A popular food and recipe website has announced it will no longer be posting or promoting beef-focused recipes.
Epicurious.com said in an article Monday that the decision to step away from the red meat was made as a way to push more sustainable ways to cook.
“Cutting out just a single ingredient — beef — can have an outsize impact on making a person’s cooking more environmentally friendly,” said the company. “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, referencing a 2013 United Nations report on the livestock industry’s impact on climate change, said that 15 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions globally come from livestock and 61 per cent of those emissions can be traced back to beef and its production.
The food website won’t be deleting any old recipes, but said Epicurious will no longer publish new beef recipes, share old ones, or promote beef on its social media or websites.
Edmonton-area beef producer Jeff Nonay said the industry has seen campaigns like this before. He believes it doesn’t tell the entire story.
“They make some of the common mistakes as far as overstating just how much one sector can possibly be responsible for greenhouse gas emissions,” Nonay said.
The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association says grazing beef herds actually act as a carbon sink, and in Canada, only account for two per cent of national emissions. The president of the Canadian Cattleman’s Association said the industry is still striving to shrink its impact.
“We want Canadians to know that we share their concerns around climate change and the need for a resilient food supply,” Bob Lowe said.
“We looked at the science, saw where we were short and we’re doing our best to correct it.”
University of Alberta professor Sven Anders said these topics leave the industry open to critical campaigns.
“The first shocking message is something that sticks with the audience much more than the subsequent attempts to explain and justify,” Anders said.
Canada produces about 1.3 million tonnes of beef annually.
The majority of Canadian beef is farmed in Alberta; about 41 per cent of nationally-produced beef comes from Alberta cows.
According to the Calgary-based Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, the industry has been making moves to find more sustainable ways to produce.
A 10-year goal plan that was released on April 21 says the industry is aiming to recue its greenhouse gas emission intensity by 33 per cent by 2030 and reduce food loss and waste by 50 per cent.
While the official announcement from Epicurious came Monday, the company said its step away from beef began in fall 2019.
“The conversation about sustainable cooking clearly needs to be louder; this policy is our contribution to that conversation,” the company said.
Epicurious is owned by the media company Condé Nast, which also owns Bon Appétit, Vogue, GQ, Vanity Fair, and The New Yorker.
With files from Tom Vernon, Global News.