Is Reducetarian the new balanced diet?

For the past twelve days I have been vegan.  Well that’s not technically true.  I have been 98% vegan, except for the duck breast I had on a salad one evening and the wagyu burger I had last night I have avoided all animal products for almost a fortnight.

As a committed meat eater this is a big thing for me.  The whys will be in a blog post later this week but to say it has been a revelation would be an understatement.   I feel so much better for it, and have now been pondering whether I could be a vegan for good.   The trouble is though, being a vegan, or a vegetarian is cut and dried.  You either are, or you aren’t.    One of my most treasured possessions (okay four of my most treasured possessions) are my Mulberry handbags and purse, if was suddenly to declare myself a vegan I would have to stop using them.   I don’t want to stop using them though, they are treasured, the result of Mr B’s hard work, and his desire to spoil me.

So can I have a leather handbag, and call myself vegan?  Well it looks like I can actually.   There is a new movement called Reducetarian and I found them online when I was wondering if there was such a thing as a Monday to Friday vegan, or a weekend veggie.   They say there is.    Brian Kateman is the co-founder of the movement and in a recent article in the Guardian it says:

He grew up eating steaks and buffalo wings, but as a student decided to go vegetarian. When his sister called him out for eating a small piece of turkey at Thanksgiving, he explained his decision wasn’t about being “perfect”; it was just about trying to eat as many foods as possible that were good for his body and good for the planet.

“I’m a utilitarian,” he says. “I’m more interested in outcomes than processes. The reason people eat less meat isn’t for some badge, some public status, it’s because it has a meaningful impact on the world.”

And that pretty much nails my current thinking, though selfishly this  isn’t about having a meaningful impact on the world right now, though obviously I do care about that (I was a vegetarian for about two years as a teenager.  Whilst engaged to a butcher.  Long story), what I care about more right now is feeling better physically.   For over two years I have had shocking physical health, relentless daily headaches and chronic fatigue syndrome to name but two.      By cutting out meat and dairy (and booze, caffeine and wheat) I have felt better than I have done in years.   I am also the lightest I have been in ten years.

Whilst still eating huge amounts of food (including a takeaway curry) I have lost 10kgs in ten days.  Not pounds, kilos.    My skin looks brighter, my hair is shinier, I am more awake and feel like in less of a fug.  Yes, I have also been drinking more water so that will contribute towards this glow but on the whole I think cutting out meat and dairy has had quite a profound effect.

My diet now consists of much more fruit and veg than it has ever done.  By avoiding meat I have to make a really conscious decision about what I will eat.  Meat is a convenience food, invariably it is quick to eat and avoiding it means you have to plan a bit more, buy more fruit and veg and prepare them for lunch and not just shove two bits of a ham in between two slices of bread.  It is a far more balanced diet if you cram your plate with fruits, vegetables and pulses rather than a simple lump of meat and some potatoes.   A prepared salad of giant couscous and roast veg from M&S rather than a hot sausage roll.

But can I keep it up?  Well I am determined to give it a go, to avoid meat as much as possible, but at the same time taking that pragmatic approach that Kateman talked about.  I don’t want to have to tell my friends that I am vegan and therefore hard to cater for when we go for dinner, or be sitting in a restaurant thinking “I really fancy the smoked salmon but should have the kale burger because our friends think I am vegan”.  I want to be able to have a bit more flexibility when the decision isn’t mine or have the steak when I want the steak.      To have a barbecue with the family once a month, and eat Christmas dinner and pork pie on Boxing Day and not feel guilty about it.

Having those things doesn’t make me a failed vegan, it makes me a reducetarian and I quite like the sound of that.

Plus I get to keep the handbags

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

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  • I love the sound of that… We are so spoilt in this country with great choice and some amazing produce so it’s quite easy to leave the meat part out, but I enjoy eating meat from time to time, so this sounds like a healthy, good for the planet solution!

  • I really should try to eat more fruit and veg. I’m terrible and a fussy eater. But I reckon I could give something like this a try. The idea of being a full-on vegan or vegetarian terrifies me.

  • LOVE this! I desperately want to try the vegan thing and know I will feel so much better but, like you, don’t want it to define me. Love the thought of this. Been tempted to do the vegan thing for a while so maybe I’ll just go for it! xxxx

    • You should!! I know you were talking about it a while ago so you could totally do it. It’s what I am doing now. Vegan when I can but if I go out and fancy a steak, well hell to the yes I am having steak. And chips.

      But the following day it will be back to quinoa and cous cous my friend

  • I like that idea too!

    I also love the word fug, because it completely describes my mental state at this point in time. My problem is time. I just don’t have time to be making salads and it’s too expensive to buy them ready prepped, so I end up with coffee and whatever else I can grab from the cupboard and eat on the go.

  • Big well done T on making some positive changes to change your eating and ultimately get healthier. This cleanse seems to be a fabulous way to kick start a better way of eating for good. Mich x

  • This sounds wonderful, it’s great to hear how much you’ve benefitted. I have been pescetarian for over 20 years but still eat a huge amount of cheese.

    Can I ask what you have for breakfast? Most of my breakfasts involve some form of dairy or eggs and I’m curious to know what a vegan and wheat free breakfast looks like.

  • I’m not the perfect vegan either.When money is tight and I’m making home made pizza, cheddar cheese wins.Many vegans see it as a journey. It should in no way make you feel that you should feel guilt for having things around you from the past. We just move forward, looking at ways to decrease our use of animals.I am really proud of you.I wish I could loose that much so quickly.

  • I’ve heard the term ‘flexitarian’ too, which I’m all for.

    ‘Meat-Free-Mondays’ were the start I think and for those of us who can’t bear the thought of giving up a weekend bacon-buttie I think this is the way forward! x

  • IVe been so impressed with how you’ve turned your life around in such a short period of time and had such amazing results. I know I eat too much meat, it’s high time I searched for new ways to enjoy food.