Curious about Epicurious

Let’s take a closer look at the self-congratulatory statement by the gourmet recipe website Epicurious, “ The Planet on the Plate: Why Epicurious Left Beef Behind | Epicurious “ regarding banning beef from their website.

But first, some level setting:

  • Epicurious still hosts thousands of beef recipes on their website. That’s right, they may be banning beef now but REST assured there are still over 2K recipes or articles that feature or mention beef on their website
  • This isn’t about a vegan/vegetarian or “plant-based” agenda. They will still continue to SLICE pork, GRATE cheese, POUR milk and cream, ROAST chicken and turkey, and POACH fish, etc .
  • They’re not against working with plant-based brands owned by companies that also sell beef. In their statement Epicurious specifically calls out the meat alternative brand Lightlife as one of their sponsors… oddly they don’t mention that Lightlife is owned by a large($4B/24K employees) Canadian company, Maple Leaf Foods, that also owns….wait for it…MEAT COMPANIES Our Brands — Maple Leaf Foods

Now let’s take a look at the rather sanctimonious, ‘We’re doing this for the good of the environment’ claim implying that ditching beef, and only beef recipes, is somehow going to save the environment.

Greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases) are gases that trap heat in the atmosphere. In the U.S., agriculture accounts for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions. Cows and other ruminants contribute to 4% of that 10% in the U.S. and beef cattle specifically contribute 2%. Cows primarily “burp” methane, a short-lived greenhouse gas, as part of enteric fermentation as they digest their food. While addressing all greenhouses gases is important, when it comes to how they affect the climate, what’s the biggest culprit in the U.S when it comes to the amount of greenhouse gases? It’s carbon dioxide at 80-82%— not methane at 9%. Methane will stay in the atmosphere for 10–12 years while carbon dioxide will remain in the atmosphere for hundreds or thousands of years.

Where does carbon dioxide come from? Primarily from fossil fuels like cars and factories.

So I’m curious about Epicurious…why would they take this stance about beef? Here’s what I think, it’s about marketing, virtue signaling, attempting to grandstand and trying to find a niche to separate themselves from a crowded field of other food and recipe websites…so now they can proclaim, Epicurious: ‘we’re not vegan/vegetarian/plant-based’ …we just don’t do beef’.

As Dr. Frank Mitloehner of UC Davis often says, “We can’t eat our way out of climate change.” But maybe we can do some other things…. elect people who have goals to reduce greenhouse gases and specifically carbon dioxide emissions, we could drive and fly less, buy more fuel efficient vehicles or electric cars, waste less food so it doesn’t end up in a landfill…and while we’re at it, let’s give some credit to the farmers and ranchers across the U.S. who are trying to raise their animals in an environmentally sustainable way and at the same time give us a quality and nutritious product.

In the meantime, where’s the BEEF? Don’t worry, you can find plenty of beef recipes on virtually every other website and food-focused magazine not to mention Beef: It’s What’s for Dinner

Dietitian, agvocate, science communicator

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store