I am so excited to have Brian Kateman, author of The Reducetarian Solution, on my Plant Chat today. I’ve known Brian for a couple of years, as we have a lot in common—we both want to do our part to encourage people to eat fewer animals and more plants. Brian coined the term “Reducetarian”—a person who is deliberately reducing his or her consumption of meat—and a global movement was born. In this book, Brian presents more than 70 original essays (mine is there, too!) from influential thinkers on how the simple act of cutting 10% or more of the meat from one’s diet can transform the life of the reader, animals, and the planet. With over 40 vegan, vegetarian, and “less meat” recipes from bestselling cookbook author Pat Crocker, as well as tons of practical tips for reducing the meat in your diet, The Reducetarian Solution is a life—not to mention planet!—saving book. Read on to learn more about my chat with Brian.
Why do you think the reducetarian concept resonates with people?
We all know that the overconsumption of animal agricultural products is destroying the environment, causing poor treatment of animals, promoting major health risks, and contributing to global crises such as world hunger. And yet, our culture has been obsessed with consuming meat. The good news is that within the developed world this trend is slowing. Not everyone is willing to follow an “all-or-nothing” diet, but the reducetarian concept offers a practical approach that anyone can take.
What kind of benefits can people gain from taking on this lifestyle?
Reducetarianism is healthy, easy, and good for the planet. With less meat and more fruits and veggies, reducetarians live longer, healthier, and happier lives. They set manageable and therefore actionable goals to gradually eat fewer animal products, and by doing so, lessen animal suffering and minimize our environmental footprint.
What made you personally become interested in this lifestyle?
I’ve always been interested in environmental issues, but it wasn’t until my studies in college that I learned about the link between animal agriculture and its impact on the environment. For example, a meat eater has twice the carbon footprint of a vegetarian, and a meat protein uses 10 times the amount of water than a plant protein. In addition to the numerous health and animal welfare benefits, eating less meat seemed like a simple way to make a big difference in the world.
What did you learn about this lifestyle when you created your book?
This book is a compilation of perspectives on eating less meat from some of the most influential world thinkers – including my hero Peter Singer, Mark Bittman the food journalist, Seth Godin the marketing genius, Bill McKibben the father of the environmental movement, and over 70 others. I like to think of this as the ultimate guide to learning about the impact of conventional animal agriculture on our world, spanning literally dozens of topics, like marketing, astronomy, health, and technology.
What are some of the most important things you advise people to do to get more “reducetarian” minded?
Strive for progress, not perfection. Incremental change is worthy of celebration, so start with simple steps such as participating in Meatless Mondays, trying plant-based alternatives like the Impossible Burger or products from Gardein and Beyond Meat, or exploring different ways to reduce meat consumption in your everyday life. Oh, and don’t be a private reducetarian – what comes out of your mouth is just as important as what goes into it. Encouraging your friends and family to join you on your reducetarian journey will help multiply your impact.
How can people support the reducetarian movement?
People can support the reducetarian movement by purchasing The Reducetarian Solution, as any proceeds go directly to our non-profit, the Reducetarian Foundation. Supporters can also take our online pledge to commit to eating less meat for a month, or share our informational graphics and videos on social media to help spread the word. Being a part of the reducetarian community builds collaboration, and helps us to focus on our collective goal to secure a healthier and more sustainable future.
Here is one of Brian’s favorite recipes from his book.
Yields 4-6 servings
Of course, you can eliminate the sugar by substituting liquid honey, brown rice syrup, coconut nectar, or pure maple syrup. They all have a distinctly different flavor, so each time you make this, try a different sugar alternative and get to know how each tastes in desserts.
- 2 cups finely chopped almonds or pecans
- 2 cups large-flake rolled oats or quinoa flakes
- ½ cup packed coconut sugar or brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons chickpea or rice flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup softened extra-virgin coconut oil or butter
- 3 tablespoons packed coconut sugar or brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons chickpea or rice flour
- 6 to 8 apples, cut into thin wedges
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin coconut oil or butter, cut into pieces
- Preheat oven to 350° F and lightly oil a 3-quart baking dish.
- In a medium bowl, combine almonds, oats, sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Using a pastry blender or your hands, work the coconut oil into the flour mixture until the pieces are about the size of peas.
- In a large bowl, combine sugar and flour. Core, peel and slice the apples into the sugar mixture and toss to mix well. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and drop oil pieces over.
- Crumble the crisp topping evenly over the fruit. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until the fruit is soft and the topping is bubbly and lightly browned.
Excerpted with permission from THE REDUCETARIAN SOLUTION: How The Surprisingly Simple Act of Reducing The Amount of Meat in Your Diet Can Transform Your Health and The Planet, edited by Brian Kateman, recipe by Pat Crocker. © 2017 by Reducetarian Foundation, Inc. TarcherPerigee, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Recipe photo by Ashleigh Amoroso. Please note that The Reducetarian Solution do not include recipe photos.