April 28, 2021
Earlier this week, Epicurious — a popular recipe-hosting website with millions of followers — dumped beef in the most “it’s not you, it’s me” kind of way.
In an article titled, “The Planet on the Plate: Why Epicruious Left Beef Behind,” David Tamarkin and Maggie Hoffman for Epicurious write, “Today Epicurious announces that we’ve done just that: We’ve cut out beef. 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.
“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.”
I’ve waited a few days to comment on this because my rule of thumb these days is to let an issue “sit” for 24 hours to give me time to reflect, understand and respond in a way that is effective and meaningful.
Because let’s face it, at first glance when I read this, I felt anger. The misconceptions spewed in this article mirrors the same “cow farts” rhetoric we have heard since the United Nations released its report in 2006 blaming the lion’s share of greenhouse gas emissions on beef cattle production.
I could tear apart the article, or I could focus on the exciting truth — that beef is great for human health, and cattle are great for planetary health! It’s truth a win-win! The truth is on beef’s side, and we have the science to prove it!
Consider this graphic from the CLEAR Center with information derived from the EPA, which shows a breakdown of the U.S. greenhouse gas emissions over the last 30 years. Note that beef’s direct emissions are the tiny sliver in yellow, while the orange/red color depicts all other U.S. greenhouse gases.
Another chart from the EPA reveals greenhouse gas production in the United States by economic and industry sectors. Again, agriculture is a small portion of the total, while the majority comes from commercial/residential, electricity generation and transportation.
What’s more, beef only contributes 3.3% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the United States today. Compared to 1977, today’s beef farmers and ranchers produce the same amount of beef with 33% fewer cattle.
And if every American were to go vegan today, it would lower greenhouse gas emissions by 2.6%, yet it would result in insufficient nutrients to feed the U.S. population, as well as increasing the use of synthetic fertilizer and requiring additional resources to produce the synthetic replacements for the 100+ life-enriching by-products.
However, despite the science and the truth on our side, it is difficult to convey these messages to the public, especially at a time when the beef industry appears to be under attack. Whether it’s the World Economic Forum calling to “build back better” with cricket protein or Bill Gates suggesting that rich nations change their eating habits to consume alternative meat substitutes or the wide range of ballot initiatives coming down the pike that aim to strip ranches off the land and beef on the dinner table, we have every right to be on edge, concerned and upset about the rhetoric that is being put out for the general public to consume.
But there’s a simple anecdote: We have the BEEF!
It’s delicious, nutritious and truly a beloved product enjoyed by consumers here and around the world. And according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, global meat consumption will rise by more than 1% this year!
So, what’s the best way to counter the anti-meat rhetoric being spewed by companies, politicians, publications and celebrities? We can delightfully continue to share our product and how we like to prepare it!
My challenge to you as May Beef Month approaches is to counter negativity with some positive photos, videos and stories of the beef you raise and how your family enjoys it!
Share your best recipes, grilling tips, beef cut selections and more on social media, and be sure to tag me when you do, so I can share them on my channels, as well!
Together, we will change hearts and minds about beef cattle ranchers — with sound science and sizzling steak and burgers that people will love!
Oh, and Epicurious, you’re always welcome to swing by my ranch for a pasture tour and a steak! We would be delighted to show you how we care for our animals and our land on this multi-generational family-owned ranch that we call home!
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.
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