This year, the food company Epicurious decided that it would not add anymore beef recipes to its “recipe’s list”. The company stated that it will no longer feature recipes that include beef on its homepage or social media feed. Epicurious made it obvious that they were leaving beef behind for climate change, and posted that “… think of this decision as not anti-beef but rather pro-planet”. In this decision, Epicurious supports sustainable agriculture in more ways that one.
Why Has Epicurious Banned Beef Recipes?
To promote sustainable agriculture, Epicurious will not longer add beef recipes to its site. The consequences of unsustainable farming practices are most apparent in water and land use. Livestock animals eat massive amounts of vegetation so that they can meet their caloric requirements. Cows are large animals and are costly to raise to maturity. Just one dairy cow may consume tens of thousands more calories than any human does, and their calories come strictly for plants. Growing enough food for livestock limits the amount of land and water that could be used for human consumable crops. Livestock animals also need space to roam, play and interact.
Why Are Cows Bad for the Environment?
We must be tactful in how we use land, as it is not an unlimited asset. The same is true of our air. Methane is an element of natural gas found in underground reserves, produced in land-fills and released during enteric fermentation in ruminants, like cows. As mentioned in Epicurious’ blog post, “Every Question You Have About Cattle, Climate, and Why Epicurious Is Done With Beef”, the crops fed to livestock is made using pesticides and fertilizer that are derived from fossil fuels.
When that feed is metabolized in cows, it is converted into manure that is then spread over fields or runs off into water ways. In certain water systems, organic waste introduces excess nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, and facilitates algae overgrowth. Algae blooms deplete the oxygen and sunlight from surface water ecosystems, causing illness and sometimes death in other species within the environment. On land, manure releases nitrous oxide and methane into airways and drives rising temperatures. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that in 2019, 10 percent of America’s greenhouse gas emissions came from its agriculture sector.
Epicurious has expressed that not eating beef is a means to reduce one’s carbon footprint. Here at ecoTreatise, we believe pork, chicken, seafood and dairy may also be left behind if chefs are looking to further reduce their overall environmental impacts. Sustainable lifestyles require that we be mindful of the water, land and energy intensity of the products we consume.