Reducetarians: small steps to health and sustainability

Reducetarians: small steps to health and sustainability

March 13, 2020

Reducetarians: small steps to health and sustainability

Reducetarians aim to reduce their consumption as much as possible, without completely giving up animal products, in the knowledge that they are benefiting their own health and that of the planet

The “all or nothing” formula doesn't suit everyone, even when it comes to nutrition. And so, while recognizing the importance of reducing their consumption of meat and other products of animal origin, many are unable to give it up completely. There is an alternative, as explained by reducetarians: people who have adopted the “philosophy” of reducing the animal component of their daily diet in small steps. “The Reducetarian Foundation aims to improve human health, protect the environment, and spare farm animals from cruelty by reducing societal consumption of animal products”, reads the mission of the Reducetarian Foundation, chaired and co-funded by Brian Kateman of the US.

The right compromise?

The idea of starting from achievable and not too drastic goals is not new. Introduced between the two World Wars in the United States, in an effort to reduce the consumption of certain foods in a difficult situation, the idea has more recently been taken up by the US Meatless Monday Campaign, launched in 2003 with the support of the Center for a Livable Future at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and by other initiatives including Meat-Free Mondays launched in 2009 by Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney. 

Regardless of its origin or the name you want to give it, the idea still seems to be a valid alternative to more drastic and more difficult choices to stick to, such as vegetarianism or veganism. In fact, according to a survey conducted in the United States a few years ago, 84% of vegetarians and vegans go back to eating meat and a significant number of people (43%) find it difficult to follow the vegetarian or vegan diet without any transgression. “We celebrate the small changes in personal behavior that collectively result in a significant difference in the world”, says the website of the Reducetarian Foundation, which simply promotes a reduction in the consumption of animal products, regardless of the reasons and the size of this reduction.

And while the recommendations made by experts are all aimed at reducing the consumption of animal products to promote personal health, the data on the environmental footprint of individual food choices, also reported by the Barilla Foundation in its Eating Planet publication, reaffirm the importance of this attitude particularly for the health of the planet. To give just one example, by consuming animal proteins only twice a week you can cut CO2 equivalent emissions by as much as 2,300 g per day compared to bringing meat to the table every day. Not much at the level of the individual, but a great contribution to the environment and health if practiced by everyone.

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