Ditching Meat Isn’t the Answer for Climate Change. Better Farming Is.

Suddenly, meat is out in the high-end food world. Eleven Madison Park, a New York City restaurant with three Michelin stars, recently announced that when it reopens after a pandemic-forced hiatus, the menu will be vegan. The cooking site Epicurious is no longer publishing new beef recipes, and the San Francisco restaurants run by another three-Michelin-starred chef, Dominique Crenn, went meatless a little over a year ago. Meat-substitute brands like Impossible Foods (which raised $200 million its latest round of venture capital funding last year) and rival Beyond Meat (which recently struck high-profile deals with Subway and KFC) are booming.

At first glance, this seems like good news. Many of these restaurants cite boosting sustainability and reducing their carbon footprint as reasons for their decisions; forcing the food system to reckon with how commercial meat production contributes to greenhouse gas emissions is a noble goal. But rejecting meat outright is unlikely to bring anywhere near enough consumers on board to solve the underlying environmental problems plaguing our food system.