“Aren’t you a vegetarian?” he asked somewhat sheepishly.

I explained to him that I wasn’t a vegetarian but was eating more sustainable, plant-based meals and was gradually decreasing my meat consumption to lower my environmental footprint. He shared that he also had been cutting down on meat but had difficulty explaining his efforts to others.

From conversations that we’ve had with friends and colleagues, we realized we weren’t alone. There was a growing community of individuals who knew that large-scale meat production and consumption was responsible for a significant amount of global greenhouse gas emissions, water usage and deforestation.

The elimination game

And yet they weren’t able or willing to completely eliminate meat from their diet. Some enjoyed the taste of meat; others didn’t want to make a drastic lifestyle change. So they took the advice of Michael Pollan: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” They relied on useful strategies like “meatless Monday” and “vegan before six” to eat less meat for the benefit of themselves and for their environment.

They knew eating less meat made a meaningful difference, but they still struggled to describe their eating choices, particularly to vegans and vegetarians, the modern-day pioneers of abstaining from meat.

Reduce and restore

My friend and I realized there was a need for a term for people like us, people who take action to reduce their meat consumption, no matter the degree. After many brainstorming sessions, in the summer of 2014 we finally came up with the term “reducetarian” to describe a person who is simply committed to eating less meat.

The reducetarian movement is composed of individuals who are committed to eating less meat — red meat, poultry and seafood. It challenges the notion that the only way to reap the benefits of reducing meat consumption is to eliminate meat from our lives entirely and recognizes that people are at different stages of willingness and commitment to eating less meat.

This new perspective provides everyone with a platform — not just vegans and vegetarians — to make small choices to eat less meat in their own lives and collectively to make huge differences in the world.

Hungry? The “Reducetarian Solution” author offers four simple, yet delicious, recipes that will help you reduce your meat intake and leave you more satsified by the end of your meal.

Buffalo cauliflower

Here’s a tasty way to replace chicken wings. Heat up the action off the field during the Super Bowl with these cheesy-spicy bites. You can use ½ cup sunflower seeds in place of the cheese for a vegan option. This recipe makes 4 light servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cauliflower, cut into 1‑inch florets

  • 1. teaspoons sea salt, divided

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin coconut oil or olive oil

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon Garam Masala Spice Blend

  • ½ cup large-flake rolled oats

  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly oil an 11 by 17‑inch roasting pan.

2. Place the cauliflower in a large saucepan and cover with water. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and boil just until stems are tender-crisp, 5 minutes. Drain, rinse with cool water, and drain again. Set aside.

3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and fragrant, about 6 minutes. Add the pepper, garlic, and spice blend. Cook, stirring frequently, 2 minutes. Turn the heat off and add the oats and remaining salt. Toss to mix well.

4. Toss the cauliflower and onion mixture in the prepared pan until combined. Roast about 10 minutes or until the edges start to darken. Sprinkle with cheese if using and return to the oven for 2 minutes or until the cheese has melted.

Cheesy apple pancakes

These puffy griddlecakes are easy and fast and satisfyingly good. Serve piping hot with fresh fruit or frozen yogurt for dessert, or add a dollop of the ricotta cheese with slices of banana and drizzle with maple syrup for a hearty breakfast. For lunch or dinner, smear them a pesto or bean spread and top with thinly sliced carrot, cucumber, cabbage, and red onion and serve with a salad. For a totally leftover lunch, place a spoonful of any leftover main dish in the center, roll up, and eat like a burrito. This recipe makes 6 to 8 pancakes.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup drained ricotta or cottage cheese

  • 1 apple, shredded

  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • ½ cup whole wheat or all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 300°F.

2. Combine the cheese, apple, eggs, maple syrup, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Whisk with a fork until well mixed.

3. Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Pour the cheese mixture into the flour mixture and whisk with a fork just until incorporated. Do not over mix.

4. Lightly oil a griddle or large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Scoop the batter using a ¼ cup measure (for small cakes) or ½ cup measure (for medium cakes) and scrape onto the hot griddle, spreading each pancake to about ½-inch thickness. Cook until the bottom is golden and large bubbles form on the uncooked side, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook the remaining side until golden, about 2 minutes.

5. Remove cooked pancakes to a plate, cover with foil, and keep warm in preheated oven. Repeat step 4 using remaining batter.

Mushrooms on toast

This is my go-to recipe for lunch or a light dinner when time and creative effort are at a low. It will be on the table in less than 20 minutes, and everyone in my house loves it. You can add, and heat through, 1 cup of cooked legumes at the end of step 3. This recipe makes 4 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • ¼ red cabbage, chopped

  • ½ red bell pepper, chopped

  • 1 cayenne pepper, finely chopped, optional

  • 5 cups chopped mushrooms

  • 2 garlic cloves

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

  • 4 slices whole grain, wheat, or gluten-free bread

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft, 5 minutes. Add the cabbage, bell pepper, and cayenne pepper if using. Cook, stirring frequently, about 3 minutes.

  2. Stir in the mushrooms, garlic, rosemary, and salt and cook, stirring frequently until the mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, toast the bread and place it on plates. Divide the mushroom mixture evenly into 4 portions and spoon over the toast.

Roasted beet soup 

Roasting all vegetables, but especially beets, is one of the tastiest ways to cook them. To prepare beets for cooking, scrub well using a vegetable brush. Trim away the top and bottom and, using a vegetable peeler, remove the top one third of the rough skin. This recipe makes 4 to 6 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium beets, prepared (see recipe introduction) and quartered

  • 2 carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks

  • 1 onion, quartered

  • 1 parsnip, cut into 1-inch chunks

  • 6 unpeeled cloves garlic

  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil

  • ¼ cup chopped fresh dill

  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

  • 1 can (28-oz) chopped tomatoes and juices

  • 2 cups vegetable broth

  • 1 cup shredded cabbage

  • ¾ cup sour cream, optional

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Toss the beets, carrots, onion, parsnip, garlic, and oil in a large bowl until combined. Spread the vegetables in one layer on one or two rimmed baking sheets. Roast until tender, about 40 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and dill.

2. Meanwhile, place the tomatoes, their juices, and the broth in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the cabbage, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is soft, about 12 minutes. Squeeze the roasted garlic into the tomato mixture, discarding the skins. Stir in the roasted vegetables.

3. Remove the pan from the heat. Using an immersion blender, purée the vegetables until smooth, or, working in batches, transfer the soup to a blender container or food processor bowl and process until smooth. Return the soup to the pan and heat through. Garnish each serving with 2 tablespoons of sour cream if desired.

Apple crisp

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. This recipe makes 4 to 6 servings.

Ingredients for Crisp Topping:

  • 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

Ingredients for Apple Filling:

  • 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

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350° F and lightly oil a 3-quart baking dish.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.