“We believe beef can be a solution for climate change,” says the Low Carbon Beef website.

“Backed by rigorous life-cycle assessments and process verification, Low Carbon Beef delivers a high-quality, environmentally conscious certification so that we can all feel good about putting beef on the grill.”

In November, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved a “low carbon beef” certification for farmers who meet certain criteria—for example, they use renewable energy and follow specific “manure management practices.”

But the “low carbon” claim means that greenhouse gas emissions are only 10 percent lower than usual. Since when does “lower” mean “low”?

“Calling beef low-carbon is laughable,” says Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“In North America, greenhouse gas emissions from beef are roughly 80 times higher per serving compared to beans. And there isn’t much difference between cattle that were feedlot or grass-fed.”

“So a 10 percent reduction would make greenhouse gas emissions from beef about 72 times higher per serving than healthy plant protein sources. That’s hardly ‘low carbon.’”

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is also upping its sustainability claims.

“Beef farmers and ranchers around the country are implementing land-conserving, wildlife-protecting, award-winning environmental efforts,” says a one-minute video on the Cattlemen’s website. It’s been watched over 3.6 million times.

“We should be doing all we can to produce beef in better ways, including a full stop to feeding grain and soy to cattle,” says Willett.

“But by far the most effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from food is to eat less beef and replace it with some combination of nuts, seeds, soy, other beans, and only modest amounts of poultry, dairy, and sustainably produced seafood.”