One of the world’s best restaurants is taking meat off the menu. Does it signal a looming battle?

Eleven Madison Park, a three-Michelin-star New York City restaurant that in 2017 laid claim to the No. 1 spot on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, announced Monday that when it reopens next month, meat and seafood will no longer be on the menu. “It was becoming clearer that the current food system is not sustainable, in so many ways,” Daniel Humm, the chef and owner, said in a statement.

Some people shrugged in response, viewing the move as a business decision from a high-end restaurant that most people can’t afford to eat at anyway. But others, like The Atlantic‘s Derek Thompson, found the news “genuinely shocking,” raising the question if this could be the start of a seismic change in the food industry.

National Journal‘s Josh Kraushaar received some backlash for describing the debate over meat consumption as the “next culture war,” but semantics aside, he argued, Humm’s choice is not an isolated one — the food-focused website Epicurious, for example, has eliminated all beef recipes — and instead appears to represent a “general shift among the progressive left on this issue.” Politico‘s Blake Hounshell agreed and pondered whether eating red meat will soon “be in the same cultural category as smoking.”

The New York Times‘ Ezra Klein, a vegan who supports moving away from meat, is a proponent of Eleven Madison Park’s change, and he anticipates some of the divide over meat consumption will dissipate as more chefs channel their creativity into “tastier” vegetarian dishes. But he also thinks a compromise is the best way forward for the restaurant industry. Klein envisions a future with 80 percent plant-based menus that also have some “ethically raised and environmentally sustainable” meat options. “The plausible world to get to is” one where “people eat much less … meat” as opposed to one where “most people are vegan,” he writes. Read more at The New York Times.

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Eleven Madison Park, Daniel Humm's three-star restaurants, is going vegan

Eleven Madison Park, one of the world’s most celebrated — and expensive — fine dining establishments, announced plans on Monday to operate as a plant-based and almost fully vegan restaurant, becoming one of the highest profile names in hospitality to stop serving animal-based products. When Eleven Madison Park reopens this […]