Methane-free beef

Country/area: Hungary

Organisation: Szabad Európa (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 13/12/2021

Credit: Dóra Németh, Noémi Jakab-Aponyi


Dóra Németh is a graphic designer who fell in love in data visualization and information design three years ago and hasn’t stopped being obsessed about it since. In the past ten years, she has illustrated books, learning materials, packaging, designed interactives, company branding, characters and UI. She is working at Szabad Európa, the Hungarian Service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, as a data visual journalist since 2020.  She is based in Budapest. 

Noémi Jakab-Aponyi has worked as a reporter and a radio host before joining Szabad Európa, the Hungarian Service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in 2021 as a social media editor. She has written articles, produced podcasts and videos dealing mainly with social issues, women and children’s rights or domestic abuse in Hungary. She is based in Budapest. 

Project description:

This project took on the issue of farming and climate change, a contentious topic in Hungary, where agricultural subsidies are significant. 

The project presented facts about methane emission, and showcased various solutions that have been developed to tackle the problem. Some of them, like potty-training a cow, were of course silly, but they are introduced to make the complex subject accessible. 

With the latest research and thoughtfully designed visuals, we were able to show the potential fallacies of current policies that aim at reducing emissions without reducing meat production and to offer alternatives. 

Impact reached:

The project was created with two main goals: revealing some misconceptions around farming and sustainability and thus encouraging critical thinking. With visuals and animations designed to present datasets and information in a humorous yet provoking way, we were able to reach this aim from a journalistic standpoint.  
The story reached nearly 26,000 people. On the week it was posted, it was among the top ten articles in terms of comments from readers. One of the visuals posted separately the following day elicited even more interaction reaching almost 70,000 people, and triggering an active debate. These types of visual stories generally speaking – not to mention environmental issues specifically – are rare and unique in the Hungarian media landscape.

Techniques/technologies used:

The illustrations were hand drawn and animated in Procreate, Photoshop and After Effects, we used Datawrapper for the charts. We used HTML and CSS to combine the two. 

What was the hardest part of this project?

The hardest part was finding the right illustration style for this project – to create a thought-provoking yet eye-catching story that is accessible. 

It was also challenging to gather the research on the reduction of livestock emission and show it in an accessible way without overwhelming the audience. 

What can others learn from this project?

What matters is getting people to think about the reporting and debate its findings.  Don’t take yourself too seriously.

Project links: