What Is Reducetarianism? Learn All About This Smart New Way to Eat and See If It's Right for You
In their 2022 food trends predictions, Whole Foods Market forecasts that reducetarianism will be on the rise in the year ahead. Are you wondering what exactly does this buzzword mean? "Reducetarianism is reducing one's consumption of meat, dairy, and eggs, often without cutting them out completely," explains Rachel Bukowski, senior team leader of product development at Whole Foods Market. "It's a quality over quantity approach to consuming animal products, so when Reducetarians do choose to eat these items, they'll often focus on higher quality products like premium grass-fed meat or pasture-raised eggs."
Of course, this so-called "trend" has been around for decades, as eco- and health-conscious eaters alike have long reduced their consumption of animal products as a way to to feel better and/or help the environment. Now, the style of eating seems more popular than ever, and Bukowski says the supermarket chain is seeing this trend on the rise with what many of their customers are purchasing. "For instance, Applegate offers burgers that are meat and veggie blends that are made with 100 percent grass-fed beef," she says. And as anyone perusing their local grocery store aisles sees, foods once relegated to "health food stores," like plant-based meat substitutes, nut milks, and vegan cheese and egg substitutes have gone mainstream.
Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, an inclusive plant-based registered dietitian and owner of Plant-Based Eats in Stamford, CT, is all for this way of eating and the growth of the reducetarianism movement. "It's the perfect middle ground for anyone who wants to eat more of a plant-forward diet but doesn't want to go full-fledged vegan or vegetarian," she says. "Eating more plant products—including plant proteins like tofu, nuts, and seeds—and less red meat means that you are taking in more health-helping antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals," she continues, adding that unlike animal proteins, plant proteins also boast fiber, which is beneficial not only for weight management but also for cholesterol levels.
Curious to try adopting this eating style? "Don't aim for perfectionism!" counsels Gorin, suggesting people start with Meatless Monday and/or a few meatless meals a week. "But don't just aim for going meatless—play around with ingredients so you find substitutes that you truly enjoy. For instance, maybe you find baked tofu super tasty and enjoy that as a replacement for poultry," she adds.
For someone for whom meat, dairy, and eggs have long been staples of their diet, small swaps can make the transition easier, stresses Gorin. "Note that you're looking to reduce consumption of animal products and not eliminate them entirely. So that on its own means that you aren't going cold turkey!" she says. "Play around with what works for you. Some swaps will be relatively easy—there are, for instance, many options for dairy-free yogurt and plant-based milks out there. See what you like. You may love oat milk but think that coconut milk isn't so tasty. And that's OK."
Echoing Gorin, Bukowski says that if you're looking to try reducetarianism or incorporate part of the lifestyle into your daily routine, you can start by picking up more fruits and vegetables at the grocery store and look for plant-based options for meals. "And if you are adding animal products to your cart—look for labels like 'grass-fed' or 'pasture-raised.'" With the money you're saving from buying fewer animal products, you may find that organic, grass-fed, pasture-raised, and like goods are more easily able to fit into your budget, while still keeping your overall grocery bills lower. Another convincing reason to hop aboard the reducetarianism train.