News and Commentary

Condé Nast Cooking Publication Ends Beef Recipes ‘To Encourage More Sustainable Cooking’
Black Angus cows eat hay at a farm in Pleasureville, Kentucky, U.S., on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. Congress had authorized additional borrowing authority for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in coronavirus-relief legislation passed earlier this year, and the second round has been widely anticipated. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg
Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Condé Nast cooking brand “Epicurious” announced that it will no longer publish recipes that include beef on its website.

“In an effort to encourage more sustainable cooking, we won’t be publishing new beef recipes on Epicurious,” the company confirmed in a piece published on its website. 

“We’ve cut out beef,” it continued. “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.”

The publication wrote, “Almost 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions globally come from livestock (and everything involved in raising it); 61 percent of those emissions can be traced back to beef. Cows are 20 times less efficient to raise than beans and roughly three times less efficient than poultry and pork.”

Noting that some people might assume that the move “signals some sort of vendetta against cows—or the people who eat them,” the company stressed, “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 company noted that it “pulled the plug on beef well over a year ago” and readers have supported the recipes that were published instead of ones including beef, adding that the company released recipes for “cauliflower and mushrooms, not steaks and hot dogs” last summer.

As reported by BBC, not all vegan foods are inherently good for the environment and many can still have a negative impact. Joseph Poore, a researcher at the University of Oxford studies the environmental impacts of food. Poore said, “… it’s essential to be mindful about everything we consume: air-transported fruit and veg can create more greenhouse gas emissions per kilogram than poultry meat, for example.”

Epicurious said that it chose to announce its decision now because beef consumption in the United States has “been slowly creeping up in the past few years,” adding that the “conversation about sustainable cooking clearly needs to be louder.”

Pushing readers to essentially make choices based off of the ability to virtue-signal, the article continued, “… 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.”

In another article on the topic, the publication addressed the anticipated question as to whether or not individual action matters as much as government policy. 

“Individual action is really just the first step toward collective action,” climate journalist Amy Westervelt said. “Maybe you push your entire family to eat less meat, or it could be getting involved on the policy side and looking at how your kid’s school system purchases food …”

“The problem with beef is actually more systemic than it is individual,” climate journalist and cohost of the Hot Take podcast Mary Annaïse Heglar said. “However, it is one of the places where your individual action can have extreme influence on the system itself. It’s one of the most impactful choices you can make.”

“Some of you will wonder if Epicurious has become a site with an agenda,” the explanatory article offered, noting that the beef recipes that were published in 2019 and beforehand will remain on the website. 

“The only change is that we now believe that part of getting better means cooking with the planet in mind,” the article concluded. “If we don’t, we’ll end up with no planet at all.”

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