Fact Check: Instagram posts – New York mayor has beef with carbon emissions, but isn’t tracking or limiting city’s meat eaters
New York City Mayor Eric Adams has long promoted a plant-based diet, one he credits for improving his health after he was diagnosed with diabetes.
Some social media users are saying he’s taking his advocacy too far and infringing on New Yorkers’ diets.
“NYC mayor plans to track & limit meat & dairy,” read sticker text atop a May 20 video shared on Instagram.
The post’s caption urged New Yorkers to “prepare yourselves. And if you’re able, GET OUT.”
The Instagram post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
We found similar claims being shared elsewhere.
But the posts are misleading, omitting key information about Adams’ plans.
The clip in the post comes from an April 17 news conference, in which Adams discussed how greenhouse gas emissions from meat and dairy products affect the climate and described a new effort to reduce those emissions in city agencies.
Those efforts do not involve tracking and limiting individual residents’ meat and dairy intake.
Adams spoke about the city’s inventory of greenhouse gas emissions. The report, developed by the Mayor’s Office of Climate & Environmental Justice, showed that household consumption of food made up 20% of the city’s emissions, third-most behind buildings (35%) and transportation (21%).
The majority of emissions from food are from meat and dairy products, Adams said. By 2030, the city aims to reduce by 33% carbon emissions from food purchases across its public agencies. Adams urged private sector partners to reduce theirs by 25%.
Adams’ office didn’t return a request for comment. But Kate MacKenzie, the executive director of the mayor’s office of food policy, explained at the April news conference how the city would reduce carbon emissions from food.
Food standards Adams implemented a year earlier for city agencies limit how often red meat can be served each week and require at least one plant-based entree be offered at lunch and dinner, she said.
The standards apply to city agencies that serve food at places like hospitals, schools, homeless shelters and jails. They don’t apply to residents, who are free to consume as many burgers and milkshakes as they see fit.
More meatless options are already offered in New York City public schools, including “plant-powered Fridays,” she said, and plant-based meals are now the default option at public hospitals.
Ben Gould, the president of EcoDataLab, which modeled the emissions data for the city, said the calculations “do not include tracking or collecting any individual’s food or other purchases.”
The data is based on the U.S. Consumer Expenditures Surveys, a national voluntary survey program of households that self-report expenditures on goods and services. That information is aggregated and anonymized by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Gould said. EcoDataLab scaled those results to the local level, using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, to estimate emissions.
“In other words, we start with national averages, and then adjust based upon differences between the average New York City household, city-wide or tract-level, and the average U.S. household,” said Gould.
The company explained its methodology in greater detail in the report and on its website.
An Instagram post claimed the New York City mayor “plans to track and limit meat and dairy” but it leaves out key details.
Adams in April announced an effort to reduce emissions from food served by city agencies, inspired by a report that found food consumption was the third-leading cause of emissions in the city. That report did not involve tracking individual purchases by city residents.
Adams has already installed food standards that limit the number of times red meat can be served at city-run facilities, and he has added more plant-based options at schools and hospitals. He has not sought to limit people’s dining habits.
The statement contains an element of truth in that Adams does support policies that limit red meat offerings by city agencies. But these efforts do not involve tracking individuals’ meal choices.
We rate the claim Mostly False.