Lately a lot of ink has been spilled—or, to put it more accurately in terms of electrons, a lot of electrons have been spilled—about major changes in the world of cooking and cuisine as regards what we should be eating and, more importantly, what we shouldn’t. Of course, everybody knows by now that we shouldn’t be eating sofas. And, indeed, by and large, we’re not.
But there is far less unanimity concerning the eating of meat. The global sustainability of meat production is looking more and more tenuous; the amount of land, water, and other resources necessary to raise livestock for meat production has begun to seem increasingly problematic.
Worse, it happens that around 14% of all greenhouse gases responsible for climate change comes from cattle. We speak, here, of methane. For some reason, this news has come as a surprise. As implausible as it seems, for all of Hollywood’s visionary artistry, throughout the extensive history of cinematic and television westerns, not once did a scene even approximating the following ever take place:
GIL: Mount up, boys. (beat) Somethin’ eatin’ at you, Rowdy?
ROWDY: Just thinkin’, Boss. You ever suppose that one day the world’ll be destroyed by cattle farts?
GIL: Wouldn’t be a bit surprised. But that ain’t our lookout. (shouts) Move ‘em out!
The latest developments in what we might call the “ecology of cuisine” took place over the last few weeks. First, the popular food site Epicurious announced that it would no longer publish new recipes featuring beef. (Its thousands of previous recipes remain online and accessible.)
Then, last week, the prestigious restaurant Eleven Madison Park—thought by some to be the best restaurant in the world, and the only U.S. establishment to win four stars from the New York Times and three stars from Guide Michelin—announced that, when it re-opened after closing for the pandemic, it would no longer feature dishes with either meat or seafood. It would feature an all-but-strictly vegan menu based entirely on plants, not counting the milk and honey available for coffee or tea.
Naturally, news of these changes at some of the highest levels of the American cuisine industry caused all eyes to turn to Learning from Linguine. How, people wondered, would we meet the challenges embraced and passed on by these two respected institutions?
Our reply appears below. To readers who find them to be, in one way or another, extraordinary, we can only respond that we live in extraordinary times, and must react accordingly.
1. Learning from Linguine will, from today on, not publish any recipes using beef unless they’re really good. That will eliminate some of the beef-based recipes we have already developed and have otherwise intended to publish, which aren’t so great.
2. As for other forms of meat, we will only publish recipes which employ meats from animals that only eat plants. We will immediately shut down our research program investigating the feasibility of employing plants that eat meat, such as the Venus Fly-Trap (Dionaea muscipula). We will, henceforth, eliminate from our recipes animals that eat animals, animals that eat people, and particularly people that eat people. It is and has always been our fundamental belief that people need people, and, indeed, that people who need people are the luckiest people in the world.
3. We will continue to use, as ingredients, plant-based vegetables, grains, herbs, spices, alliums, and legumes. Even sweet potatoes, which we’re not that crazy about. And don’t forget—sugar is a plant, too, thank God.
4. We will, in the restaurant we sometimes fantasize about opening, feature a vegan-tasting menu, for customers who insist on eating their menus. We will also strictly enforce a policy of decorating the dining room with plant-based plants.
5. We will encourage the use, in our recipes, in our imaginary restaurant, and especially in our daily lives, of other plant-based ingredients, including plant-based wines, gin, vodka, beer, scotch, etc.
6. Henceforth we will continue to refuse to dine in restaurants whose multicourse menus include meat-based dishes and cost $75 and up (including tip).
7. We will continue, however much in vain, to encourage manufacturers and retailers of plant-based products, including apparel, paper goods, building materials, dyes, perfumes, athletic sneakers, and toothpicks, to advertise on our site.
8. We will continue to use eggs, because come on.
9. We will continue to serve and eat bread and other baked goods, because yeasts, as everyone knows, are eukaryotic, single-celled microorganisms classified as members of the fungus kingdom. It’s a kingdom, but that doesn’t mean it has a king. It’s an organism, but that doesn’t mean it’s made of meat. We mean, be reasonable.
10. None of this shall be construed to mean that we like lima beans.
We at Learning from Linguine believe that everyone must do their part to ensure the sustainability of the world’s food supply, the livability of the climate of our precious planet Earth, and the survival of Learning from Linguine. We hope you join us in these sentiments.
Nancy L Shulins says