There’s no escaping the reality of how human life and unchecked consumption has affected our planet. Many have already chosen to stray off the beaten path in terms of how they eat in order to improve the future and provide a more sustainable future. Through diets such as veganism, raw food, and fruitarianism, people are choosing to eat better and more conscientiously. But if those choices don’t fit your lifestyle does that mean you are doomed to feel guilty every time you sit down to dinner? Hopefully not, because that’s where reducitarian living comes in.

Eating ‘healthy’ can be a nightmare for those who are dealing with chronic conditions, allergies, hectic lifestyles, or even a lack of access to fresh food. Reducitarian living takes into account that each person has to deal with many factors and that living a sustainable life isn’t an all-or-nothing affair. Simply cutting out animal products completely isn’t feasible for everyone, so when you commit to being a reducitarian, you’re simply promising to make small changes to improve human health, protect the environment, and spare farm animals from cruelty by reducing societal consumption of animal products.

The term was coined in 2014 by Brian Kateman – an evolutionary biologist and co-founder of the reducitarian lifestyle – as a solution to the overwhelming societal pressure he felt when trying to be vegan or vegetarian. He believed that people often give up and feel disheartened when they can’t follow these diets religiously, so gave them the option to make a change on their own terms.

Like the term itself, the lifestyle is flexible. You can choose to drastically reduce your red meat consumption, cut out dairy products, and abstain from all animal products. Or you could simply have one less meat-inclusive meal a week. The theory is that no matter how big or small the change if you can do it consistently, the cumulative effects will contribute to a more sustainable future. 

Also Read: 5 Reasons Why Veganism Is The New Food Trend

Here are 4 reasons people choose to be reducitarian:

For the environment

Animal agriculture is estimated to produce over 500 tons of manure each year and the meat industry for more than 20% of greenhouse gas emissions globally. Deforestation, water shortages and a decline in biodiversity – all can be attributed to animal agriculture. 

For the animals

70 billion factory-farmed animals are killed each year and over 200 million pounds of dead fish are discarded as by-catch on nearly a daily basis. 

For their health

Plant-based food can help counter the harmful effects of eating red meat, by naturally providing you with all the vitamins and minerals you need without upping your cholesterol.

For the good of others

Food wastage is all around us and essential grain supplies are often diverted to countries with more animals to feed. It’s estimated that if all food crops went directly to human consumption instead of animals, around 70% more food would be added to the global supply.