At this point, “vegetarian” and “vegan” aren’t exactly novel terms in the U.S. According to a 2012 Gallup poll, some 5 percent of Americans report that they’ve given up meat, while 2 percent have forsaken animal products entirely.
When talking about their dietary habits, people tend to speak in absolutes—they give up all meat, or all foods that come from animals; on the other end of the spectrum, they give up nothing at all. But there’s a wide berth between the enthusiastic carnivore and the vegetarian, and many people lack the vocabulary to describe the many, many food different choices that exist within those shades of gray.
Terms like “flexitarian,” “climatarian,” and “reducetarian” all share a central focus on eating fewer animal products, but as the people who claim these labels will tell you, each has its own definition as distinct as that of “vegetarian.” A flexitarian is someone who rarely, though occasionally, consumes meat, including red meat, poultry, and seafood. A climatarian is someone who eats less meat—especially the most energy-consuming meats, like beef and lamb—specifically for environmental reasons. Meanwhile, a reducetarian (a term I coined) is someone who makes an effort to eat less meat, no matter the motivation, or degree of reduction (this is also inclusive of vegans and vegetarians who have reduced their meat consumption so effectively they eat none at all).