Eleven Madison Park is an internationally renowned restaurant in New York City; it has three Michelin stars and is regularly listed as one of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. And when its pandemic-shuttered dining room reopens in June, its menu will be plant-based.
Here’s how owner Daniel Humm, a James Beard Award winner as a chef, explained the decision: “We have always operated with sensitivity to the impact we have on our surroundings, but it was becoming ever clearer that the current food system is simply not sustainable, in so many ways.” He continued: “[W]e’ve made the decision to serve a plant-based menu in which we do not use any animal products.”
The restaurant’s decision to go meat- and dairy-free shows that some of the most successful and forward-looking businesses are recognizing that they have a responsibility to reflect on how they impact animals and the planet.
Eleven Madison Park’s decision, which has already gotten a lot of enthusiastic buzz in the media, is just the latest of many remarkable plant-based wins. Last week, Epicurious, a respected food resource for home chefs, announced it stopped publishing beef recipes due to the environmental destruction caused by animal agriculture, replacing them with vegetarian recipes instead. Yelp.com ranked vegan restaurant Kelley Farm Kitchen (in West Virginia) as the “Top Place to Eat in 2021.” And food influencers seem to be increasingly coming up green: For instance, Joe Yonan, the food and dining editor at the Washington Post, “came out” as vegetarian years ago and frequently highlights plant-based cuisine in the paper’s Food section and authors meat-free cookbooks. In doing so, Yonan followed in the footsteps of New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman, who coined the term “vegan before dinnertime” as a proponent of meat reduction.
From our view here at the Humane Society family of organizations, this progress is a sheer joy to witness. For decades, we have been advocating for more humane treatment of animals in agriculture in the U.S. and around the world but in 2013 we fortified our investment into reducing meat consumption in the U.S. and around the world by expanding our work with decision-makers who have the power to influence large scale meat-free food procurement and thus expand the marketplace of choice for consumers worldwide.
In the U.S., we partner with the biggest food service companies to bring delicious plant-based dishes onto their menus. This has led to hundreds of schools and colleges, hospitals, military bases, prisons and stadiums offering exponentially more plant-based meals. Data indicates that more plant-based offerings translate to more plant-based food purchases, decreasing the number of animals killed for food, while providing healthier, more sustainable meals that take stress off an already over-stressed planet. Our culinary work was recently featured in the U.S. food service industry’s trade publication for “pushing the boundaries of plant-based eating.”
It’s an honor to be a part of this movement for a healthier and more sustainable world. You can be a part of this positive change, too: As so many of you are inspired to lean into the green end of the dietary spectrum, we encourage you to visit our “Eating Humanely” resource that makes it easier to create plant-based meals that benefit your health, the planet and of course the animals.