How to decrease your intake of animal products without fully eliminating them for a more environmentally friendly diet.
By Katie Wood
Chicken nuggets, butter, ice cream — how could you ever imagine giving these staple foods up? Well, if you are looking for a more environmentally friendly diet without giving up some of your insatiable cravings, let us introduce you to reducetarian eating! Reducetarians are committed to eating less meat and dairy and fewer eggs — following their own hearts and individual motivations!
Our diets play a big part in developing aspects of our culture, environment, and wellbeing. Today we have more choice than ever before about how and what we eat, yet a growing population means extra resources are needed. The demand for animal products has seen a rapid increase which has exposed the harms that this industry causes on the surrounding environment. There are countless positive benefits to reducing your intake of meat and other animal products and people are beginning to realize this. The vegan/ vegetarian diet is becoming rapidly more normalized in our society, which makes reducetarian eating even easier to enact! However, if you have loved meat and dairy all of your life, where do you even start?
The first step to reducetarian eating is to learn to take your time. Starting this diet is not a race to the finish line; in order to maintain it in a positive manner, we must grow accustomed to it first. It is not sustainable to just go cold turkey; each dieter is unique and functioning under different circumstances. Since we don’t live in a world that is totally reducetarian friendly yet, it is much more convenient for some people to consume animal products on a daily basis. It may be easier for a single bachelor to reduce than it is for a single mom with young children at home. If you allow yourself time to adapt to the new reducetarian lifestyle, it will come much easier over time.
Treat meat as a side dish. Most of us have been taught that meat is the main star of any dish, but changing our perspective of this is a great place to begin. If you start seeing meat as a treat you get to enjoy occasionally, or as a side dish, it will become easier and easier for you to gradually cut it out of your meals.
Get creative with your go-to dishes. If you play around and figure out just how to perfect your favorite meals sans animal products, you are less likely to miss out on your typical diet. Since veganism has become trendy in our modern world, there are vegan and vegetarian versions of almost everything now, so you have lots of options to test and create with! If you love mac and cheese, there are some super yummy alternatives to making it without dairy.
Make sure you are eating enough! Vegan and vegetarian alternatives typically contain a lot less calories than animal products do, which is why people following these lifestyles tend to lose weight easier. Without considering this, it can be easy to fall into the habit of not consuming enough calories. If you have grown accustomed to eating a calorie-dense, meat diet, it may be more difficult to get sufficient calories through these alternatives. This is another great point as to why it is important to take your time while reducing. Once you learn how to get sufficient caloric intake as a reducetarian, you will be thrilled to learn how much you can indulge!
Some of our favorite dishes to get started with reducetarian eating are Buffalo Cauliflower Wings, Hearty Chili, Cowboy Salads, Jackfruit tacos, and a crowd favorite—banana bread! All of these meals and more can be made to fit the reducetarian lifestyle. There are countless options to keep your body sustained while still enjoying the foods you love. If you ever miss a taste of your favorite meat or cheesy dish, go ahead and enjoy it! The reducetarian diet is not about going vegan or vegetarian — it is being more conscious about what we put into our bodies and how it affects the environment around us. Don’t be afraid to put a spin on your favorite recipes!