A new word: Reducetarian

I just watched an interesting TedX talk about the negative connotations behind the words vegan and vegetarian. Tell a stranger you’re a vegan and they make all sorts of negative assumptions about you. This is why I prefer to call myself a plant-eater. A friend of mine once told me that when they first found out I didn’t eat meat they assumed I was a home-birthing hippie. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m a big fan of hospitals and epidurals when it comes to child birth and I’m not exactly a hippie. Other people probably turn away in fear when they hear the v-word. Maybe they’re terrified I’ll give them a lecture? Or that I’m so hungry and undernourished I might try to bite chunks of flesh from their limbs?

I’m not a strict vegan. If someone offers me tea with milk I’d probably drink it. I don’t like the taste of diary products though, having grown accustomed to soy milk now. I gave up meat and diary 10 years ago. I continued eating eggs initially because I had my own hens – Henrietta, Heather, and Hazel – and they were well-treated by me and so I saw no reason not to continue eating their eggs. I don’t eat eggs any more but I know I’ve probably ingested them over the years because I will eat cakes and desserts when I’m out or at someone’s place and I never bother to ask if they’re egg- and dairy-free. But I do all my own baking at home without these ingredients and it’s pretty easy. I also find it harder to be vegan when I travel and usually end up consuming meals with cheese, although if I had the choice not to, I would. However, I’d never starve for my beliefs.

I would eat insects if I had the opportunity and I don’t really have any ethical objections to eating shellfish, so I would probably eat shellfish if I liked the taste (which I don’t). However, there are good environmental reasons for avoiding seafood. I’m in very good health too. My weight has remained pretty much the same for 20-odd years now. All my vital signs are good. I don’t take any medication for anything and rarely go to a doctor. My only ailment is a monthly migraine. I think that on the whole, veganism has been very good for my health.

I do eat honey and I do crochet with wool so strict vegans would not call me vegan for these reasons alone. Perhaps this is why I prefer to call myself a plant-eater. The problem with having exclusive words like this is that they can be alienating. Someone may be motivated to become a vegan but the impossibility of all the “rules” makes it seem undoable and they give up.

Here’s where reducetarian comes in. Brian Kateman has come up with a new word to describe someone who wants to make a commitment to reducing their consumption of animals without promising complete abstinence – and let’s face it, any reduction in meat consumption by humans is a worthy goal. After all, the livestock sector is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transport sector; and that includes all cars, trucks, buses, planes, trains, and ships.

13 Comments

  1. …any reduction in meat consumption by humans is a worthy goal.
    I can take respite in this and call myself a reducetarian. I love to eat meat (not red meat) in limited quantity. It is hard for me to give up completely.

    1. The reducetarian word describes you quite well. I think it describes my husband too as he rarely eats meat these days but has the occasional animal for dinner when we go out.

  2. I certainly am not a vegetarian or whatever the popular name is. But I don’t eat much meat. I love vegetables even better than fruits. I have an egg maybe once a week. I reduce because of health and try to eat heart healthy. I have some vegan acquaintances who seem a little holier than thou. I don’t care what they eat or don’t. But I prefer to get my info about veganism not from them. lol

  3. My daughter is a quiet vegetarian, like you are a vegan. Her main problem comes from the meat eaters (here in SA) who feel free to attack her at any opportunity for Not eating meat! Really weird.
    It makes total sense for all humans to decrease their meat intake, as it is simply not sustainable. Reducetarian is a good start 🙂

    1. That’s really tough that your daughter gets a hard time. I’m sorry to hear it.

      It has actually been more than 10 years for me. I was trying to remember when I first stopped eating meat and it was probably about 2002. It was my family who gave me a hard time but they don’t hassle me about it so much any more now that they can see I haven’t dropped dead 🙂

      1. It’s the carnivorous SA’s – what can I say!! My daughter hasn’t eaten meat for 9 years, tho ate fish for a few years in the middle for added protein. Nowadays, you can stay very healthy without any meat.
        It is a life choice, for whatever reason, and as such, I think should be respected.

      2. It’s a bit like that in Australia too with the carnivorous Aussies! It seems like a very small thing to ask: to be free to eat what you want without being hassled.

      3. Totally agree – especially when you are not the one making a song and dance about the whole thing! She’s been to weddings before now, and quietly placed a spoon of rice on her plate, as the only non-meat option available! I also do not eat meat when out, and the “vegetarian” options are often awful!

      4. A spoon of rice as the only option is appalling! I don’t think even Australia would be that bad. It sometimes helps to let the restaurant know in advance and I’ve done that before and they usually appreciate it. I’m not sure how that would work at a wedding though.

      5. Restaurants have become much better at providing Some veggie option. Weddings – different story. What often happens is that even if there is a vegetarian pasta, all the meat eaters pile this on their plates next to their dead animal, leaving nothing left for the non-meat eaters!! No wonder vegetarians are so slim 🙂

  4. It does raise an interesting question as to the dividing line. If insects and shell fish are OK why not fish or lizards or ~ .

    I suppose we all have to chooses for ourselves and good enough that we make the endeavour.

  5. ‘Reducetarian’ or any other new term could also end up with negative connotations. Personally, I have no problem with being labelled as ‘vegan’ because it shouldn’t have political or lifestyle connotations, it is only certain people that think that it should and it is best to challenge their prejudices.

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