Cheeseburger in Hands

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Americans eat significantly more red meat than most people on the planet (57 pounds a year per person on average versus 14 pounds globally), so there's plenty of reason to think about the impact that consumption has on the planet. One-third of planet-warming emissions can be attributed to the food system, and beef is the top offender. Now researchers have found a way to make consumers take a closer look at how their diet impacts the climate and perhaps consider skipping that burger and instead ordering chicken, fish, or vegetarian options when ordering fast food.

Gallery: Where to Find Plant-Based Fast Food

In a recent study, researchers offered participants one of three menus: a control menu with QR codes next to menu items, a menu with green labels to notify participants which items had a low climate impact (such as chicken, fish, or vegetarian choices), and a menu with red labels indicating a high climate impact next to beef items. 

The most effective at getting people to turn away from beef? The negative red labels. Those who received a menu with red labels were 23% more likely to choose less environmentally harmful menu items. In second place, those who received menus with green labels were 10% more likely to choose items that didn't have beef.

While labels suggesting eco-friendly choices aren't in most eateries (and aren't required yet), don't be surprised if you see them when you go out to grab a burger in the future.

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