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Want to eat less meat? Here’s the book to give you the resolve.

May 15, 2017

Whether it’s for health reasons, environmental concerns, or a little of both, many of us have tried to boost the plant-to-meat ratio on our plates over the past few years, sometimes in vain (meat is, in a word, delicious). Editor Brian Kateman has collected more than 70 essays from thought leaders on exactly why it’s so vital to our health and our planet for us to cut back on meat consumption.

The cutting-back approach is key: This isn’t about pushing vegetarianism or even more stringent veganism, but rather scaling down the amount of meat each of us consumes, while upping our intake of more sustainable and healthful grains and produce. Reducetarian isn’t reductive, and its message isn’t a Smithian “Meat is Murder,” but as contributor Bill McKibben puts it in his essay, “meat is precious and something to be used sparingly.” Done correctly, it won’t lead to feeling deprived, but rather more fulfilled in all senses—physically, intellectually, and spiritually. Accordingly, the essays are split into three sections—Mind, Body, and Planet—to address the current hurdles and potential rewards for each in this endeavor.

The essays span from the global to the granular, sometimes both in one, as with “An Uncertain Phosphorous Future" by University of Edinborough researcher Will Brownie. And if that title sounds dry and technical, I assure you the inherent drama amps up mighty fast. It’s a rare essay that can hold my interest on phosphorous, much less make me genuinely worry about the planet’s supply—this one did the trick. In the Mind section, Marta Zaraska, author of Meathooked, explores “Why We Crave Meat in the First Place,” while Nick Cooney offers “Three Mental Hacks to Help You Become a Reducetarian,” examples of the book’s ability to both fully size up the challenge we face, and offer practical solutions.

The book’s last section features recipes for dishes like Eat the Rainbow Pizza, Sweet Potato Fritters, and Vegetable Risotto designed to entice reluctant, meat-dependent palates. But if you happened to be on the fence about a diet change before the book, the collective impact of the brief but powerful essays will be sure to change that.

The Reducetarian Solution, Edited and Curated by Brian Kateman, TarcherPerigee, $16