Whether it's Meatless Mondays, "Veganuary", Vegan Before 6, or our founder Graham Hill's approach of Weekday Vegetarianism, the world now has many different terms and strategies for folks who are trying to cut down on their meat consumption.
Brian Kateman has proposed an umbrella movement for this overall mission—Reducetarianism. And he's now promoting a Reducetarian Summit, and launching a book called The Reducetarian Solution, to help make this movement happen.
So what exactly is Reducetarianism? Here's how Kateman's website describes it:
[The Reducetarian movement] is composed of individuals who are committed to eating less meat - red meat, poultry, and seafood - as well as less dairy and fewer eggs, regardless of the degree or motivation. This concept is appealing because not everyone is willing to follow an "all-or-nothing" diet. However, reducetarianism is still inclusive of vegans, vegetarians, and anyone else who reduces the amount of animal products in their diet.
Kateman was kind enough to send me a review copy of his book, and I must say it's an impressive work that offers both practical tips and strategies, as well as broader context and education, for folks wanting to cut back on their meat consumption. Comprising of short 1 to 2 page essays from leading environmentalists, academics, thinkers and food and health writers including Lindsay Nixon, the aforementioned Graham Hill, Mark Bittman and countless others, the book offers thoughts on everything from the perils of antibiotic resistance to the impact of meat on climate change, as well as strategies and "behavior hacks" to help people take the plunge and stick with it. There's also a provoking piece on the "naturalness" of cannibalism, if that's your kind of thing.
As someone who has previously raised the hackles of vegans with my question about the viability of a truly vegan world, I understand that there will be many non-meat eaters who see this as being much more complicated than it needs to be. After all, essays calculating the relative amount of cruelty you inflict when you eat chicken versus beef are unlikely to impress someone who believes that meat really is murder. Similarly, as a book representing more than 70 different view points, every reader will find something to question or disagree with. For my part, I was surprised to read—for example—the aforementioned meditations on eating beef instead of chicken as a way to reduce cruelty, without taking into account the fact that beef is an order of magnitude more harmful to the environment.
That said, the point of this book—and the point of Reducetarianism in general—is not to offer a prescriptive solution. After all, however much advocates may believe that an animal agriculture-free world would be a happier one, it's fair to say that we are a very, very long way off from the kinds of economic and cultural changes that would make that happen. Reducetarianism offers a pathway toward less destructive consumption patterns and may—for some—be a gateway drug to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.
The fact that Americans ate 19% less beef between 05 and 14 suggests we may be making progress in reducing the impact of our diets. This book offers a really fantastic, thought provoking and wide-ranging perspective for how we can keep this momentum moving forward. Here's a chicken who thinks you should give it a try: