There's no shortage of people telling you how to eat for your health - eat less fat, eat less sugar, eat more vegetables - but what about eating for the health of the planet? One thing is clear where agriculture and the environment are concerned - eating less meat is a good way to lessen your impact on the planet. The good news is, you don't have to become a vegan to make this dietary change. By simply reducing your consumption, you can make a big impact and join a growing community.
In The Reducetarian Solution, Brian Kateman's new book about eating less meat, we're introduced to the "reducetarian" who is, according to Kateman, "Someone who is simply committed to eating less meat and who is proactively reducing their consumption." Katemen published the book - a collection of essays about all aspects of eating meat - after numerous conversations with friends about their growing awareness that large-scale, factory-farmed meat production is hard on the planet, bad for health and causes animal suffering.
Kateman's friends all expressed a desire to become vegetarians or vegans but realized they weren't able to fully commit to completely eliminating meat from their diets. They were making choices to eat more mindfully, which included strategies like Meatless Monday, which advocates reducing meat consumption by 15 percent just by going meat-free one day per week. While they knew that they were making a meaningful difference, they weren't sure how to describe their new dietary choices.
Kateman and his friends coined the term "reducetarian," which became an identity, and through that lens are building a community and movement of people who are consciously eating less meat. "The time has come to unite forces," says Kateman, president of the Reducetarian Foundation. "We may have different motivations and views on animal agriculture, but when it comes to reducing societal consumption of animal products and ending factory farming, we're all on the same team."
A few of the biggest impacts caused by conventional meat production include:
- Produces *14.5 percent of greenhouse gasses through deforestation and land degradation;
- Causes nitrogen and phosphorus nutrient overload; and
- Has an extremely high water footprint - a person's diet makes up approximately two-thirds of their water footprint, primarily due to meat consumption.
Kateman's book presents over 70 essays "from influential thinkers on how the simple act of cutting 10 percent or more of the meat from one's diet can transform the life of the reader, animals and the planet." Contributing authors include influential people like Seth Godin, Joel Fuhrman, Jeffrey Sachs, Bill McKibben, Naomi Oreskes, Peter Singer and Meatless Monday's own Sid Lerner, who writes about his motivation and the history behind his wildly successful meat reduction campaign.
Now, Kateman has organized the Reducetarian Summit, happening in New York City May 20th and 21st. With an impressive list of speakers and panelists, the summit will explore how to create a more equitable, compassionate and sustainable food system and asks the question, "How do we as individuals, organizations, communities and societies work to systematically decrease meat consumption?"
It's a good question. In fact, it's the central focus of our simple messaging: Eat less meat, eat better meat. The future of our planet depends on it.
*The post was edited to include an updated percentage of GHG emissions and associated source.