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Media outlets fail to walk their talk

An investigation has found that many media outlets that claim to take the climate crisis seriously are failing to prioritize vegan food, and are still promoting mostly meat recipes.

That is despite extensive research showing that a plant-based food system is one of the most effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In fact, a UN report stated that raising meat causes more global warming than all the cars, buses, trucks, trains, planes and ships in the world put together. Another report written by climate scientists at the World Bank determined that animal agriculture is actually responsible for 51% of greenhouse gas emissions.

The authors of the investigation analyzed the cooking sections of eight major news outlets to check whether their recipes were as climate-conscious as their reporting. They used a script to select around 100 recent recipes from eight media outlets. This script categorized recipes as omnivorous, vegetarian, or vegan. The categorizations were then manually checked to confirm accuracy. They found that of the top four British-based outlets and top four US-based outlets with responsible climate reporting, five have recipe sections dominated by meat-based recipes.

Claire Hamlett, co-author on the report, said: “Despite the strong evidence that dietary change is a key way for individuals and nations to reduce their climate impact, many media outlets are still supporting the status quo of high meat consumption with their choice of recipes.” More than half of recipes investigated are still meat-based.

The report follows an investigation earlier this year which found that only seven percent of climate articles mentioned animal agriculture. Clearly, there’s a disconnect. Making more recipes plant-based would be a simple but significant shift that these media outlets could easily make to help people learn how to consume more plant-based foods.