The popular food website Epicurious is taking a step towards protecting the environment by discontinuing recipes that include beef, the outlet shared in an article. The company said that “cutting out beef is a worthwhile first step,” to more sustainable cooking.

“We know that some people might assume that this decision signals some sort of vendetta against cows — or the people who eat them,” Maggie Hoffman, a senior editor, and David Tamarkin, a former digital director, wrote in an article. “But this decision was not made because we hate hamburgers (we don’t!).”

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The site shared that vegetarian substitutes and meat alternatives do well on the site. “The traffic and engagement numbers on these stories don’t lie: When given an alternative to beef, American cooks get hungry,” the company said.

The site’s decision caused internet derision, with opposing sides facing off. “If you’re really concerned about animal welfare, you’d stop publishing recipes that include chicken (which imposes far more sentient suffering per pound of meat than beef does). If you’re really concerned about climate change, you’d support nuclear power,” one user tweeted.

But, red meat consumption is responsible for a significant number of greenhouse gas emissions around the world. Many facets of cows make them problematic for the environment. According to the Washington Post, if cows were a country of their own, they would be the third-largest emitters of greenhouse gases globally. The amount of farmland cows require is also quite extensive.

If people reduced their meat consumption, the planet would benefit. Carbon emissions would be reduced and fewer forests would be chopped down to meet demands for beef. Reducing agriculture is an important step to meeting emissions targets. Richard Waite at the World Resources Institute told the Washington Post, “But if we don’t reduce emissions from agriculture, we’re not going to be able to hit climate targets even if we get it exactly right on fossil fuels.”

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