What is Reducetarianism and How Does it Impact the Foods you Eat?
Reducetarianism offers a way to reduce animal product consumption. Find out the definition, what it means to be a reducetarian, and how it might impact your diet.
What is Reducetarianism?
Reducetarianism is a movement that promotes the reduction of meat consumption. This movement was founded by Brian Kateman, who is also the founder of the Reducetarian Foundation.
Reducetarianism is not a diet. It's more like a lifestyle. People adopting reducetarianism choose to eat less meat, eggs and dairy for health, animal welfare, and environmental reasons. They believe that eating less of these foods will reduce their carbon footprint and positively impact their health, animals, and the environment in general.
Environmental Benefits of Reducetarianism
Reducing the amount of meat we eat helps to combat climate change by reducing our carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions. Meat production is an energy-intensive process. The land, water and fertilizer used in the livestock industry contribute significantly to the world's greenhouse gas emissions. The livestock sector also contributes to deforestation and erodes biodiversity.
Benefits of Reducetarianism on Animal Welfare
One of the aims of the reducetarian movement is to improve the welfare of animals. Issues around factory farming and overfishing are largely due to our demand for these products. The movement's major focus is reducing the need for meat, fish and dairy products. In particular, this includes eating meat less often and switching from factory-farmed meats and fish to pasture-raised or wild-caught animal products.
Benefits of Reducetarianism on Health
The idea behind reducetarianism is that while we reduce our intake of animal products, these will be replaced with plant-based alternatives like legumes, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds. These foods are rich in fibre and prebiotics, which are terrific for our gut health. Diets rich in these foods can help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events and cancers, such as bowel and breast cancer!
Nutrition Considerations, what's missing?
Some specific vitamins and minerals are abundant in animal products, so if we reduce these, we need to ensure we're getting them elsewhere.
Protein, Calcium, Vitamin B12, Iron, Zinc and Omega 3 fats are nutrients impacted when we eat fewer animal-based foods. The good thing about reducetarianism is that we're not eliminating these foods altogether, but it's something to keep in mind if making significant changes to one's diet.
If reducing consumption of dairy foods, swap these with plant-based products fortified with Vitamin B12, and Calcium, like soy milk.
Foods like legumes, tofu, fortified cereals, and spinach can provide plant-based alternatives to Iron. These foods should be complemented with a source of Vitamin C for optimal absorption.
How to Introduce Reducetarianism
As with any dietary changes, start slow, and give your routine and body a chance to become acquainted. Think about good swaps for the foods you're reducing that help make up for the vitamins and minerals you'd be getting less of. For example, lentils can make an excellent substitute for minced meat. Always check in with your health professional for individual guidance if you have an existing health condition.
A meat-free Monday for example, might be a good place to start.
Swap cows for plant-based milk fortified with Calcium and Vitamin B12.
Try reducing the quantity of meat served on your plate and fill the rest with vegetables.
I like the philosophy behind reducetarianism. It seems gentler and easier to manage nutritional changes without compromising one's nutrition too much. If you've got a family with different dietary preferences you need to take care of, It can be hard to manage significant changes like swapping to a complete vegetarian eating pattern.
For any swap, think about food swaps that can substitute nutrients like that extra Iron, Zinc, Protein, Vitamin B12, Omega 3 and D that animal-based foods provide.
Image Credits: vaaseenaa