Epicurious sparks backlash after announcing it will no longer publish recipes with beef

Chelsea Ritschel
·4-min read
 (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Online food website Epicurious is facing backlash from readers and chefs after announcing it will no longer be publishing any content that includes beef in an effort to combat climate change.

The publication announced the change, which it has been incorporating slowly since 2019, in an article byDavid Tamarkin, the former digital director, and Maggie Hoffman, a senior editor, titled: “The Planet on the Plate: Why Epicurious Left Beef Behind”.

In the article, the outlet states that it has “cut out beef,” with Epicurious going on to explain that the decision was made in an effort to promote more sustainable cooking, as the publication notes that “almost 15 per cent ofgreenhouse gas emissions globally come from livestock (and everything involved in raising it)” and that “61 per cent of those emissions can be traced back to beef”.

According to Epicurious, the decision means that readers will no longer see beef appear in new recipes, articles or newsletters, nor will the ingredient show up on the publication’s homepage or 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!),” the article reads. “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.”

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Epicurious also announced the ban on beef-related recipes on Instagram, where the publication informed its more than 777,000 followers that its mission will “always be the same: to inspire home cooks to be better, smarter, and happier in the kitchen”.

While some people applauded the publication for the decision, others were outspoken in their criticism, with many accusing the brand of overlooking farmers dedicated to sustainability.

“Nope. I’m out. There are plenty of local farmers raising cattle as sustainably as they can and this shoves them to the curb. And sponsored posts/ads/recipes from meat alternatives don’t help your case, either,” one person tweeted.

Another said: “You could have used your enormous platform to raise awareness about regenerative agriculture, to lift up small farms/farmers, to promote businesses that sell humanely raised, sustainable meat. This is so disappointing.”

Among those criticising the statement was Chef Angie Mar, who called the decision “short-sighted,” according to Insider.

“This is one of the most short-sighted, idiotic things I’ve ever seen,” the chef and owner of the Beatrice Inn wrote on Instagram. “Not using your platform to educate people on sustainable farming versus industrial farming, the impact that we have on small, local, farming communities and the CHEFS that support them and the ecosystem that those small farms are a part of… the disservice to consumers who are looking to you for guidance - this isn’t even proper journalism.”

Numerous others commented to share their decision to unfollow the publication’s social media accounts, with many adding that they were “very disappointed”.

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While Epicurious will no longer feature beef, the publication also noted that “when it comes tothe planet, eschewing beef is not a silver bullet” as there are problems with “almost” all choices.

“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,” Tamarkin and Hoffman wrote, adding that individual choices to eat ingredients other than beef can feel “so small they’re essentially pointless”.

However, according to the pair, who acknowledged that legislation, “ international cooperation, and buy-in from the corporate sector” are necessary to combating climate change, even these small steps can make a difference.

“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,” they wrote.

And despite the backlash over the decision, Hoffman and Tamarkin claimed in the article that readers have “rallied around the recipes we published in beef’s place” since 2019.

While Epicurious will not be publishing new beef recipes, existing ones will remain on the site, the writers said, but will not appear on the homepage.

The controversial choice comes after Fox Business host Larry Kudlow sparked concern among viewers after he falsely claimed that President Biden’s climate plan would include giving up meat and require Americans to drink “plant-based beer”.

The Independent has contacted Epicurious for comment.

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