Burger King Becomes a Leader in Cow Fart Prevention

Who knew that eating hamburgers could be so good for the environment?

On the heels of its Impossible Whopper — a burger made completely of plant-based protein and regret — Burger King is once again leading the way to make the world a better place by offering low-fart hamburgers.

Not low-fat hamburgers, low-fart hamburgers.

According to climate scientists, the livestock industry has been directly responsible for almost a quarter of the climate change since we started mass-producing food.

In the U.S. alone, nearly 9% of greenhouse gases come from all agricultural production, and 3.3% specifically comes from cows.

More specifically, cow farts and burps.

In order to help reduce the amount of methane produced by U.S. cows, Burger King has developed a low-fart hamburger.

Meanwhile, McDonald's fans learned to make a "black cow float" with their soft-serve ice cream and a Coke.

Technically, the new sandwich is called a Reduced Methane Emissions Beef Whopper, but that's a boring name, and I can't see myself ordering it that way.

Me: Yes, I'd like a Reduced Methane Emissions Beef Whopper.

Burger King employee: You mean a low-fart burger? Do you want Lowered Expectations Fries with that?

I know I keep talking about cow farts, but it turns out there's a lot more methane in cow burps than cow farts, about a 60/40 split. But for a scientific discovery this serious, we need to avoid all that burp silliness and treat this with the seriousness and gravitas it deserves.

Plus, I really like saying "cow farts."

Burger King's parent company, Restaurant Brands International is breaking new wind — ground! I mean ground! — by working with researchers from the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico.

The researchers fed three different feed additives to different groups of cattle, plus a control group that just received regular feed, and measured their burps. They found that the cattle that received 100 grams of lemongrass had 33 percent less methane in their burps. The research is currently unpublished, but you can read a summary of the project online.

And in the spirit of "we're in this together," Burger King isn't clenching up and holding their research in. They're offering to share their lemongrass formula with anyone who wants it, which could go a long way in helping reduce the extra methane produced by the cattle industry, but without adding a lot of extra cost or effort to the animals' production.

To celebrate the discovery, Burger King even created a country music video of children singing about the low-fart burger. The song is led by yodeling Walmart kid, Mason Ramsey, who emerged from a cow's butt crooning, "When cows fart and burp and splatter/well it ain’t no laughing matter."

I really hope this kid becomes famous and gets inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame one day, and they play "When cows fart and burp and splatter" as his walk-up song.

Burger King has been touting their low-fart Whopper as having 33% less methane than their regular Whopper, but that may be a bit misleading.

According to an article in Popular Science (official motto: "Like regular science, but we eat lunch at the cool table."), they have only been fed the lemongrass additive for the last 25% of their lives. The first 75% is still their normal level of methane-filled cow farts and burps. The total methane reduction, says Popular Science, is closer to 3% overall.

However, as wind-breaking as this new research is, Burger King is not the first to solve the cow fart problem. In fact, exactly 12 years and one week ago, I wrote about how New Zealand scientists had discovered the gene that causes methane in animal farts.

Their ultimate goal was to create an anti-fart vaccine to eliminate the methane altogether. The idea was cows could be injected with the vaccine and the methane would be eliminated from their farts almost completely. This worried a lot of men because they were afraid their wives might jab them with the vaccine, or at least a sharp needle, in their sleep.

At the time, other New Zealand scientists were working on a burpless grass, a grass breed that had a specific enzyme suppressed, which would help cows digest the grass more easily, which could eliminate burps.

In July 2018, New Zealand news site Stuff.co.nz reported that we were fairly close to making cows burpless. They said Dutch nutrition company, Royal DSM, had created a specific feed additive that could reduce cow burps, but we were still another decade away from the animal fart vaccine that seemed so promising just 12 short years ago.

While the world may seem to be in a lot of trouble at times, I'm always heartened by the scientists who are looking at every possibility of reducing pollution and saving our planet. Whether it's a lemongrass feed additive or burpless grass, smart people around the world are working hard to make this world better.

I just hope the fart gene researchers aren't full of hot air.

Photo credit: Henk Monster (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 3.0)

My new humor novel, Mackinac Island Nation, is finished and available on Amazon. You can get the Kindle version here or the paperback version here.