When Food Media Goes Too Far

The Lempert Report
April 30, 2021

Epicurious.com announced that it will no longer offer recipes that contain beef.

The media, especially food media, has the obligation to share the facts about the foods we eat. What’s healthy, how our foods are produced, factory working conditions, humane treatment of animals, harmful ingredients and the like are all fair game; as long as what is report is the truth and when appropriate backed by science or research.

Epicurious.com is one of the leading recipe websites and resources. It’s powerful and owned by Conde Nast and its close sister is Bon Appetit under the same corporate family. Perhaps as a way to generate buzz or PR or more traffic Epicurious announced that it will no longer offer recipes that contain beef. Their explanation is that beef is harmful to the planet. Epicurious Senior Editor Maggie Hoffman and former Digital Director David Tamarkin offered their point of view:  "For any person—or publication—wanting to envision a more sustainable way to cook, cutting out beef is a worthwhile first step. Our shift is solely about sustainability, about not giving airtime to one of the world's worst climate offenders."

They have over stepped their responsibilities and frankly I hope we see the move offending more people; and as a result have less people visit their site. Don’t misunderstand – I am neither pro or against people eating beef. It’s a personal choice and with all the science out there - both on the impact on climate and our own bodies - we can choose whether to eat beef or not. In 2021 beef production here in the US is estimated to be over 27 billion pounds. Retail dietitians in our supermarkets have to put aside their personal feelings to advise all their shoppers as to what is right for them. An RD who may be a vegan puts that personal preference to the side when a shopper wants to ask a question about animal-based foods.

If the editors at Conde Nast don’t want to eat beef, so be it – but they should also leave that preference at the door to their office before they start their job in posting recipes. Frankly I do not know if the people who made this decision have any science based educational backgrounds that qualify them to make these statements and decisions. What is truly ironic is that they are not adding any new beef recipes, but they are also not removing those that have already been posted since their launch in 1995. That’s 26 year’s worth of beef recipes.