McDonald’s has been making news lately for their efforts to increase sustainable options, but now the fast food giant is moving to make more compassionate choices too by teaming up with Yours Truly and the Poisson d’Avril Animal Sanctuary in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for the first of its kind, “Happy Meals For Happy Cows” Campaign.

He looks pretty stoked about this awesome McNews!

One Green Planet and McDonald's to Partner on "Happy Meals For Happy Cows" Campaign.ABC News/Peta Kids

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“This is incredibly exciting for us as an organization because it encompasses three things: sustainability, animal welfare and progress,” One Green Planet co-founder and Editor-in-Chief Nil Zacharias said in a statement about the collaboration. “When it comes to climate change, I’ve often said that the real war is being fought on our plates, multiple times a day with every food choice we make. For us, that choice is McDonald’s.”

For every 18 Happy Meals sold (seeing as it take roughly 1,800 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef, that’s about one Happy Meal for every 100 gallons of water), McDonald’s will send a happy cow to the sanctuary! Participants will receive a punch card to track their purchases, and after the 18th punch, they’ll receive an adoption certificate with the name of the lucky cow who didn’t make it into one of the dozen-and-a-half meals purchased to save him. AWW!

He also likes rainbows.

One Green Planet and McDonald's to Partner on "Happy Meals For Happy Cows" Campaign.

 

While they aren’t perfect, McDonald’s is trying to be more transparent and we applaud efforts made toward environmental consciousness and animal welfare, no matter how small and even in spite of the bigger picture. This made McDonald’s the perfect corporation for us to partner with, considering that we work closely with several non-profit sanctuaries and are focused on helping people make more sustainable food choices. What bigger name is there to spread that message than Mickey D’s?

McDonald’s International Vegan Outreach Division (IVOD) President, Falsk Navn is equally excited: “When people see the golden arches, we want them to think of happy animals and a cleaner world. Thanks to One Green Planet, now they will.”

“We just really wanted to help the planet and save some cows and, well, there’s no denying that McDonald’s has cows.” Nicht Ernst, Animal Outreach and Sanctuary Coordinator for One Green Planet, commented. “It may take patronizing a fast food establishment repeatedly, but saving one cow halts the production of 1,000 quarter-pound hamburgers. If you do the math, that’s over seven million gallons of water saved per cow if it takes 1,799 gallons of water just to produce one pound of beef!”

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Take part and this cow won’t be contributing to this!

One Green Planet and McDonald's to Partner on "Happy Meals For Happy Cows" Campaign.Treehugger

That’s a whole lot of water for a relatively small amount of food, but water isn’t all that will be saved with each cow that doesn’t go through the process of becoming a meal. It’s no secret that beef production contributes a substantial amount of emissions into the environment, including carbon dioxide and methane emissions. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that livestock production is responsible for 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, while other organizations like the Worldwatch Institute have estimated it could be as much as 51 percent! Each pound of beef produced is responsible for 30 pounds of carbon dioxide, so if we save 4,000 pounds of beef in the form of Bessy, we’ve just prevented 120,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from heating up the globe.

It just looks smoggy in this pic, doesn’t it?

One Green Planet and McDonald's to Partner on "Happy Meals For Happy Cows" Campaign.Occupy

But, wait! There’s more! Saving one cow roughly equates to saving eight acres of land. You see, the demand for beef is such that we need more and more space for agriculture. Deforestation of the Amazon is happening at alarming rates to make room for the overabundance of cows that are needed to produce beef as well as the crops needed to grow their feed. This not only kinda stinks for the Amazon, and all the animals that lived there first, but for us too because of the whole air cleaning thing that the Amazon won’t be able to do once it’s gone. A cow in a sanctuary is just one more that isn’t in the Amazon, right!

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Do they seem out of place there? This program could take one or two of these guys out of the picture by lunch!

One Green Planet and McDonald's to Partner on "Happy Meals For Happy Cows" Campaign.Greenpeace

It also goes without saying that we’re keeping an animal out of the cruel factory farming system too. True, it’s only one in 18, but it’s a start and you can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs (and then saving one of those eggs at random). The success of this program will only pave the way for future endeavors, with campaigns like “We Give A Cluck” with Chick-Fil-A that will sponsor a chicken every time someone buys a fruit cup and “Helping Animals Live Más” which will contribute one cent per every Beefy Gordita sold at Taco Bell to combat poaching.

Gotcha!

One Green Planet and McDonald's to Partner on "Happy Meals For Happy Cows" Campaign.Dogster

But, ultimately, the most exciting part of this entire program is that it’s completely made up and we’re not even remotely serious. Yes, you guys, this in an April Fools Joke. Could you tell? What tipped you off, the fact that the sanctuary’s name is April Fools in French or the fact that we would never do something this ridonkulous? (Please say it’s the latter. We hope you know what we’re all about by now!)

In all seriousness, this story is totally bogus, but the facts are true no matter how much we wish they were part of the prank. It takes an exorbitant amount of water and land to produce even one pound of beef for human consumption, not to mention the environmental impact of the carbon emissions that production creates. The fact is, we know that we can help make a difference for animals and the planet without having to contribute to the problem (or their suffering, for that matter) in any way, and that’s by having happy meals. Nope, not that kind! We’re talking about a meal that requires no suffering and contributes the lowest environmental impact possible. With that as the definition, a truly happy meal is plant-based!

He’s lovin’ it

One Green Planet and McDonald's to Partner on "Happy Meals For Happy Cows" Campaign.

 

Need ideas and inspiration to have some of your own? Take a look at these mouthwatering choices! Think of it as our way of atoning for the little April Fools joke we played. Here, have a happy meal on us and click here if you’d like to check out further details about the facts and figures we threw around in this story or here for REAL adopt-an-animal programs put on by places like Farm Sanctuary.

The Ultimate Vegan Burger

One Green Planet and McDonald's to Partner on "Happy Meals For Happy Cows" Campaign.

Crispy Tofu Nuggets

One Green Planet and McDonald's to Partner on "Happy Meals For Happy Cows" Campaign.

Dill Pickle French Fries [Vegan, GF]

One Green Planet and McDonald's to Partner on "Happy Meals For Happy Cows" Campaign.

Breakfast Andouille Sausage With Biscuits [Vegan]

One Green Planet and McDonald's to Partner on "Happy Meals For Happy Cows" Campaign.

Bad Ass Vegan Fish Sandwich

One Green Planet and McDonald's to Partner on "Happy Meals For Happy Cows" Campaign.

Grilled Vegan Apple Pie with Vanilla-Coconut Whipped Cream

One Green Planet and McDonald's to Partner on "Happy Meals For Happy Cows" Campaign.

Want more delicious meal ideas? With over five thousand recipes in our Recipe Monster archive, you’ll never have to worry about what’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner again!

Lead Image Credit: ABC News/Peta Kids