A lessmeatarian is a person who endeavors to decrease the amount of meat in his or her diet without eliminating it completely. It is difficult to precisely describe the eating habits of a lessmeatarian because the diet focuses on changing attitudes and practices rather than a specific avoidance. The term itself is typically associated with Mark Bittman, who is thought to have coined the expression, although it is now used in many circles and the theory has been around for much longer. Lessmeatarianism is thought to be a healthier diet than one heavy in meat, and also to be better for the environment and for animals.
Meat takes significant environmental resources to produce and is not considered healthy for human beings to eat in large quantities. Some cultures have developed in such a way that meat is considered the center of every meal, leading the population to eat excessive amounts of meat. In some cases, this can be internalized to the degree that a person may not feel satisfied with a meal unless it includes meat. A lessmeatarian aims to reverse this internal fixation by making meat an option, not a necessity, for a meal. This results in positive health and environmental benefits when compared to a meat-saturated diet.
Lessmeatarian strategies may consist of avoiding meat during certain hours of the day, or on certain days of the week. Many people successfully adopt lessmeatarianism by simply exploring vegetarian cuisine, as vegetarian dishes can be satisfying even for people who still enjoy meat. Some foods that have not been altered to fit a vegetarian diet do not include meat in the first place, such as many Mediterranean dishes. Simply selecting foods like these can drastically reduce the amount of meat consumed in a day. Most people who become lessmeatarians discover that the necessary changes to their diets do not decrease quality of life, nor require significant effort to adopt.
While lessmeatarianism does not prevent animal death, as many vegetarian diets aims to accomplish, it does allow for more sustainable meat practices to be observed by farmers. It is generally thought that if a population consumes less meat, then the meat that is produced can be reasonably raised with more attention and space given to the animals. As a lessmeatarian consumer, if one is eating less meat on a regular basis, it is thought that then one can afford to buy food from farms that produce sustainable meats such as free range or cage free. Lessmeatarians aim not only to decrease meat consumption, but also to improve meat producing practices by thoughtful consumption.
Many people find vegetarianism a difficult practice to adopt because complete abolition of meat may be inconvenient and unpleasant, and it can be an enormous leap to take for someone who enjoys meat. Lessmeatarianism provides a sensible and moderate position on conscientious eating which, if adopted on a grand scale, would have drastic environmental impacts. For those who do not have ethical issue with eating meat, lessmeatarianism is a way to improve health and decrease environmental impact without making radical dietary changes.