Monday, June 17, 2013

VB6 for Meatless Monday

VB6: eat vegan before 6:00 to lose weight and restore your health... for good / Mark Bittman
New York: Clarkson, c2013.
276 p.

I recently read this one, interested because I've been vegetarian for over 20 years, and have been eating more and more vegan-like, though I am definitely not a strict vegan at this point. I wanted to see what Mark Bittman, a food writer and carnivore, had to say. His doctor stated that at age 57 he had the beginnings of poor health, and suggested that the best solution was to become vegan.

So Bittman came up with the VB6 plan, something he thinks is both healthy and practicable for those who don't choose to take up the vegan lifestyle for philosophical reasons. The idea is that for most of the day you eat a vegan diet, and after six, during that dinner hour that most people find hardest to change, you can eat meat,dairy, and sweets, but in moderation. Bittman thinks that dinner is about much more than food; it's about community and sociability, and to tell yourself that you can no longer eat or drink familiar foods with your friends and family will doom you from the beginning.

The six key points of this way of eating (he hesitates to call it a "diet") are as follows:

1. Eat fruit and vegetables in abundance
2. Eat fewer animal products
3. Eat (almost) no junk food
4. Cook at home as much as possible
5. Consider quality over quantity
6. See your weight as just one component of good health

Each of these elements is then further discussed, with tips on how to make them work for you. The second half of the book is broken up into recipes for different times of day: breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner, and one on some basic "building block" staples. The dinner chapter is almost entirely meat dishes, but the rest are, obviously, vegan.

To someone starting down this path, I think this book would be very useful. I know people who have been put off the idea of veganism when it was suggested by their doctors because everything they read focused on animal rights, not a concept in their purview at all. Bittman's focus on the health aspect (even while he does mention the environmental and animal costs of factory farming) is one that might be more easily assimilated by those new to vegan eating. The recipes are simple and basic, using familiar foods, with tips on how to add flavour with herbs & spices and cooking techniques.

While as a longtime vegetarian, this book didn't teach me anything very new, I appreciated the way Bittman presented vegan eating, and know that I'll be recommending this to one of those "you should become vegan" people I know! Eating less of processed, animal products in any way is a good thing.


  1. Terrific post today! It's not that difficult to eat like a vegan, at least on a part-time basis. I've started to use coconut oil instead of butter on toast. It's a small change, but worth it, I think.

    1. Thanks, Suko! Yes, I think small changes make a big difference, and they are more easily made by beginners, especially. I know that moving away from dairy has been a gradual process for me, step by step...


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