Epicurious magazine created a stir yesterday on social media when it tweeted out that the publication is “cutting out beef”. The digital publication popular with foodies will no longer include beef in its recipes, articles, newspapers, or on social media, according to the tweet.
Today we announced that Epicurious is cutting out beef. It won’t appear in new Epi recipes, articles, newsletters, or on social. This isn’t a vendetta against cows or people who eat them. It’s a shift about sustainability; not anti-beef but pro-planet. https://t.co/yQ8PrtChtE
— epicurious (@epicurious) April 26, 2021
The timing of the announcement on social media was suspect, given that the Daily Mail published a story about the Biden administration’s draconian approach to climate change recently. The article’s lengthy title read, “How Biden’s climate plan could limit you to eat just one burger a MONTH, cost $3.5K a year per person in taxes, force you to spend $55K on an electric car and ‘crush’ American jobs.” There are plenty of things to criticize the climate extremists in Joe Biden’s administration about, but mandatory limits on beef consumption aren’t one of them. At least, not yet, anyway.
Not surprisingly, meat-eaters noticed and had thoughts about the declaration. Why would Epicurious weigh in with a no-beef pledge if not to seek praise for abiding by the left’s anti-cow agenda? Though the publication denies such intent, the tweet was a little too on-the-nose to be coincidental. Epicurious claims it is a non-judgemental decision and, as a matter of fact, it hasn’t published beef recipes for over a year. Their readers are flocking to non-beef recipes instead. That’s an interesting tidbit but doesn’t that just feed the assumption that the tweet was an attempt to be aligned with Biden’s climate change agenda? See, we agree that beef production is bad for Mother Earth.
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.
Of course, when it comes to the planet, eschewing beef is not a silver bullet. All ruminant animals (like sheep and goats) have significant environmental costs, and there are problems with chicken, seafood, soy, and almost every other ingredient. In a food system so broken, almost no choice is perfect.
And yet 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. For every burger recipe we didn’t publish, we put a vegetarian recipe into the world instead; rather than articles about ground beef, we talked about alt-meats from brands like Lightlife, a sponsor of this collection of recipes. And last summer, when America’s annual grilling holiday rolled around, we set our fires on cauliflower and mushrooms, not steaks and hot dogs.
The traffic and engagement numbers on these stories don’t lie: When given an alternative to beef, American cooks get hungry.
Why didn’t Epicurious make it known that “pulling the plug on beef” was a conscientious effort over a year ago when Biden was not in the office? It turns out that while people enjoy plant-based recipes, the majority of Americans still eat meat. Beef consumption is on its way back up after years of trending downward. Epicurious wants to play a role in addressing climate change now and send a signal to lawmakers. And they want home cooks to do the same.
Why announce our decision now? While beef consumption in the U.S. is significantly down from where it was 30 years ago, it has been slowly creeping up in the past few years. The conversation about sustainable cooking clearly needs to be louder; this policy is our contribution to that conversation.
Addressing climate change requires legislation, international cooperation, and buy-in from the corporate sector. Individual actions like choosing alt-meat—or mushrooms, or chickpeas—instead of the real thing can feel so small they’re essentially pointless. But every time you abstain from beef at the grocery store or a restaurant, you send a signal—to the grocery store, yes, but also, and perhaps more influentially, to whomever you talk to about your decision. Our announcement today is simply us loudly (and proudly!) letting you, the home cook, know about a step we’re taking. (Admittedly, we’re also hoping the rest of American food media joins us too.)
Will the elimination of beef recipes in one publication bring the cattle industry to its knees (hooves)? No. Your burgers and steaks are safe. Joe Biden doesn’t even intend to take them away from meat-eaters. He eats them himself, as did every other president in my lifetime. Barack Obama was known for his fondness of Five Guys burgers and Donald Trump loves a Big Mac. Methane gas is a problem, though. Team Biden is aggressively pursuing ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by half by 2030. Reducing methane gas from livestock has been discussed for several decades and been the subject of several studies. Consumers have been asked to “eat greener” as a result. In other words, this sort of discussion has been around for a while. Joe Biden has no new ideas for climate change.
Though some Republicans pounced, so to speak, on the Daily Mail’s headline, it was quickly debunked by leftist media outlets. Fox News said on Monday it misused a graphic and had errors in its script in covering the story last weekend.
The original article was debunked by a fact checker, CNN’s Daniel Dale. And it was addressed in a Media Matters commentary about how the lie — symbolically leveraged as anti-American, replete with the emotional tug of Fourth of July grilling imagery — has had several lives on social media and elsewhere. Politifact has had to dissect the claim before. And as MarketWatch reported in 2019: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, like Stalin, is coming for your burgers, former Trump aide warns.
Whatever the real reason for the timing of Epicurious’s tweet, it clearly is to be on the record as a supporter of a more strident climate change agenda. It’s virtue-signaling by the woke. Americans who have grown weary of companies telling us how virtuous they are will act accordingly.