but nor do we really have to in order to lower our environmental impact. There’s another way that, like the Impossible Whopper, offers the same level of satisfaction as traditional meat without any significant feeling of sacrifice. This alternative can be found in cultured, or lab-grown meat. Such advancements allow us to grow meat cells without the need for large scale livestock farms or the massive feeding operations that come with them. Switching towards cultured meat would allow us to drastically cut back on the need for livestock farming to meet consumer demand and not having to feed as many farm animals allows us to utilize the land we are currently using to grow food for livestock in more efficient ways.

With these two alternatives, we can dramatically lower our consumption of factory farmed meat and thus our environmental impact by continuing to meet the same demands via new methods. Making these changes feel casual and rather unnoticed instead of like huge sacrifices can mean all the difference. Sometimes solving problems just takes a bit of creativity.

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