March 2022 Issue
Culinary Corner: Reducetarian Eating — A Diet Trend Clients Will Be Asking About This Year
By Liz Weiss, MS, RDN
Vol. 24, No. 3, P. 66
I’m neither a vegan nor a vegetarian. I’m a plant-loving omnivore whose diet includes red meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and dairy. I’m one of those dietitians who espouses an “all foods fit” approach to healthful eating. The beauty of nutrition these days is that there’s no such thing as, or need for, a one-size-fits-all diet. What works for me may not work for you, and that’s OK.
When it comes to diets, trends, and popular eating plans, there’s certainly no shortage to choose from. Let’s take reducetarianism as an example. Reduce-ah-what, you ask?
The term “reducetarian” was coined by Brian Kateman, author of The Reducetarian Solution and cofounder of the Reducetarian Foundation, an organization whose stated mission is to improve human health, protect the environment, and spare farm animals from cruelty by decreasing consumption of animal products.1 Reducetarians strive to eat less red meat, poultry, and seafood, as well as less dairy and fewer eggs, and they do it in a gradual, flexible, and mindful way. Vegans and vegetarians are considered reducetarians—both groups, for example, have reduced their meat consumption to zero. But other people prefer a less restrictive approach; they want to eat fewer animal products but don’t necessarily want to give them up entirely … and they too are reducetarians. Anyone can reduce—and many people are doing it.
According to Whole Foods Market and other trends trackers, reducetarian diets are slated to be one of the top food trends in 2022.2 And the 2021 Food & Health Survey conducted by the International Food Information Council shows that 1 in 4 consumers say they’re eating more protein from plant sources—most notably, plant-based meat and dairy alternatives—than a year ago. The same survey shows that 1 in 5 consumers deem it “very important” to know that their food was produced with animal welfare in mind.3
So, what are some simple steps clients and patients can take to adopt a reducetarian style of eating? Here’s some food for thought:
• Start with Meatless Monday by adding one vegetarian or vegan meal to Monday night’s dinner rotation.
• Replace one-half the ground beef in a meat sauce with sautéed vegetables—such as chopped mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, or onion.
• Make small swaps with plant-based meat substitutes and burgers, nut milks, and vegan cheese.
• Roast 1-inch slices of cauliflower for “steaks,” and top with a savory vegetarian mix of pasta sauce and cooked lentils.
• Use canned beans—black, kidney, pinto—as the main protein source in hearty vegetable-based chili.
Cutting back on animal foods doesn’t guarantee a more healthful diet, so it’s important to remind clients to fill their grocery carts with plant foods rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, and tofu.
— Liz Weiss, MS, RDN, is a mom of two grown boys with a specialty in family nutrition and wellness. She shares recipes and healthful living advice on LizsHealthyTable.com and her podcast, EAT, DRINK, LIVE LONGER. Weiss is a cooking instructor, frequent lifestyle guest on TV shows across the country, and a Have a Plant Ambassador for the Produce for Better Health Foundation.
1. Reducetarian Foundation website. https://www.reducetarian.org/
2. The next big things: our top 10 food trends for 2022. Whole Foods Market website. https://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/trends/top-food-trends-2022
3. International Food Information Council. 2021 Food & Health Survey. https://foodinsight.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/IFIC-2021-Food-and-Health-Survey.May-2021-1.pdf. Published May 19, 2021.