“Put that hamburger down and step away!”

Updated: Jun 1, 2020

Scared Cow

Should there be a law making it a crime to eat a hamburger? Read on.

Our love affair with beef is destroying the climate and our environment along with it! The stats are staggering. To make a quarter pound hamburger it takes 6.7 pounds of grain and forage, 52 gallons of fresh water, 75 acres of grazing land to grow feed crops and 1,036 BTUs of fossil fuel for production and transport. The world consumed 130 billion pounds of meat in 2016 and that number is skyrocketing. You do the math.

Then there is the amount of lethal methane generated by billions of animals worldwide which accounts for about 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissionsand the impact on land and water resources to raise them. I’m not even going to get into the heart disease and cancer problems induced by the cholesterol and saturated fat. There is only so much a person can handle in one article (and I’m not talking about me). Eventually we will have to modify of our dietary and agri-business behavior. Why not make a start now?

Now that I’ve painted this rosy picture let me re-ask the question: Should there be a law making it a crime to eat a hamburger? If cows could handle firearms, we wouldn’t need a law would we. The rural backroads would be rivers of blood and it wouldn’t be bossy’s. Before I get to my answer there are a couple of things we need to consider.

The human species has been a meat eater since prehistoric times. There is, however, debate about why we started and how much we ate. Ironically some anthropologists claim that climate change accelerated our meat-eating tendencies. As the climate warmed, grasslands replaced green plants and we were forced to find additional sources of nutrition. Along with the grasslands came grazing animals and that was that. This changing red meat diet contributed to the growth of the brain and the next thing you know we had digital watches.

Of course, at that time there were only hundreds of thousands of humans compared to thousands of millions today. In addition, the amount of meat they ate was significantly less than the amount we eat today. Must we really stop eating beef? Some think that if we stop eating meat our brains will shrink and our bodies will whither like kelp in an oven. Others claim that while protein and calorie intake is critical to our species, we can survive without meat. As a dietary concern, it shouldn’t be a deal breaker. We should be smart enough to figure out how to add other protein and calories to a diet? After all, we did figure out how to make those watches.

Legislating the intake of meat does have historical precedent. The infamous “forest laws” prohibited the commoner from killing and eating forest creatures like the deer and the rabbit although it did not stop Robin of Locksley who occasionally was known to grill up a rack of forbidden ribs from a King’s boar. Currently 20 out of 28 states in India have laws regulating the slaughter and consumption of cattle. In one state cows and calves are actually photographed and catalogued for their safety. Catholics were banned from eating meat on Fridays for centuries (and still are although none of them seem to know that) and while you were probably not burned at the stake for this discretion, you would spend the rest of your afterlife being consumed by hell fire. Then there were occasional bans on “killer meats” that actually ‘killed’ you. There are many other examples.

As for the ethical part of the equation (you know, slaughtering billions of abused animals) we can always rely on the Bible to clear things up.

Genesis 9:3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. (Nuff said - top of the food-chain!)