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Why beef is off the menu for some climate-conscious foodies

Reference: CBC News

Growing up on a farm in southern Ontario, Toronto chef Ikeila Wright says she ate enough beef as a child to last her a lifetime.

Then, her parents grew crops and raised livestock. Now, she's the chef and owner at One Love Vegetarian, a Jamaican vegetarian restaurant in Toronto.

"What I eat, what I put on my plate, is personal. And I think for everyone it should be personal, but it also should be conscious," Wright said.

"We have to think about sustainability. We have to think about future generations, because history will find us accountable for the choices that we make now."

Wright chose to become vegetarian for health and environmental reasons. Her popular restaurant serves up hearty Jamaican dishes such as callaloo, a barbecue tofu stir fry, potato and chickpea rotis and their signature corn soup.

She's part of a growing number of people who are worried about the carbon footprint of meat — and beef in particular, which the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization estimates is responsible for 41 per cent of all livestock emissions, far more than other meats.

Last week, the major U.S. food magazine and website, Epicurious, took a public stand on the issue by announcing they were no longer publishing beef recipes, because of how carbon-intensive the protein is.

Singling out beef
While meat products in general result in greater greenhouse gas emissions than plant-based sources of protein, Epicurious singled out beef arguing that one ingredient makes a difference.

In a post titled "The Planet on the Plate: Why Epicurious Left Beef Behind," the magazine's editors cited statistics from the World Resources Institute that beef requires 20 times more land and makes 20 times more greenhouse gases than common plant proteins, such as beans. It is also three times more carbon intensive than poultry and pork.

"It might not feel like much, but cutting out just a single ingredient — beef — can have an outsize impact on making a person's cooking more environmentally friendly," the editors wrote.

David Tamarkin, one of the co-authors of the post, is the former digital editor of Epicurious. In an interview with CBC Radio's As It Happens, he said that the magazine made the decision to stop posting new recipes with beef a year before the public announcement, in an effort to be "the most sustainable home cooking publication in the world."

"If you think about the point of a food publication like Epicurious, the whole point, its entire purpose, is to influence the way that people eat," Tamarkin said.

"There are millions and millions of people who go to Epicurious every month. If we were successful in replacing one beef meal with one vegetarian meal a month, that is a huge win. Because if everybody did that, that would make an enormous impact on the sustainability of our diets."... Read More