Reducetarian is the term coined for people who have become aware of the benefits of veganism but have chosen to not completely cut animal products from their diets. A reducetarian may participate in Meatless Monday, only eat meat on weekends or find some other way to reduce their animal product intake. As animal rights activists, we are all well aware of the horrors of the factory farming industry. For many of us, this awareness imposes a sense of responsibility to educate others. However, educating people and convincing them to follow a vegan lifestyle can sometimes prove to be difficult. The Standard American Diet is full of animal products and most people think they are comfortable with their lifestyles.
Oftentimes veganism is seen as an exclusive all or nothing lifestyle. Although this lifestyle is obviously the best option for the planet as a whole, it can be seen as intimidating to someone who is not familiar with the lifestyle. How many times have we heard non-vegans say, “Oh that’s so sad, but I could never give up…”? Right there they are immediately writing off even giving the lifestyle a try. They see it as an impossible task for themselves. This is where reducetarianism comes in. It gives people the option to explore the lifestyle without the burden of a long-term change. Most people can commit to giving up something one day a week or even reserving meat eating for weekends. After gradually reducing their meat intake, one may be more open to being a full-time vegan.
Many mainstream vegan groups use this effective method. The Humane League heavily promotes their meatless Monday campaign. Jack Norris, president of Vegan Outreach once said, “go vegan except for cheese.” This approach also keeps people vegan longer. Some people may feel that if they decide to go vegan and then eat meat once, that they must give up the lifestyle because it is not for them. Reducetarianism keeps them from getting discouraged so easily. The largest study on vegans conducted by Faunalytics, found that current vegetarians and vegans were more likely to have transitioned gradually than former vegetarians and vegans.
As a vegan (full-time) and an animal rights activist, it may be hard to accept reducetarianism as ethical. A reducetarian is aware of the harmfulness of factory farming. They even understand it enough to change their lifestyle but do not want to commit. Although we may feel this way, it is important to see the bigger picture. Does reducetarianism still harm the human body, animals, and the environment? Yes, it does. But as activists, trying to convince people to change, we must embrace this reducetarian lifestyle as a temporary necessary evil. While people are exploring veganism through being a reducetarian they are educating themselves. They are learning to “veganize” their favorite foods, explore new foods, and slowly but surely discovering the benefits of the lifestyle. Although complete veganism is the main goal, even small steps towards a vegan lifestyle should still be celebrated.