Happy 2015, everyone!
Have you finished making your list of resolutions/goals/plans for the New Year?
If not, I have some suggestions for you!
If you are an omnivore, resolve to become a reducetarian!
If you are a vegan, resolve to encourage others to become reducetarians! (You know, your friends and family who have so far remained resistant to every weapon in your vegan arsenal – your “Go Veg!” pamphlets, your graphic Facebook photos and PETA videos, your carefully considered arguments, your double-feature movie night of Forks Over Knives and Get Vegucated, and your vegan cupcakes and brownies.)
I truly believe most people today are interested in “eating less meat.” For reasons as individual as the person. Health, the environment, animal welfare.
Still, many hesitate to become vegan or vegetarian. Again, there are a number of reasons. Meat eating is a part of our culture and strongly associated with major holidays. (“Thanksgiving” is now considered “Turkey Day” as much as it is considered an occasion for giving thanks, and the Fourth of July is pretty much just an excuse to BBQ.) Some people lack access to healthy foods or knowledge about good nutrition. But my guess is, for most, a vegan diet seems too difficult. Too restrictive. Intimidating.
Enter reducetarianism. An option that – unlike being “flexitarian” – does requires a lifestyle change. But a very doable, not drastic, one.
It’s an option that encourages a gradual transition to healthier and more responsible eating.
I’ve written about the Reducetarian Movement before – a movement led by my friend Brian Kateman. I was one of the first in the media to pick up the story in early December. Since then the movement has spread, being covered by Women’s Health Magazine and even crossing the Atlantic to appear in Britain’s The Daily Mail.
The Reducetarian Movement simply asks you take a serious look at your meat consumption, and then choose to eat more responsibly by thinking mindfully about each meal and making an active decision to EAT LESS MEAT.
“Eating Less Meat” obviously will mean different things to different people, and it’s up to the individual to set their own goals.
- Eat meat only at dinner, or only at lunch.
- Celebrate “Meatless Mondays.”
- Declare a “Meatless Weekend,” or only eat meat on the weekend.
- Cook one new meatless recipe per week.
- Choose a veggie burrito instead of a beef burrito.
- Swap the beef in your Thai curry with tofu.
- Order Chana Masala (spiced chickpeas) at an Indian restaurant instead Murgh Makhani (butter chicken).
- Select an 8 oz. steak instead of a 12 oz. steak.
- Eat veggie pizza instead of pepperoni.
- Choose a cheeseburger instead of a double cheeseburger.
- Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth in vegetable soups.
Reducetarians focus mostly on reducing meat, but I’d like to encourage reducing dairy as well:
- Try almond, soy, rice, coconut, or cashew milk instead of dairy milk.
- Choose mustard over mayonnaise, or try an egg-free mayo like Vegenaise.
- Skip the “extra cheese” on your pizza.
- Skip the mayo-based pasta salads, eggs, and cheese at a salad bar and instead load your salad up with fresh vegetables, fruits, beans, and nuts.
- Order an omelette with two eggs, not three. Or order a bowl of oatmeal and fruit.
- Instead of butter, use Earth Balance margarine or flaxseed oil to season your food and olive or vegetable oil to cook with.
These are all small, easy changes, but changes which add up over time and can make a substantial difference to your health, the environment, animal welfare, and even your pocketbook.
Start by watching this inspiring TedxTalk. It’s non-graphic, low-key, and quite funny (when was the last time you heard about a Jewish vegetarian getting busted for eating bacon?) Then head over to the Reducetarian site to take a pledge to “Eat Less Meat” for 30 days. Yes, that’s all the original commitment is – not a lifetime, not forever, but just 30 days.
Although, I’m willing to bet that most people will choose to continue being reducetarians after 30 days are up – and will then revise their goals to eat even less meat!
Also, please consider donating to the Reducetarian Indiegogo Campaign. As of today, they have raised 77% of their $20,000 goal. The money will be used to build an educational program and conduct workshops about food and sustainability in schools and public spaces. The Indiegogo campaign ends January 14 at 11:59 pm.