‘Not anti-beef but pro-planet’: recipe website reveals it secretly took cows off the menu
The food website Epicurious will no longer feature beef in its recipes, in an effort to help drive more sustainable consumption.
The decision to cut cows from the menu was announced on Monday, but the organisation is confident readers will not miss the meat – because it actually made the change a year ago and has not published a beef recipe since.
“We’ve cut out beef,” said Maggie Hoffman, the senior editor, and David Tamarkin, the former digital director, of the site. “Beef won’t appear in new Epicurious recipes, articles, or newsletters. It will not show up on our homepage. It will be absent from our Instagram feed.
“We know that some people might assume that this decision signals some sort of vendetta against cows – or the people who eat them. But this decision was not made because we hate hamburgers (we don’t!). Instead, our shift is solely about sustainability, about not giving airtime to one of the world’s worst climate offenders. We think of this decision as not anti-beef but rather pro-planet.”
The choice will not render Epicurious a completely beef-free zone. The site still has more than 1,000 recipes for beef filling out its copious backlist, such as 2019’s “73 Sizzling Steak Dinner Recipes to Make Any Night 110% Beefier“. But it will not publish or promote new beef recipes in the future, instead focusing on vegetarian recipes and promoting “alt-meats”.
Tamarkin and Hoffman say they are confident readers of Epicurious will not abandon the site after the change, because it has already happened.
“We know that home cooks want to do better. We know because we actually pulled the plug on beef well over a year ago, and our readers have rallied around the recipes we published in beef’s place … The traffic and engagement numbers on these stories don’t lie: when given an alternative to beef, American cooks get hungry.”
The environmental impact of eating meat, beef in particular, are well-documented, with one 2018 study finding that meat and dairy provide 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions but only 18% of the calories.
But some farmers are trying to push back. Analysis from the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission charity has argued that beef could be sustainably reared in the UK – but only if production and consumption of other meat, milk and eggs fell by half. In that scenario, the charity said, the natural role of cattle in the UK’s land system would become positive, helping rather than hurting the environment around it.