Many a vegan’s heart sang after learning that Mark Bittman, New York Times journalist, author and food celebrity was writing a book about a vegan diet. Finally, greater attention would be paid to veganism from one of the most respected food writers today! Interestingly, the focus of VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 is not on a vegan lifestyle. Rather, it presents nutritional information and a plan for a flexible “diet” (for lack of a better word) with accompanying recipes. Bittman himself eats this way, and has seen significant health benefits as a result. VB6 guides the reader in how to lose weight and improve health while eating a plant-based diet for breakfast and lunch, and allowing for more flexibility with dinner. Across all meals there’s room for indulgence, but the emphasis is on high-quality, unprocessed foods.
One might expect a book with “vegan” in the title to address the myriad benefits of plant-based eating (e.g. environmental sustainability, economy and animal welfare) rather than just weight loss and health. But this book isn’t designed to create vegan converts (although I hope it does). Bittman seeks to challenge your relationship with food, ultimately helping you to make changes to the way you eat, not just for a few weeks or months, but for the rest of your life. While some vegans will inevitably feel that Bittman fell short in representing a vegan diet, or communicating the full spectrum of benefits (which he did not set out to do), I am grateful he found value in the plant-based food choices he’s made for himself and sharing these valuable insights and strategies with readers.
The first part of the book, Weight Loss and Better Living, provides an overview of traditional diets and why they don’t work. Traditional diets can pathologize or demonize foods, and don’t provide a lasting path for success. Rather than something you do for two weeks or two months, Bittman describes VB6 as follows: “…VB6 is not a short-term fix but a lifestyle change that’s designed to inspire new habits by exploring the pleasures and benefits of real food.” Likely outcomes of following the VB6 diet include the enjoyment of satisfying food, reduced sugar cravings, weight loss and a lifetime of health.
The second part of the book, Making VB6 Work For You, includes a sample 28-day meal plan along with recipes. I own several of Bittman’s other books, which I enjoy for their no-frills style and emphasis on quality. The recipes in VB6 are no exception. I tried a tasty Banana Parfait recipe with mashed bananas, lemon juice, silken tofu, berries and cereal, layered in a glass for an easy, high-protein treat. Items like Baked Falafel with Tahini Sauce, Vegetable Miso Soup with Tofu and Rice, and Black Bean Tacos with Tangy Cabbage also look straightforward and delicious. All recipes provide nutritional information and many offer ingredient alternatives and substitutions.
VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 allows for individual flexibility and personalization, making the concept feel manageable, even for someone who hasn’t considered adopting a plant-based diet. I am certain that VB6 will bring improved health and weight loss to many people and has the potential to help revolutionize traditional diets.