Americans have renounced beef! Everyone’s eating plants! The vegan trend is supposedly so huge these days, we are in the midst of an identity crisis, The New York Times claimed recently. “When it comes to America’s legacy of Manifest Destiny, there’s perhaps no meal more symbolic than a bleeding steak. So who are we now that we’re consuming less red meat?” the paper of record blathered.
The only problem is that such claims are 100% baloney. Although US consumption of beef fell from about 80 pounds annually per capita in the 1970s and early ’80s to a low of 54 pounds in 2017, it’s steadily rebounded since then to 58.6 pounds in 2021.
Yes, we are eating more beef today than we did five years ago, despite plant-based “Impossible” meat and Beyond Burgers taking over American menus and even McDonald’s.
Clearly, the “save your body, save the animals, save the planet” movement has not made a dent in actual eating habits, although some zealots are drinking the eco-friendly Kool-Aid — i.e., those plunking down $335 (before tip) for a cortege of microscopic “courses” at all-vegan Eleven Madison Park.
Let’s note that, despite reported high demand for reservations at EMP, which has all of 80 seats, the owners of a new skyscraper, 425 Park Avenue, pulled the plug on a planned new restaurant there by EMP chef/owner Daniel Humm because he insisted on an all-vegan menu. Humm also got the boot from London’s Claridge’s hotel over the same issue.
The truth is that true vegans are scarcer than Bernie Sanders supporters in Miami Beach.
The media-propelled notion that Americans have turned from red meat to fake meat is a case of Park Slope talking to Park Slope — elites hilariously out of touch with the masses.
The recent Times article, for example, cited a 2019 Gallup poll where one-quarter of respondents claimed they ate less meat. But in restaurants, people’s true tastes are on display for all to see.
Big Apple steakhouses are thriving and adding locations. Wolfgang’s has grown from a single Manhattan location to five since 2004. In the past five years, Hawksmoor opened up shop here from London, Mastro’s from Beverly Hills, and Salt Bae’s Nusr-Et from Istanbul.
The most in-demand dishes include Carbone’s $85 veal parmigiana (which drew crowds for takeout during the 2020 indoor-dining ban) and Carne Mare’s $115 gorgonzola-cured wagyu striploin. A new place called Skirt Steak NYC in Chelsea sells nothing else and is packed all the time.
Of course, the ban-the-beef movement is part of the ban-anything-that-tastes-good mindset that holds sway in woker-than-thou circles. Two years ago, the Conde Nast-owned Epicurious site harrumphed that, in the interest of “sustainability,” it would no longer carry new beef recipes. An editor’s note hinted that it expected others to follow. To date, no other comparable media organ has been stupid enough to do so.
The sale of foie gras will be banned altogether in the Big Apple as of Oct. 31. The goal is to spare ducks and geese the alleged misery of force-feeding. But the true purpose is to stick it to supposedly rich customers. By the same “cruelty” standard, sale of chickens and pork, which people of all income levels consume, should also be forbidden.
Meanwhile, Mark Pastore, president of Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors (which sells to places from Porter House to Shake Shack), told me his company’s red-meat sales “increase year after year by anywhere from 10-15 percent. I don’t see the demand dwindling anytime soon either anywhere.”
Except, maybe, in culinarily-correct media circles that have yet to learn that steak’s here to say — a tough pill for elites to swallow.