Cheeseburger with Egg

Will Eggs Replace the Endangered Cheeseburger?

Eggs are coming on strong, but your beloved cheeseburger is under siege. Certain political pundits say that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is going to take away your cheeseburger. However, the truth is that the real threat to that cheeseburger comes from market forces.

The Endangered Cheeseburger

Consumers simply don’t want as much red meat these days. More and more consumers like to think of themselves as flexitarians, vegetarians, or vegans. They might view red meat as a less healthy choice. Or they might have concerns about environmental impact. For many consumers, it’s both.

Regardless of how they rationalize it, the result is the same. People are eating less red meat. That means that demand for the classic hamburger at McDonald’s is rather flat while Chick-fil-A is seeing robust sales growth.

But at the Conservative Political Action Committee Conference Thursday, Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC) had a different explanation:

With this Green New Deal, they are trying to get rid of all the cows. But I’ve got good news, Chick-fil-A stock will go way up because we’re going to be eating more chicken.

Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) put it in starker terms recently:

American favorites like cheeseburgers and milkshakes would become a thing of the past. Millions of American workers will lose their jobs.

That’s right. You don’t have to blame free market forces for the decline of hamburgers. If you like, you can blame the tree huggers.

The Soaring Egg

Meanwhile, eggs are soaring. After hitting rock bottom in 1992, demand for eggs is bounding back. Average egg consumption has risen to 279 per person per year. That’s a level we haven’t seen for five decades. Similar trends are playing out in the U.K.

It helps that 2015 dietary guidelines lifted the lid on dietary cholesterol. Eggs have a lot of that. But the fad status of low carb and keto diets helps, too. And did we mention that they’re loaded with protein? All that adds up to a good-for-you image that’s growing.

However it’s worth noting that the environmental story for eggs is mixed at best. Sujatha Bergen of the Natural Resources Defense Council explains:

From a climate perspective eggs are better to eat than beef, but are worse than legumes and other plant sources of proteins.

Will eggs vanquish the iconic American cheeseburger? Probably not. But it seems likely that burgers are destined to become a more occasional treat, rather than a dietary staple.

Click here for more on the ascent of the humble egg and here for more on the slowdown of the burger business. For the backstory on how burgers became a talking point for opposing the Green New Deal, click here.

Cheeseburger with Egg, photograph © Jason Thien / flickr

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March 2, 2019

2 Responses to “Will Eggs Replace the Endangered Cheeseburger?”

  1. March 02, 2019 at 1:58 pm, Chester Draws said:

    Um, no.

    You are confusing the trend of the average with the average person.

    Lots of people are no longer eating red meat. That brings the average consumption down.

    But the sort of person who likes lots of meat continues to like lots of meat. They will continue to buy, and enjoy, cheeseburgers.

  2. March 02, 2019 at 4:25 pm, Susan Burke March said:

    Isn’t it disgusting how these two Republican legislators are politicizing food and doing their best to silo voters into an “all or nothing” proposition when it comes to beef? Here’s an informative column by a climatologist who details some proposed actions that need to be taken to slow the warming of the planet.