Suivre l’auteur

I’ve been following this type of lifestyle since last year and I’ve lost nearly 100 pounds so far. I didn’t have to wait on this book because Bittman has openly shared his VB6 lifestyle for a few years, and I’ve read every article and blog post with interest. I couldn’t wait to get hold of his new book and I ordered the Kindle version at midnight when it was released.
VB6 is informative and inspiring. It provides the basis for a very liveable lifestyle that has the potential to turn your life around, just as it did mine. The book includes a 28 day menu plan to get you started, complete with a variety of delicious recipes. Weekly wildcards let you bend away from plants if you are in a pinch or social situation that requires it.
The recipes range from simple to complex, but none require special skills or hard to find ingredients. The recipes include more nutrition info than most other healthy cookbook provides. They include calories, cholesterol, fat, sat fats, protein, carbs, sodium, fiber, trans fats, and sugar.
I’ve lived a plant strong lifestyle, but not 100% plants, for the last decade. I still ate cheese and other dairy products. I ate seafood a few times a year. I also ate a lot of junk. Processed foods, too many grains, and way too much sugar. Definitely not enough vegetables. I battled my weight and felt terrible.
I strongly dislike labels such as vegan and vegetarian. Labels give some people reason to judge others and their dietary choices, which is really just silly. They also evoke guilt and confusion when someone struggles to conform. This is NOT a book about being vegan. VB6 is not about perfection or 100% adherence to a specific plan. It’s about making better choices that we can live with.
If you’ve read Food Matters, another book by Bittman, then you are already familiar with the concept behind this lifestyle. Both books go into detail about how consuming excessive animal products can potentially damage not only our health, but also our environment. Either book, in my opinion, should be read by everyone who is concerned about their health and/or the planet. The statistics in the book are both shocking and depressing. However, the lifestyle changes suggested also offer hope and new possibilities.
Aside from doing my part for the environment, VB6 has allowed me to make dramatic changes with my health. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve lost a lot of weight with this lifestyle. I still have a way to go before I reach my goal, but I have no doubt that I’ll make it. Why? Because this is easy. It’s the easiest thing I’ve ever done, and I’m 51 years old.
The first principle of the VB6 philosophy is to eat fruit and vegetables in abundance. I eat a LOT of vegetables and fruits every day. Bittman suggests that as we eat more fruits and veggies, we will naturally shift away from animal products and junk. I found that to be true in my case. I even snack on spinach, which is something I would have never done a few years ago. I eat large amounts of green veggies, and I always eat the rainbow.
I initially spent a lot of time planning my meals and prepping veggies. This became easier with time and experience. I have also learned to like a lot of foods that I never enjoyed before. Bittman suggests trying new vegetables, and lets us know we may not like everything we try. That’s ok. We’ll still end up expanding our menu as our tastes change. It’s been well worth the extra effort to adapt to this lifestyle.
Every meal is filling and delicious. I slip away from a pure plant diet at dinner when I add wild caught fish or other seafood to my meal. I really love seafood and missed it when I tried to conform to a more strict veg diet. If I really want a little cheese or other dairy then I’ll eat it. Guilt free. I eat what I want to eat. The difference is that I no longer want the foods I used to eat. I crave healthy food! I cook from scratch and don’t buy packaged, processed foods anymore. I avoid or limit added sugar. I can’t even remember the last time I ate a potato chip. My favorite snack or dessert now is fresh fruit. With VB6 I could eat a little of those things with dinner if I wanted them, but I honestly no longer want them anymore.
Bittman points out that weight is only one component of our health. My fasting blood glucose levels used to average between 100 and 120 before I changed my lifestyle. Now they average in the 70s! My energy level is unbelievable and I never get tired. My skin even looks better. I exercise every day and I have the energy to stick with it.
I no longer have to struggle to explain my dietary lifestyle to people. No, I’m not vegan. I’m not even vegetarian. It’s so much easier to just say I follow a VB6 lifestyle. Maybe that’s a label I can live with.

VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 by Mark Bittman (2013): What to eat and foods to avoid

VB6 (2013) is a weight loss book that encourages you to restrict what you eat before 6pm every day of the week, and to eat more freely late at night

  • Eat vegan before 6pm, mostly produce
  • After 6pm, you can also eat animal protein and slightly processed foods
  • Try to avoid more processed foods – if you do have them, limit them to after 6pm
  • Time of cutoff depends on your lifestyle – your evening meal is your trigger for freer eating

Below is a description of the food recommendations in the book. Summary | Unlimited foods | Flexible foods | Treats | Foods to drastically limit. There’s a lot more in the book.

Get a copy of VB6 for a description of why the VB6 diet works, how to make it work for you, meal plans, and recipes

Order The VB6 Cookbook for “More than 350 Recipes for Healthy Vegan Meals All Day and Delicious Flexitarian Dinners at Night”

The reasoning behind VB6

The book argues that we should eat more real, wholesome foods – when we eat a lot of foods with a low caloric density, such as fruits and vegetables, we can lose weight. Animal food production is unsustainable, and we should have less of it but higher quality. Processed foods are bad for us and bad for the environment.

VB6 diet plan – food list

Start the plan for 28 days, and preferably continue it as a lifelong diet

It’s about doing your best to nourish yourself with real, wholesome foods most of the time and not beating yourself up when you don’t. As long as you’re committed to that, the occasional trip-up is not a big deal

  • Eat mostly unlimited foods, all times of the day – vegetables, fruits, seasonings
  • Eat some flexible foods, all times of the day – beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds, oils
  • After 6pm (or whenever you have dinner), you can eat treats – meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, quality processed carbs, quality desserts
  • Highly processed foods should be drastically limited, and eaten only after 6pm

Unlimited foods

Eat freely and luxuriously from this category:

  • Vegetables
    • Cabbage-like vegetables and greens – bok choy (and other Asian greens), broccoli, broccoli rabe, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, chicory, collards, dandelion, endive, escarole, kale, all lettuce and salad greens, spinach, watercress
    • Nightshades – bell peppers, chiles, eggplant, tomatillos, tomatoes
    • Stalk or stem vegetables – artichokes, asparagus, cactus, cardoons, celery, fennel, kohlrabi, mushrooms
    • Edible-pod legumes – green and wax beans, snap peas, snow peas
    • Root vegetables and tubers – beets, carrots, celery root, jícama, parsnips, radishes, rutabaga, sweet potatoes, turnips, yams
    • Summer squashes – pattypan squash, yellow squash, zucchini
    • Winter squashes – acorn, butternut, delicata, kabocha, pumpkin, spaghetti
    • Aromatics – garlic, ginger, leeks, onions, scallions, shallots
    • Sprouts – alfalfa, bean sprouts, lentil, radish, soy, wheat
    • Sea vegetables – seaweeds and sea beans
  • Fruits
    • Citrus – clementines, grapefruit, lemons, limes, mandarins, oranges, tangerines, tangelos
    • Melons – cantaloupe, casaba, honeydew, watermelon
    • Berries – blueberries, strawberries, etc.
    • Stone and tree fruits – apples, apricots, cherries, figs, nectarines, pears, peaches, plums
    • Tropicals – bananas and plantains, kiwi, mango, papaya, pineapple
    • Any other fresh fruit
  • Condiments and seasonings
    • Salt and pepper
    • Fresh herbs, e.g. basil, chives, cilantro, dill, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme, etc.
    • Dried herbs, e.g. marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme
    • Vinegars – e.g. balsamic vinegar, sherry vinegar, wine vinegars
    • Mustard – whole-grain and/or Dijon style; mustards without added sugars (like honey mustard)
    • Horseradish
    • Salsa (without fat) – get the good stuff in jars, not cans
    • Hot sauces, including srirachas and sambals
    • Pickles – any vegetable, as long as the brine is unsweetened – e.g. sauerkraut, roasted red peppers, olives, capers – wherever possible in glass containers instead of plastic and cans
    • Soy sauce – the real stuff
    • Miso – any color
    • Spices and spice blends – e.g. cardamom, chili powder, cumin, curry powder, fennel seeds, fines herbes, garam masala, ginger, jerk seasoning, mustard, nutmeg, pimentón (smoked paprika)
    • Worcestershire sauce, fish sauce/nam pla – not technically vegan, but the amount of animal products they contain is trivial

Categorizations are taken from the book

Flexible foods

These foods provide important nutrients, but they are generally more calorie dense than fruits, vegetables, condiments, and seasonings. Eat them sparingly at breakfast, lunch, or in snacks; after 6pm you have more latitude with the foods in this category

  • Beans/legumes
    • E.g. black beans, black-eyed peas, cannellini, chickpeas/garbanzos, cranberry beans, fava beans, flageolets, gigante beans, great northern beans, kidney beans, lentils, lima beans, mung beans, navy beans, pinto beans, soy beans, white beans
    • Tofu or silken tofu, tempeh
  • Whole grains
    • Amaranth, barley (hulled not pearled), brown rice (all kinds), buckwheat groats and kasha, bulgur, cornmeal, cracked wheat, farro, grits, hominy, kamut, millet, oats (all kinds except instant), polenta, quinoa, rye berries, wheat berries, wild rice
    • Whole wheat or whole grain bread, whole wheat or other whole-grain pasta, whole wheat couscous, whole-grain crackers (minimally processed, little or no fat)
    • Seitan
  • Flexible fruits and vegetables
    • Avocadoes, coconut
    • Corn, peas, potatoes (all kinds), tropical tubers (like cassava, taro, and yucca)
    • 100% fruit and vegetable juices
  • Nuts and seeds
    • Almonds, cashews, hazelnuts/filberts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts
    • Chia seeds, flax seeds, poppy seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds
  • Oils
    • Choose minimally processed, flavorful, unsaturated fats
    • Olive oil
    • Nut oils, sesame oil
    • Grapeseed oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil, or other vegetable oils
  • Sweet condiments and sweeteners
    • Almond milk, coconut milk, hazelnut milk, nut milks, oat milk, rice milk, soy milk
    • A-1 sauce, barbecue sauce, ketchup
    • Relishes and chow-chows, sweet pickles
    • Honey (not technically vegan), maple syrup (grade B packs the most punch), sugar (turbinado is the least processed)
  • Baking ingredients
    • Baking powder, baking soda
    • Yeast
    • Whole wheat and other whole-grain flours e.g. brown rice flour
    • Cornmeal, polenta
    • Nut flours
  • Dried fruits
    • Apricots, cranberries, dates, figs, pineapple, raisins, etc.
    • Keep portions small, and reserve these for special occasions or as additions to salads, bean dishes, pilafs, and desserts

Coffee isn’t mentioned, although it’s vegan – tea is recommended


Eat these after 6pm, but don’t eat them nearly as often, or in as large quantities, as you used to

  • Meats, including
    • Chicken, duck, goose, pheasant, quail, turkey, and other poultry/birds
    • Beef, lamb, pork, and other meats
    • Venison and other game meats
    • Smoked and cured meats – like bacon, hams, salamis, sausages, etc.
    • Try to think of meat as a garnish rather than a centerpiece
    • Choose the best quality
  • Eggs
    • Eggs and products made with eggs, like custard and mayonnaise
  • Dairy
    • Hard cheeses – cheddar, manchego, Parmesan, and other aged and dried cheeses
    • Soft cheeses – aged mozzarella, blue cheeses, brie, feta, Monterey Jack, Muenster
    • Fresh cheeses – fresh goat cheeses, fresh mozzarella, mascarpone, quark, ricotta
    • Milk, butter, cream, sour cream, buttermilk, crème fraîche
    • Yogurt – preferably plain; the fat content doesn’t matter
    • Best: real milk and cream, plain cultured yogurt, and well-made, flavorful cheeses
  • Fish and seafood
    • Thick fish fillets – bass, char, cod, hake, halibut, salmon, striped bass, etc.
    • Thin fish fillets – catfish, flounder, mackerel, tilapia, trout
    • Fish steaks – halibut, salmon (wild is best), swordfish
    • Small-to-medium whole fish – anchovies, mackerel, porgies, sardines, smelt, whiting
    • Shellfish and mollusks – clams, crab, crawfish, langoustines, lobster, mussels, octopus, shrimp, squid
    • Canned or jarred fish are fine
    • It’s difficult to recommend eating fish very frequently because of sustainability issues – check the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch listings
    • Wild is probably better than farmed/aquaculture
  • Quality processed carbs
    • White pasta
    • White rice – e.g. basmati, jasmine, short grain
    • Rice noodles
    • Good white breads – the crusty, airy kind from a good baker
    • Egg breads – brioche, challah, and the like
    • Sandwich breads, focaccia
    • Pizza
    • White flour – unbleached – for breading and other baking
    • Crackers – whether they’re gluten-free, whole grain, other otherwise, they’re still treats
  • Fats
    • Implied in the book – vegetable-based saturated fats like coconut oil and palm oil should be limited, presumably as “treats”
  • Alcohol
    • Definitely off limits during the day, and up to you at night
    • If you’re seriously trying to lose weight, very limited drinking – or none at all – is something you should consider
  • Dessert
    • A small piece of cake is almost always just as good as a big one
    • Choose good-quality, preferably homemade, sweet treats – or a piece of dark chocolate or caramel – over a bag of supermarket cookies
    • After a week or so eating VB6, you may find that your cravings for sugar will be sharply diminished

Drastically limit

These foods should only be eaten during “treat” times, and only very occasionally if at all

Eat (almost) no junk food

Foods with more than five ingredients count as hyper-processed

  • Dairy
    • Processed cheese and sugary flavored yogurt
  • Fats
    • Avoid hydrogenated fats like vegetable shortening
  • Fast food
    • Be selective and resist temptation
  • Protein, granola, or so-called diet bars
    • Just eat real candy instead – it will feel more like dessert, it is likely to contain more real food, and might even have fewer calories
  • Frozen meals
    • Microwave dinner, Hot Pockets, etc.
    • Including “diet” ones
  • Chips
    • All kinds – fried, baked, or otherwise
  • Packaged salty snacks
    • Especially super-salty powdery snacks like Cheetos, Doritos, and Pringles
  • Processed bread
  • Soda or sweetened beverages
    • Including energy drinks, Gatorade, and sweet tea
    • Diet drinks probably aren’t good for you, either
  • Packaged desserts
    • Packaged cookies, doughnuts, fruit roll-ups, Twinkies, etc.
  • Sugary cereal
    • Most packaged cereal
    • Even so-called healthy options and granola are filled with sugar

Health benefits claimed in VB6

The diet in this book claims to reduce the risks for: type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high blood sugar / hypoglycemia, metabolic syndrome, overweight/obesity, prediabetes, stroke

As always, this is not intended to be a replacement for professional medical diagnosis or treatment for a medical condition. Consult your doctor before starting a new diet. This page describes what the authors of the diet recommend – Chewfo is describing the diet only, and does not endorse it.

Get a copy of VB6 for a description of why the VB6 diet works, how to make it work for you, meal plans, and recipes

Diet book
Order The VB6 Cookbook for “More than 350 Recipes for Healthy Vegan Meals All Day and Delicious Flexitarian Dinners at Night”

How has this diet worked for you? Please add a comment below.

Confessions of a part-time vegan: How changing my diet changed my life

I think a roast chicken is proof of heaven. If I were on death row, my last meal would involve unlimited melted cheese. And you’ll have to pry the butter out of my cold, dead, incredibly greasy hands. But I’ve learned recently that just as surely as you can be an atheist for a year, you can be a part-time vegan. I know because, God help me, I’ve become one.

I’ve spent my adult life as a reasonably active person and a reasonably healthy eater. I haven’t consumed fast food since college; I stay away from processed food; I drink about one soda a year. I’m in many ways your typical yoga-doing, farmer’s market-shopping lady cliché, and I’m fine with that. The payoff of being that particular cliché had always been that I’ve had plenty of energy, kept my weight in check and rarely come down with whatever gross bug was going around.


Then a few months ago, my usual habits seemed to stop working. It wasn’t just that my pants were suddenly a little tighter – I know and accept that certain shifts are inevitable with time. I was more concerned with how I was feeling. I was having a harder and harder time sleeping at night, and subsequently found myself constantly exhausted during the day. My joints felt stiff. My scalp was dry and my skin was itchy. I couldn’t tell if it was the cumulative result of two years of experimental cancer treatment or just being in my 40s, but in short, my mojo was waning on several fronts, and I didn’t like the idea that this somehow now was to be my new normal.

Then I went to the library and took out Mark Bittman’s “VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health … for Good.” I was already familiar with Bittman’s simple strategy of confining animal products to dinnertime; in fact, I’d adopted a more relaxed version of it after I was first diagnosed with cancer and wanted to gently shift some of my habits. I called it my “no more than one animal a day” plan – a tuna salad at lunch would mean pasta with tomato sauce for dinner; the promise of short ribs tonight meant minestrone midday. My usual breakfasts of coffee with oatmeal or homemade yogurt didn’t even require an update. And aside from a few minor challenges while traveling, it worked fine.

But reading Bittman’s book inspired me in a new way. It wasn’t some insane, get skinny junk science diet. It wasn’t some hand-wringing, “Go buy a $500 juicer and some organic greens because everything else gives you cancer” vaguely eating disordered manifesto. It wasn’t restrictive. It didn’t require special tools or ingredients or knowledge. Bittman even allowed, repeatedly, that some days might require more flexibility, and that’s OK. It was about long-term health, and maybe even helping change how the animals we do choose to eat are treated. I dove voraciously into its sane advice and easy recipes, and decided to step up my game.


It took a few weeks, but I weaned off my morning coffee with milk and replaced it with herbal tea. I gave up my beloved yogurt, switching it up with an occasional whipped tofu and banana. I kept my lunch to mostly vegetables atop grains or beans. I even invested in Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s “Isa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week,” and resolved to get a vegan dinner on the table at least once a week. It was a move that was met with much initial protestation by my family, but resistance is futile against a really good falafel.

Sometimes, finding out that something works is almost as dismaying as finding out it doesn’t. Maybe all I really had to do was kick coffee, but dammit, I started sleeping more deeply than I have in years. Maybe all I had to do was lean away from milk, but the vaguely bloated feeling and the skin irritation reduced. Even the weird change in my sense of taste that had kicked in when I started my clinical trial and never abated seemed to subside. But what really sold me was when I ran into a friend on the street one day and she asked, in an almost puzzled tone, “Why do you look great?” I had loved my coffee and my eggs. I’m not going to lie – I missed them in my daily life. I had almost wished my experiment wouldn’t be such a success, so I could keep enjoying them with the frequency I always had. But oh yeah, this kind of response was definitely worth moving grilled cheese to the “once in a while” zone.

Full-time veganism never appealed to me, and it still doesn’t. Aside from my above mentioned love of a good chicken, I’ve always been uneasy around the amount of processed food that seems to be involved in giving up animal products entirely. I’d still rather have butter I can make myself in about 10 minutes than some substitute flown in from another part of the country, with a long list of ingredients. I don’t like the idea of sweeteners and salt and stabilizers in a lot of meat and dairy alternatives, and I really don’t like the taste. I definitely didn’t like the vegan brownie I accidentally ate a few months ago, that tasted somehow like wet garbage smells. I do like not being the person at a dinner party or on the road with a special request. I like knowing that I have options, that bacon is still out there waiting for me if I should desire it and that if my afternoon involves a hot chocolate, so be it.


But even in my non-vegan meals, I find myself easing in the direction of fewer animal products. I go a little lighter on the ricotta and mozzarella on my pizzas. I swap out a tablespoon or two of butter with olive oil or coconut oil in my cakes, and inspired by the beautiful confections of Miette bakery, leave them less frosted. Vegetable and mushroom broth have taken the place of chicken and beef stock in my soups and stews. Nothing dramatic, nothing that screams of absolutism. And I think less in buzzy terms like “part-time vegan” and more in terms of simply, this is a good way to eat. Lots of plants and grains and beans, with considerably smaller amounts of animals and their products. To have a black bean chili with warm bread and olive oil, followed by a scoop of gelato, isn’t to me to suffer through some abstemious, vegan repast. It’s to enjoy a really lovely meal.

No amount of kale is going to make me have a 25-year-old butt again. Carrots will only do so much for my increasingly crap eyesight. But it’s exciting to see that relatively small, painless changes in habit can have such a huge impact in a person’s life. So if you’ve been feeling more slumpy than usual lately, consider a similar little shift. You don’t have to go all PETA if you don’t want to. I sure don’t want to. This isn’t a club. This isn’t a competition. Best of all, it’s not a diet. You don’t ever have to say the v-word – I swear, it’s a way of living so subtle your friends likely won’t even notice you’ve replaced the club sandwich with hummus. A few minor switches can make a major difference. And I can attest that the best way to feel good is to eat well.


Vegan Before 6: the new 5:2 diet?

Is living as a vegan until 6pm the new 5:2 diet? Anna Hunter finds out about the tried and tested diet plan that promises weight loss and a clearer conscience

Some trends cause a stir, are done to death and promptly become passé (cronuts, onesies and twerkers guilty as charged), whilst other movements attract a loyal following and by proxy have more longevity. Printed trousers, gel manicures and coconut water, take a bow. Another in-thing that’s really gathered pace is the 5:2 diet, and its popularity is due in part to its scientifically proven principles and generally achievable format. Eat as normal for five days per week, cut back food intake in a sensible manner for the remaining two days and see results soon-ish. It’s worked for everyone from documenter of the diet Dr Michael Mosley to model Miranda Kerr, and if you don’t know someone who’s on it you probably need to come out from under that rock.

Given the global success of the 5:2, it’s no surprise that other similarly structured, deprivation-lite diet plans are making the headlines. One such regimen is ‘Vegan Before 6:00’ (VB6), an eating plan devised by New York Times’ lead food writer, Mark Bittman.

The story behind Bittman’s eating plan and accompanying book, VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health, … for Good, will be a familiar tale for many. In his late fifties and overweight, with high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, Mark’s doctor suggested taking the matter in hand with the help of drugs and surgery. Mark had different ideas, and after a frank chat with a less conventional doctor, struck upon the essence of ‘Vegan Before 6:00’.

He knew he needed to cut the crap and adopt a more plant-based diet, however being a food writer without the freedom or inclination to completely overhaul his lifestyle, he decided to impose dietary discipline most of time, leaving evenings free to eat what he liked in moderation. ‘Vegan Before 6:00’ was born; Mark eats only vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts, seeds and wholegrains during the day; after six he allows himself to eat whatever he pleases, although he makes a point of not ‘pigging out on processed foods’. The bottom line being that he adopted a healthier diet for the most part, and managed to sustain it as he felt satisfied, not hard done by, at the end of the day.

What’s more, for Bittman at least, it works. He lost a significant amount of weight, reduced his cholesterol and blood sugar levels and has kept up both the eating plan and clean bill of health. In Bittman’s own words, his initial experiment has found wings:

“It was a game at first, and maybe that was a good thing – ‘can I do this?’ Well, yes, I could and now that it’s been six years, it’s obviously sustainable.”

In the same vein as the 5:2, Bittman proposes a dietary ‘way of life’, rather than a quick-fix craze. As he himself admits, ‘there is no science to the “before 6” part, so whether you’re out for lunch or indulging in a fry up, the overarching principle is to adjust the proportion of nourishing, wholesome foods in your diet, so that you alter your eating habits for the good for a significant part of the day. If you fall off the wagon it doesn’t matter; the important factor is that you’re making enough positive changes to make a difference to your health, weight and wellbeing.

MORE GLOSS: Newby Hands tries out the 5:2 diet

It wasn’t just a spare tyre and medical concerns that convinced Bittman to embrace a ‘flexitarian’ diet; not only did he identify financial benefits but he also felt compelled to eat more consciously and reduce his consumption of processed foods and cheap animal products that compromised both his morals and the environment. In an interview with Body & Soul magazine he outlined the various factors that contributed to his decision to veer towards veganism:

“I noticed that the quality of the food most people were eating was getting worse, animals were being treated worse, the environment was suffering, and people — myself included — were getting fatter and less healthy.”

Sourcing protein and sustenance from plants for the majority of the time provides an alternative to detrimental, untenable production methods while also remaining realistic and apparently advantageous from a health point of view; so what’s not to like? I asked health and nutrition expert Karen Cummings-Palmer for her expert estimation of Bittman’s eating plan:

“I encourage my clients to eat consciously whether they are meat eaters or not. It is certainly true that the current level of meat consumption is not sustainable – we should all be thinking quality not quantity and most of us need more plant food. But I’m not a big fan of diet rules – they are difficult to stick to and failure often produces more unhealthy habits. From a health and beauty perspective I would rather clients had protein early in the day; I often have a vegetable omelette, rich in Biotin and B vitamins to get a nutrient and energy boost that’s going to feed my hair, skin and nails and also keep me feeling fuller for longer. The evening is the perfect time for fish, vegetable stews or vegetarian sources of protein like Aduki beans and Quinoa – meat can be tough on the digestion, compromising that essential beauty sleep!”

MORE GLOSS: A week in the life of a Fast Diet follower

Food futurologist Dr Morgaine Gaye also has reservations concerning Mark’s approach:

“Helping the welfare of animals is a very different goal to embarking on a weight loss plan. As far as weight loss plans go, this like almost every diet is questionable because it’s based on cutting food groups out and therefore generally limiting and reducing calories. However, diets in general are a fad, and this one is not based on any science or functional medicine. Sugar, grains and carbs are considerably more damaging than butter and bee pollen (both non-vegan foods), and exactly what people would eat between 6-8pm is problematic, because that should be the lightest meal of the day and not particularly dense in animal proteins.”

While ‘Vegan Before 6:00’ may not be a foolproof, evidence-backed dietary approach, and it’s worth highlighting that it’s certainly not for everyone, the basic notion of knowing where our meals come from and rejecting processed foods and cheap animal products is one supported by nutritionists, environmentalists and animal rights campaigners worldwide. From ‘Meat-Free Monday’ to the increasing popularity of farmer’s markets, it seems we’re finally coming round to the fact that Turkey Twizzlers, McNuggets and their ilk are damaging more than our waistlines.

For post-sunset sustenance that isn’t heavy on meat yet is packed with proteins, check out Karen’s delicious Asian broth recipe below. It’ll warm the cockles, fill your belly and you can use whichever vegetables, herbs and spices you have to hand. It’s a steaming bowl of cheer that proves that eating healthily doesn’t have to be hard or restrictive.

Karen’s Aduki Bean and poached egg Asian Broth

A nourishing, protein broth in 10 minutes – serves 1 hungry person

Feed your brain with a fast protein rich, nutrient dense, good fat, low calorie supper. My meals are designed to serve as inspiration – feel free to use any fresh or frozen vegetables you have and canned beans. Make your flavours mild or intense – you can also use dried spices to save time.


1/2 can Organic coconut milk health boosting, good fat

Sprouted Aduki beans rich in protein, fibre and magnesium rich in protein and Vit B

1 Egg rich in protein and Vit B

Shallots or onions anti-bacterial, anti-viral

Garlic anti-bacterial, anti-viral

Fresh ginger anti-viral

Juice of one lime and another half lime to garnish rich in Vit C

Bok Choi calcium rich

Peas phyto-nutrient

Fennels Seeds cleansing

1 Thai (Bird’s Eye) Chilli rich in Vit A

Lime leaves to taste (remove before serving)

Soya Sauce


  • Sauté onions on low heat add chopped garlic, chilli, fennel seeds and ginger – be as generous as you like, with what you love
  • Add coconut, lime & lime leaves with 2 teaspoons of soya sauce
  • Add Aduki beans, bok choy and peas, stir then crack an egg to poach in the mixture
  • Simmer mixture on medium heat for a further 5 mins
  • Add another splash of soya and squeeze of fresh lime juice if desired. Enjoy!

Are you planning on trying ‘Vegan Before 6’? What do you think of the Bittman’s diet? Leave your comments below or tweet us @GetTheGloss.

To find out more about Mark and his ‘Vegan Before 6” eating plan, visit

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  • Most of us would wince at the thought of going vegan, but how about this for an idea – what if you only had to stick to it at breakfast and lunch and could still eat what you like in the evening?

    Beyonce has done just that and has become more toned as a result. She posted a picture on her Tumblr of her looking hotter than ever. Both her and Jay Z have been following a strict Vegan diet for 22 days and the results are amazing!

    The Vegan Before 6 or VB6 Diet is the latest weight-loss craze sweeping America. Its premise is that you avoid all meat, fish, dairy and processed foods before 6 o’ clock at night, making yourself, effectively, a vegan before 6!

    The idea came from US food writer Mark Bittman. He’s been writing food columns for newspapers since 1980 so knows a thing or two about food and yet when his doctor told him his cholesterol was too high and he was in danger of contracting diabetes, he embarked on a new way of life and VB6 was born.

    What are the rules of the VB6 Diet?

    There really are very few, apart from the obvious. Try to eat a diet rich in plant foods and free from meat, dairy, poultry, fish or seafood before 6pm. Thereafter you can eat what you like. Bittman also recommends trying to cut back on ‘white foods’ and not filling up on processed, sugar-filled nasties (even if they are vegan) throughout the day. Most pastas are a no-go anyway as they tend to be made from egg, but white bread and chips should also be avoided.

    How much weight can I lose going VB6?

    After embarking on this new eating plan, Mark Bittman lost 15lbs in the first month. After several more months, he was down 35lbs and lighter than he’d ever been. On top of that he was sleeping better, had reduced his cholesterol and felt much healthier.

    What are the pros of being vegan before 6?

    It’s not actually that limiting! If you think about it, you’ve only got to get through breakfast and lunch in your new vegan mindset and then your evening meal is yours to eat what you like. There’s no calorie counting, food diaries or weighing and measuring – just good, honest healthy eating throughout the day. You’ll probably save a fair bit of money on your food shop too not to mention the benefits for the environment. After all a vegan in a 4×4 has a smaller carbon footprint than a meat eater on a push bike!

    What are the cons of the VB6 Diet?

    Well, if you’re a big meat-eater you might struggle at first but like every change in life, it’ll just take a little while to get used to. You could always ease yourself into VB6 by still eating some fish at first while you get used to new cooking styles and ingredients. Bittman is keen to point out this is a healthy way of life, not a fad diet so participants should imagine they’re going to be vegan before 6 for a reasonable stint of time.

    What can I eat on the VB6 Diet?

    It’s recommended that you cook for yourself where possible (and remember, it’s just during the day) because then you know exactly what you’re eating. Here are some VB6 food types you’re likely to get pretty familiar with:
    – Salads – Vegetables – Fruits – Nuts – Pulses – Rice – Quinoa – Bulgur Wheat – Brown bread – Soya milk or yogurt

    What can’t I eat on the VB6 Diet?

    – Eggs – Milk – Cheese – Pasta – Quorn products (they contain milk and egg)
    – Meat – Poultry – Fish – Seafood – Chocolate

    VB6: Vegan before 6 recipe ideas

    To help you get started we’ve raided our bank of tasty vegan recipes so you can get going with VB6 straight away.

    VB6 breakfast recipes

    – Sunshine breakfast smoothie
    – 2 slice of wholegrain toast with Vegemite – Fresh fruit salad

    VB6 lunch and dinner recipes

    – Roasted tomato soup
    – Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s ratatouille
    – Vegetable stew
    – Quinoa and butternut squash salad
    – Quick chickpea and sweet potato curry (pictured)
    – Baked aubergine

    VB6 treats and snacks

    – Vegan hot cross buns

    Where to next?
    – 5:2 Diet: What’s all the fuss about?
    – The Mediterranean Diet
    – Vegetarian Diet

    Mark Bittman: “You Will Lose Weight” Eating Vegan Before 6

    Quentin Bacon

    When Mark Bittman’s doctors told him he had pre-diabetes, pre-heart-disease, and high cholesterol, the New York Times food columnist knew he had to take back control of his health. The catch? He didn’t want to give up the pleasurable aspects of eating, such as dining out and indulging in favorite foods.

    With that in mind, he decided to embark on a mostly plant-based diet: He’d eat vegan meals and snacks before 6 p.m., and at night he’d enjoy whatever he wanted. Here, the best-selling author shares more about this non-diet “diet,” how you can easily follow it yourself, and his favorite go-to vegan meals.

    Shape: When you first started eating this way, were the initial effects on your health?

    Mark Bittman (MB): This was about seven years ago, after I gained more than a little too much weight. After six weeks I’d lost 15 pounds, and four months later, I was down 35 pounds total. Then my doctors told me my cholesterol and blood sugars were down to normal levels, and my sleep apnea went away. All of this caused me to talk and think about this more, and I recognized I’d come up with something. That’s when I decided to write about it, and VB6 was born.

    Shape: Why would you suggest someone try the VB6 lifestyle?

    Mark Bittman (MB): We know that diets don’t work. They’re depriving and hard to stay on long-term. I wanted something that was easy to stay on for the rest of my life. Everybody wants to go to restaurants, drink at night, and feel like they’re eating normally when they go out to eat.

    Shape: You write in VB6, “There’s no reason to let perfection be the enemy of good.” Can you tell me more about this approach to eating?

    MB: Cheating is built in. We want it to be doable and beneficial-and it’s not beneficial if you don’t do it. Everyone’s first comment to me is, “Well, I can’t live without half and half in my coffee.” I tell them to have it. But then you can’t have two double cheeseburgers for lunch, or eat animal products all day long. And you will know whether you’re doing it seriously or not-because it’s going to work. For most people, after starting this diet, you will lose weight and your blood numbers will look better.

    Shape: What vegan foods do you always have in your kitchen?

    MB: Tofu, canned tomatoes, a zillion condiments, blueberries, lettuce, broccoli, and of course staples like onions, bell peppers, and potatoes. I always have the makings of a chopped salad or stir-fry on hand.

    RELATED: 6 Flat-Belly Vegan Meals

    Shape: Many of the recipes inThe VB6 Cookbook seem to be relatively high in whole grains and fruits-they’re not exactly low-carb. What do you think about the recent diet books promoting low-carb, higher-fat diets?

    MB: There’s a huge difference between hyperprocessed carbs like white bread and carbs like wheat berries. People are afraid of carbs. The gluten thing is out of control. I don’t think there’s a scientific basis that carbs are bad and that more protein and animal products are good-I don’t see the science supporting that. I do think there’s a good case to be made that we went overboard on reducing fats, but I don’t think that’s the same thing as saying all grains all bad.

    Shape: If someone is extremely active, working out for more than an hour a day, should they be concerned about the amount of protein in their diet when following VB6?

    MB: Concentrate on eating protein at every meal. Nuts, legumes, and tofu are vegan foods that have plenty of protein. If you need more concentrated sources of protein, have a steak at night.

    Shape: There’s a good amount of cooking involved in these recipes. What if someone is extremely crunched for time?

    MB: A lot of vegan meals-oatmeal, fruit salad, chopped salads, for example-take 10 minutes, maybe. If you say you’re too busy to cook, I’d ask you what you’re spending your time doing. Say you go to a deli to get a salad for lunch. You’ll stand in line for 15 minutes. Why not spend that time in the morning to prepare lunch?

    • By Locke Hughes

    A balanced diet means wide variety of foods, but real foods. Again, not hyper-processed foods, but real foods. Meat and dairy can be a part of that diet, but it should not be a part of that diet in the way that it is for most of us now, which is to say we eat a pound and a half or so of animal products every day on average, which is conservatively ten times as much as we need and ten times as much as is good for us.

    So, the overconsumption of animal products is bad for us. The overproduction of industrially raised animals — as in factory farms — we’ve all seen pictures of those, is not only bad for us, but terrible for the environment, for the people who live around those factory farms, for the animals, of course. So, the idea is really a balance of real foods, but a much stronger and much heavier emphasis on plants than really we’ve done in the United States for 100 years.

    Why aren’t we happy with what the science tell us about healthy eating?

    MB: Yeah, why do we ignore the science? Many books have been written about this. We look for silver bullets. We expect magic to happen. We think that at some point, there’s going to be a pill that makes our ills go away — there’s going be a tech solution that makes climate change go away.

    And it doesn’t always work that way. In fact, it usually doesn’t work that way. So, when the science says, and the science does say a good diet is actually a very, very simple thing, people find that boring. Everybody says, “Oh, it’s so confusing.” Well, the reason it’s confusing is because the industry wants you to be confused.

    So, if I say to you, “Eat lots of tomatoes,” and then a study comes out and says, “Well, tomatoes are good because there’s lycopene (PH) in it,” then the industry wants to promote lycopene because it can take lycopene and put it in Trix, and now tell you that Trix are good for you because there’s lycopene in them.

    But the fact is that’s not how it works. What works is eating a wide variety of foods, as I’ve now said three times — most of them plants. And that’s so simple that people think, “Well, it can’t be like that. It has to be that some scientist invents something.” That’s not how things are going to get better.

    We crave rules — a way of thinking that makes it easier to shift to a healthier diet. Vegan Before 6:00 is a perfect example — how did you stumble upon your personal rule?

    MB: I was thinking about this for years — and not making that many changes in my own diet. I didn’t eat much hyper-processed food, but I did eat a lot of animal products. And I thought, “You know, if I’m going to walk the walk, I have to be eating a more plant-based diet.”

    And I needed a rule. I recognized that I needed one and many of us do. It’s not enough to say, “Eat more plants,” because then you wake up and you say, “I’m going to eat more plants, but maybe not at breakfast.” And then you say, “Maybe not at lunch, and maybe not at dinner, either.” And days go by.

    So, I made this rule that I called “Vegan before 6:00,” which is I eat as a very strict vegan all day long. That is, I eat very heavily from the plant kingdom and exclusively from the plant kingdom, and no white flour, no white pasta, no white rice. Nothing white. No meat, no dairy, no junk.

    Only plants until dinnertime, and then at dinner, I do whatever I want to do. It was just a thought. It was just like a little game I was going to play with myself, which was, “Let’s see if I have the discipline to eat a strictly plant-based diet, all day long, and then at night I’ll let myself eat meat and doughnuts or whatever,” which I don’t, but it worked. I did it at first as a challenge and it was kind of fun. I did it, and all my blood numbers, my weight, my cholesterol, all of that stuff went in the right direction.

    So, I kept doing it, and it kind of became a way of life. But I want to emphasize that any strategy that enables you to eat more plant foods, more natural foods, more whole foods and less hyper-processed foods and fewer animal products, any strategy that works for you is the right strategy.

    How do we make sure everyone has access to healthy food?

    MB: Some people don’t get to eat enough, some eat too much of the wrong things and then there’s the environmental problems. So, all of this is an educational issue, which is why I’m talking to you now. There’s a notion that so-called “healthy food” is more expensive than junk food, and it’s really not true. And if you compare a dinner for a family of four at McDonald’s or Burger King or any fast food joint you want to name,(and that is for the most part unhealthy food because no one’s going there to order salads) to what it costs to cook a normal meal for a family of four … and I’m not talking about organic and I’m not talking about going to a fancy supermarket … We’re talking about buying regularly grown vegetables and fruits, a little bit of meat, beans and rice, whatever, that is less expensive. You know, your $20 goes a lot farther at a regular supermarket than it goes in a fast food joint.

    So, what’s the bottom line?

    MB: The bottom line is the same as the first line. The bottom line is eat less hyper-processed food. Eat no junk at all, if you can. Eat more plants, and when I say “plants,” I don’t mean distillations of plants. I mean things that don’t have labels, like fruits and vegetables and nuts and seeds. And eat way fewer animal products. That is the formula. It’s pretty simple.


    • Bad nutrition advice dietitians want you to forget
    • The best way to lose weight boils down to these three things
    • What you need to know about going vegan

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    Mark Bittman on food and all things related.

    On my recent book tour, I spoke with a number of people about my take on a positive direction for the American diet. I’ve been semi-vegan for six years and in the book (called “VB6,” for Vegan Before 6 p.m. ), I argue that this strategy, or one like it, can move us toward better health.

    In the last 30 years, researchers have graduated from the notion that Americans should “eat less fat, especially saturated fat” — the catchphrase of ’80s nutritionists — to widespread agreement that we eat too few unprocessed plants and too much hyperprocessed food, especially food containing sugar and those carbohydrates that our bodies convert rapidly to sugar. There is also compelling evidence that we eat too many animal products (something like 600 pounds per person per year) and too much salt.

    None of this is simple. For one thing, we still have much to learn about the composition of plants and the aspects of them that are good for us , although it’s becoming clear that they’re beneficial not so much as a combination of nutrients but as the right package of nourishment, which we might as well call real food. In other words, you’re better off eating a carrot than the beta-carotene that was once thought to be its most beneficial “ingredient.”

    And for another, salt and sugar are necessary parts of a sound diet, but so much of each is added to processed food that we’re getting way too much of both. It’s likely that neither would be a concern if we were doing all of our cooking from scratch, but of course we are not.

    Animal products have a special place in this discussion, because unlike hyperprocessed foods they have been a part of the diet of most humans since humans existed, and because their concentration of nutrients makes consuming at least some of them convenient and perhaps even smart.
    There is, however, a limit to their benefit. Until recently, even “successful” agriculture failed to guarantee unlimited animal products to the masses, but industrial agriculture changed that, and, since (say) 1950, almost anyone in a developed country who could afford (say) a car could also afford to eat meat, dairy and/or eggs as often as he liked.

    Although the most convincing research indicates that red meat is the least healthy, it also appears that those who turn to what’s called a “paleo” diet — one comprising primarily meat, fruits and vegetables but not so much in the way of legumes or grains — may avoid some of the pitfalls of the standard American diet but still fall prey to others.

    Besides, there are non-dietary reasons to eat fewer animal products. Even if their nutritional profile were unambivalently beneficial, they use too many resources: land, water, energy and — not the least important — food that could nourish people. (To the often-asked question, “How will we feed the 9 billion?” — used to defend a host of objectionable agricultural practices — many of us say, “Focus more on feeding people plants and less on feeding them animals. ”)

    And there are two other factors to consider: the industrial production of livestock is a major (if not the leading) contributor to greenhouse gases, and the rampant and nearly unregulated use of antibiotics in that production is making those drugs less effective while encouraging the development of hardier disease-causing germs.

    From every perspective, then, it seems we should be eating more plants and less of everything else. “So,” a certain percentage of the people I spoke to this month asked, “why not go whole hog” (forgive me) “and advocate a strictly vegan diet?” Isn’t being a part-time vegan, the more strident demand, like being a little bit pregnant?

    To that last question, the answer is, “Obviously not.” A vegan meal has no implications about what your next meal may be; you can be vegan for the better part of a day, or for a number of days of your life. Part-time veganism (which you might also call flexitarianism) is a strategy for integrating the reigning wisdom — eat more plants, less hyperprocessed stuff, fewer animal products — into lives that have, until now, been composed of too few of the first and too many of the second and third.

    VB6 is just one such strategy; in my travels, I met people who were “vegan until the weekend” or vegan all but five days a month, or any number of other approaches to achieving the same goal. You might think of patterns of eating as falling on one point or another along a spectrum, and moving toward the plant-based end of that spectrum — as opposed to the end represented by Morgan Spurlock’s “ super-sized” diet — is almost always beneficial. It is about eating better, or well, not perfectly, and it must be said that “perfectly” has not yet been defined.

    I can see three scenarios that might lead to universal, full-time veganism: An indisputable series of research results proving that consuming animal products is unquestionably “bad” for us; the emerging dominance of a morality that asserts that we have no right to “exploit” our fellow animals for our own benefit; or an environmental catastrophe that makes agriculture as we know it untenable. All seem unlikely.

    This much is known, now: We produce most animal products in deplorable conditions, and some of our health and environmental problems can be traced both to dominant production methods and our overconsumption. But we like to eat them, and they’re a pleasurable and even healthy part of many traditional diets and even sound agricultural practices.

    So: reduce the rate at which we consume animal products, produce them better and substitute plants for a large portion of them. We’ll improve our health, animal welfare and the state of the environment. Not a bad bargain.

    1. I eat mostly unprocessed plants before 6 p.m., and then whatever I want afterward. And, in answer to the most frequently asked question: Yes, I cheat.

    2. This led to “low-fat” foods (Snackwells is a shining but hardly only example) and the biggest per capita weight gain in American history.

    3. Just this week, for example, a new study was published showing that plants may be protective against cancer. I include this not because it’s conclusive but just to show that the work is ongoing.

    4. Or, as David Katz has said, “The active ingredient in broccoli is broccoli.”

    5. Jared Diamond, in his 1987 article “The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race,” questions whether agriculture was actually an advance for humans, but there is obviously no going back.

    6. Reducing waste, sometimes estimated as high as 50 percent of all food produced, is another obvious answer.

    7. This is also spelled out in Dean Ornish’s book “The Spectrum.” I’m a long-time admirer of Ornish, and for that reason I asked him to write the foreword to my book.

    8. A vegan diet is no guarantee of a good diet, unless the only goal is to avoid killing animals. Sugar-sweetened beverages, French fries and doughnuts can all be vegan.

    Six years ago, Mark Bittman, a columnist for the New York Times and one of the country’s most respected food writers, was told by his trusted doctor that his diet needed some changes. He was headed for heart disease—diabetes too. Would he consider going vegan?

    For someone accustomed to “eating widely and well,” as he puts it, forgoing all animal products just didn’t seem realistic. So Bittman developed a smart strategy to shift his eating patterns in the plant-based direction, which he has now turned into the brand new book, VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health . . . for Good. Bittman answered a few questions for Men’s Fitness—and also shared three of his best VB6 recipes.

    See also: Can You Be a Vegetarian and Still Gain Muscle?>>

    Men’s Fitness: Why does “vegan before 6” work for you?

    Mark Bittman: Eating vegan part of the day works for me because there aren’t too many rules. I can stick with it for the first two-thirds of the day, and then I can eat whatever I want in the evening, thus hanging out with my friends without appearing weird.

    MF: If you had to give your quick elevator pitch on the merits of a plant-based diet, what would you say?

    MB: Eating more vegetables will improve your health, lower your carbon footprint, and push back against the world of processed foods.

    MF: In the book, you talk about the “protein myth.” What is it?

    MB: The average American eats two to three times as much protein as he or she needs. This overconsumption can result in a variety of health issues—obesity, heart disease, I could go on. The “myth” I’ve labeled is multilayered: Americans have been urged by food marketers to consume far more meat than we should be eating, and many people don’t realize that there’s plenty of protein in plants. In fact, many plants have more protein per calorie than meat. While meat, eggs and cheese are, sure, nutrient-dense, they’re calorie-dense too, and they’re usually produced in, let’s say, not-ideal conditions. Plants provide the same vitamins and minerals plus protein—along with phytonutrients not found in meat.

    MF: Does it really hold true for athletes—or guys who are trying to build muscle?

    MB: While real athletes may need additional protein, and it may be easier for them to get it from animal products, the vegan Iron Man winners, football players and ultra runners demonstrate that it isn’t essential to go that route.

    MF: What are the special merits of plant-based proteins, which men in their 20s and 30s should consider?

    MB: Well for starters, eating more legumes and other high-protein plants will hopefully mean eating less meat. That shift is essential not only for our health but for that of the planet and many of the things living on it. Just to give you an idea of how influential meat consumption is on our plant, industrialized livestock production appears to account for a fifth or more of the greenhouse gases that are causing climate change. Eating less meat and more vegetables will not only improve your own health but the health of the planet.

    MF: You’re a marathoner. For the endurance athletes out there, how do you, personally, adapt this diet to your nutritional needs while training?

    MB: I do get hungrier when I’m training, especially when my mileage gets up to 40 miles a week or more; and, occasionally, I feel like I’m starving no matter how much I eat. So I cheat; that isn’t the worst thing in the world either. This isn’t about dogma; it’s about sensibility.

    NEXT: Get 3 of Bittman’s VB6 Recipes>>

    BREAKFAST: Scrambled Tofu with Spinach

    Makes: 4 servings

    Time: 20 minutes


    • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 1 tbsp chopped garlic, or more to taste
    • 1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
    • Black pepper to taste
    • 1 tbsp red chile flakes, or 1 or 2 fresh hot red chiles (like serrano or Thai), minced
    • 1½ lbs fresh spinach, trimmed and rinsed well
    • 1½ lbs firm or silken tofu, drained and patted dry


    1. Put the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the onion and garlic and sprinkle with salt; cook until the onion is translucent and the garlic is soft, 3 to 5 minutes.
    2. Add the chiles and cook, stirring, until fragrant, less than a minute. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the spinach and ¼ cup water. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the spinach is wilted and fairly dry, 5 to 8 minutes.
    3. Crumble the tofu into the pan and stir, using a spatula to scrape the bottom of the pan and combine the tofu and vegetables; adjust the heat as necessary to avoid burning. When the mixture starts to stick to the pan, it’s ready: Taste and adjust the seasoning, and serve hot or warm.

    Variation: Scrambled Tofu with Tomatoes — Use 2 pounds chopped tomatoes instead of the spinach. In Step 2, be sure to cook the tomatoes until they’re dry before adding the tofu. Then continue with the recipe.

    Reprinted from the book VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health…for Good copyright © 2013 by Mark Bittman. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc. Photo is a stock image not associated with the book and does not represent the recipe’s exact finished product.

    NEXT: Baked Falafel Recipe>>

    LUNCH: Baked Falafel with Tahini Sauce

    Makes: 8 servings

    Time: 45 minutes, plus up to 24 hours to soak chickpeas


    • 1¾ cups dried chickpeas
    • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 1 small onion, quartered
    • 1 tbps cumin
    • Scant tsp cayenne, or to taste
    • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
    • 1½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
    • ½ tsp black pepper, plus more to taste
    • ½ tsp baking soda
    • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
    • 4 tbsp olive oil
    • ½ cup tahini


    1. Put the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with water by 3 or 4 inches—the beans will triple in volume as they soak. Soak for 12 to 24 hours, checking once or twice to see if you need to add more water to keep the beans submerged. (If the soaking time is inconvenient for you, just leave them in the water until they’re ready; you should be able to break them apart between your fingers.)
    2. Heat the oven to 375°F. Drain the chickpeas and transfer them to a food processor with the garlic, onion, cumin, cayenne, herb, 1 teaspoon of salt, pepper, baking soda, and lemon juice. Pulse until everything is minced but not pureed, stopping the machine and scraping down the sides if necessary; add water tablespoon by tablespoon if necessary to allow the machine to do its work, but keep the mixture as dry as possible. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, or cayenne as needed.
    3. Grease a large rimmed baking sheet with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Roll the bean mixture into 20 balls, about 1½ inches each, then flatten them into thick patties. Put the falafel on the prepared pan and brush the tops with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Bake until golden all over, 10 to 15 minutes on each side.
    4. Meanwhile, whisk the tahini and remaining salt with ½ cup water in a small bowl until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve the falafel drizzled with the sauce.

    Variation: Nutty Falafel — Replace ½ cup of the beans with an equal amount of walnuts, almonds, peanuts, or hazelnuts (don’t soak the nuts). Omit the cumin and cayenne and use the cilantro instead of the parsley or try a tablespoon or so of thyme leaves. Proceed with the recipe.

    Nutritional Info (with 1 whole wheat pita): 502 calories; 0mg cholesterol; 20g fat; 3g saturated fat; 18g protein; 68g carbs; 813mg sodium; 14g fiber; 0g trans fat; 6g sugars.

    Reprinted from the book VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health…for Good copyright © 2013 by Mark Bittman. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc. Photo is a stock image not associated with the book and does not represent the recipe’s exact finished product.

    NEXT: Steak and Broccoli Stir-Fry Recipe>>

    DINNER: Steak and Broccoli Stir-fry

    Makes: 4 servings

    Time: 30 minutes


    • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
    • 12 oz beef flank or sirloin steak, very thinly sliced (easiest if you freeze the meat for 30 minutes)
    • 1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
    • Black pepper to taste
    • 2 tbsp minced garlic
    • 1 tbsp minced ginger
    • 1 tbsp minced fresh hot chile (like jalapeño or Thai; optional)
    • 1½ lbs broccoli, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
    • ½ cup chopped scallions
    • 2 tbsp soy sauce, plus more to taste
    • Juice of 1 lime or ½ lemon (optional)
    • ¼ cup chopped peanuts or cashews
    • 3 cups cooked long- or short-grain brown rice


    1. Put a large, deep skillet over high heat. When it’s hot, add 1 tablespoon of the oil, swirl it around, and add the beef. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of the salt and some pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beef starts to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the meat to a plate.
    2. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil, then the garlic, ginger, and chile, if you’re using it. After 15 seconds, add the broccoli and all but a handful of the scallions. Cook, stirring infrequently, until the broccoli is bright green and beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and ½ cup of water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until almost all the liquid has evaporated and the broccoli is almost tender, another minute or two more.
    3. Return the meat to the pan along with the soy sauce and lime juice, if you’re using it, and a little more water if the mixture is dry. Raise the heat to high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced slightly. Stir in the peanuts, then taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary; garnish with the remaining scallions, and serve over the rice.

    Nutritional Info (with ¾ cup brown rice): 572 calories; 55mg cholesterol; 28g fat; 5g saturated fat; 31g protein; 54g carbs; 1510mg sodium; 10g fiber; 0g trans fat; 6g sugars.

    Reprinted from the book VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health…for Good copyright © 2013 by Mark Bittman. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc. Photo is a stock image not associated with the book and does not represent the recipe’s exact finished product.

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    Vegan Before 6 (VB6) Diet: Is It Right for You?

    Mark Bittman is a critically acclaimed author, with 20 books on food and healthy eating. His career took off when he worked for The New York Times as a food writer for the Sunday Magazine, quickly becoming one of America’s most sought-after op-ed columnists. From there, his name became even more well known, as he started in various television series, traveled the country giving talks to universities and conferences, and landing at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health as a faculty member. But it is Bittman’s The New York Times number one bestseller, VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00, that has folks in the health and fitness industry talking. But what exactly IS the VB6 Diet? And is it a sustainable diet you should seriously consider, or just another fad diet that will be gone tomorrow?

    What is the VB6 Diet?

    The principle is simple: eat vegan meals and snacks all day until 6 o’clock dinnertime, and then eat as you normally would in the evening – without many constraints or limitations to your suppertime meal! You do not have to meticulously track calories or macronutrients, and you do not have to avoid the foods and food groups you love. Plus, studies show that the vegan diet provides numerous benefits to the ecosystem and sustainable food systems, so you are doing your part in helping farm to table sustainability.

    Bittman’s approach to the diet is simple – which is exactly why so many people have started paying attention and trying it out for themselves. Instead of counting numbers and meticulously tracking portions, he puts foods into just three main categories: “Unlimited Foods,” “Flexible Foods”, and “Treats”. Unlimited foods include fruits and vegetables, and dieters can eat as much of them as they want. Because fruits and vegetables are filled with fiber and water, dieters can enjoy them in copious amounts, and are left feeling fuller for longer (which in turn leads them to not eat as much of the more calorie dense foods of the meal). Flexible foods include whole grains, nuts, beans, and tofu. These are “heftier” vegan foods, because they provide rich sources of carbs, fats, and proteins. Between the wide range of unlimited foods and flexible foods allowed on the diet, it is easy to fill up breakfast, lunch, and snacks with a variety of goodies. The final category, “treats”, includes non-vegan products like dairy and animal meat products. Again, these are meant to be eaten sparingly, only in the evenings. But most dieters, especially after sticking to VB6 for a few weeks, find themselves craving foods from the treats category less and less, as their bodies adjust and get used to being fueled off of vegan foods. Bittman himself says that, these days, he actually craves legumes, fruits, vegetables, and vegan foods more than their animal by-product counterparts.

    This ratio of limiting animal products to one meal a day means limiting excessive fat, calorie, and cholesterol sources for most individuals. Vegan foods are naturally lower in calories and nutrient dense foods, so dieters get fuller, faster. This translates positively for dieters trying to lose or maintain their weight then, as they are not taking in an excess and are limiting processed foods and high calorie meals.

    What does a typical day eating the VB6 diet look like?

    Okay, so you have the general gist of what this diet entails. But what would you realistically be eating. Honestly, if you are already somewhat of a health-conscious person, you are probably already eating a lot of these meals and snacks. And with just a few vegan-friendly swaps, you can go “full VB6” and hardly notice a difference. For breakfast, start the day off with a simple bowl of oatmeal cooked with almond milk and topped with dried or fresh fruit, nuts or vegan nut butter, and agave. Around lunch time, cut up some vegetables (remember, AS MUCH AS YOU WANT!) and throw together a simple salad topped with tofu or beans for protein and quinoa, sweet potatoes, squash, or farro for some carbs. Drizzle with a little avocado oil to get some fats in and voila! To avoid the midday slump, snack on fruits, nuts, or popcorn. There are also a ton of great vegan-friendly recipes these days, so if you do a bit of meal prep ahead of time, you can stock your pantry and fridge with homemade vegan protein bars or energy bites for a quick grab-and-go snack option. And then once dinner rolls around, feel free to branch back out and enjoy your old favorites! Pizza, pasta, sandwiches – whatever your heart desires! But be mindful of your portions, and try not to go back for seconds.

    Is it right for you? (i.e. Is it sustainable for your lifestyle, budget, and training?)

    Most runners would look at this diet with wary eyes. Through starchy vegetables and rice, quinoa, and other carbohydrate sources, it would be easy to make sure your glycogen tank is filled. But runners get hungry, and they need lots of protein. Would for-going meat allow you to still meet your protein needs throughout the day? It depends. For some, living on canned beans, rice, fruits and vegetables is actually quite simple and budget friendly. But venture out into other vegan foods and the cost can add up, and some VB6’ers have commented on how expensive it can be to grocery shop the vegan aisles. And what about convenience? Usually, as long as you keep some vegan friendly staples on hand at all times: (oatmeal and salads) a rounded, balanced meal can be thrown together in under 10 minutes and are excellent make-ahead options for busy work mornings and lunches. But that’s just it – vegan eating can require a bit of prep time, so if you are not already used to weekend meal prepping for the week ahead, this might be difficult for you to adjust to. And if you aren’t already versed in “veganese,” you’ll have to do your research on what foods are actually animal products and what aren’t (the list might surprise you!) Try it out for a week. If you like what you’re eating, feel better, and can continue running and living your best life, the VB6 diet is an excellent approach to balanced eating!

    Ashes to Ashes

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    Well folks, this is the end of the line.

    The VB6 experiment is officially over.

    If you don’t know what I’m talking about, four months ago I decided to try a different approach to eating. This approach “Vegan Before Six,” was entirely as prescribed by Mark Bittman, the New York Times food writer in his excellent book of the same title.

    And the approach could not of been simpler. Eat a vegan diet with no refined carbohydrates or processed foods before 6 o’clock at night every day. After six I was on my own.

    Actual VB6 dinner…

    And I wrote about the experiment, complete with my monthly weigh ins in these posts:

    And the experiment was actually a success. I never felt like I was dieting. My food habits became profoundly more healthy. And I even lost significant weight.

    I will admit that I was a little concerned getting on the scale yesterday morning to check my monthly progress. After all, the month prior I had lost a surprising amount of weight (due mostly to stress at work.) So I was concerned that this would be my first backslide month where I would maybe gain a pound or two.

    So is that why the experiment is over? is this the case of “one little setback and I throw in the towel?”

    Not really. I ended up losing a pound last month and I’m down to 194.6 pounds (9.4 pounds down since the start of the experiment if you’re keeping score.)

    That was a pleasant surprise.

    No, the experiment is over because it’s not really an experiment anymore. There’s nothing to report. This is how I eat now, and how I plan to keep on eating going forward.

    So for me VB6 has been a definite game changer.

    Here, then, are my final thoughts on this approach and why it worked for me, and why I’m not giving it up anytime soon.

    And more importantly here’s why I think this pursuit of a healthier diet is intricately related to the pursuit of financial independence.

    Simple But Hard

    The evidence based prescription for a better diet is not so controversial. We should eat more vegetables and fruits and less meats. We should eat more whole foods and less processed foods. And we should eat smaller portions. The problem of course is that even though the concept is simple the execution is difficult. Making the right choice actually involves thousands of “right” choices each and every day.

    Similarly simple, is the wisdom of investing well. One only needs a well diversified mixture of index funds with an appropriate risk exposure that is rebalanced at regular, predetermined intervals.

    So there you have it, eating well and investing well are both simple conceptually and hard behaviorally.

    The Primacy Of Books

    So how do you go about executing something that is “simple but hard ?”

    By definition it’s not easy, (it’s hard) but the first step is that you’ve got to read.

    Fortunately there’s plenty of evidence out there to sink your teeth into.

    In his book, Bittman does a nice job explaining his justification for this approach. More importantly he keeps it simple, and realistic for people who love food. There is no demand for you to eat like a caveman. (A caveman who conveniently has coffee, grass fed butter, and a blender handy to whip it all up into a frothy emulsion!) you needn’t give up vegetables and fruits (or really anything.) You needn’t count calories or turn each meal into a spreadsheet. You needn’t exchange real and pleasurable food with artificially engineered nutrition. You simply limit your options to healthy plant based whole foods before 6 o’clock each day.

    Similarly reading evidence-based books on investing allows you to understand how things like diversification, low costs, rebalancing, and factor tilting, lead to excellent results over time with minimum effort. More importantly these books give you the tools to avoid making the common mistakes that we as humans are almost genetically predisposed to make.

    The Complete Absence Of Snake Oil.

    VB6 taught me an important lesson which is that to eat well (and lose weight) you don’t have to take any shortcuts. You don’t have to take a pill. You don’t have to undergo a “cleanse.” There is no need for hypnotism. There’s no need for esoteric compounds extracted from Himalayan berries. Fasting is not necessary and food need not go anywhere but in your mouth.

    Not part of the VB6 magic…

    Similarly there are no honest shortcuts to wealth with any probability of success. And the winning formula is as basic as it is profound.

    Save more. Invest your savings passively in low-cost index funds. Rebalance periodically.

    No need for leverage. No need for predictive models. No need to trust your gut (or not trust your gut.) No need for supercomputers. No need for well placed high-speed cables to allow for high-frequency transactions. No need for patented algorithms. No need for paid newsletters with fancy stock picks. And no need for expert advice or handholding.

    There is some part of us that always wants to believe that there’s a shortcut. That an expert will help us. But the fact remains that no one cares about our own money as much as we do. And if we want more wealth we simply have to save more of our income.

    And in both cases I think it’s important to remember that the primary reason that snake oil salesman sell snake oil in the first place, is to make your money theirs.

    The Compounding Effect Of Small Efforts.

    Perhaps the best part about the weight-loss on VB6 is that it is slow.

    By simply eating delicious whole foods like beans and whole grains and vegetables and fruits and nuts for breakfast, lunch, and snacks, you are able to avoid many of the landmines that can sink any dietary campaign. The midday snacks of refined carbohydrates (chips, candies, breads, pastries, soda) cease to be options for you and so you fill up with other less caloric, more filling, stuff.

    In doing this you probably miss out on 100-500 kcal a day that you would’ve otherwise eaten.

    And this deficit imperceptibly adds up over time into grams, then ounces, and finally pounds of weight loss.

    There is no sudden dropping of weight, and no corporal sensation of deprivation. In fact all there is is the probability that you’re eating a little bit less in calories each day then you otherwise would have.

    And in this way it is sustainable. It’s not really a diet at all. It’s just a smarter way of eating.

    Similarly the dream of early retirement is not often the story of lottery winnings or successful startups. There are usually no eureka moments.

    There are just simple repetitive acts of choice, over and over again, not to spend money on things that don’t bring happiness.

    Just like potato chips don’t make us full (until it’s too late) thoughtless spending usually doesn’t really make us happy (at least in comparison to the freedom that it costs to spend that money.)

    And by choosing over and over again to value our own money primarily for the freedom that it can provide, as opposed to for the disposables that it can buy, we eventually find that our financial needs shrink. And when our needs shrink, our surplus grows. And when our surplus grows, financial pressure dissipates. And in the absence of pressure there exists the potential for freedom and happiness.

    So yeah, the VB6 experiment has ended. But this way of eating will go on for me.

    In this way it seems that eating well and pursuing early retirement were two sides of the same coin for me.

    In both cases early experimentation brought results and the results were positive. And because the results were positive, two things happened naturally.

    The experimentation ended.


    The experiment was replaced by a good habit.

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    Vegan Before 6: Mark Bittman Gets a Cookbook Deal

    Writer Mark Bittman signed a multi-book deal with Clarkson Potter/Publishers; and scheduled for March 2013 is the cookbook VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health?for Good. Bittman has been promoting the whole “vegan before six” angle since at least 2009. According to a press release, the book “will contain an easy-to-follow 30-day diet plan” — but do you really want to take diet advice from a guy who thinks asparagus is in season right now? In his latest op-ed piece, Bittman showed that he’s been drinking the vegan propagandist Kool-Aid — and he’s going to use his New York Times platform to pimp a vegan lifestyle, and hard. Here’s the press release:


    New York, NY (June 27, 2012)—Mark Bittman, an op-ed columnist for the New York Times, lead food writer for the New York Times Magazine, television personality, and bestselling author of
    How to Cook Everything has signed a multi-book deal with Clarkson Potter/Publishers.
    Bittman’s first book with Clarkson Potter, titled VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health?for Good, is set for publication on March 19, 2013, and will be issued simultaneously
    in print and digital formats.
    Building on Bittman’s bestselling food-policy book, Food Matters, VB6 will present in six principles how a partially vegan diet can dramatically improve one’s health and waistline. The book will contain
    an easy-to-follow 30-day diet plan, based on 50 simple everyday recipes, including exclusively vegan meals for breakfast and lunch and flexible options for dinner.
    Clarkson Potter senior vice president and publisher, Pam Krauss, acquired world, serial, and ebook rights from Angela Miller of the Miller Agency.
    Said Krauss, “Mark Bittman is changing the way we buy, cook, and think about food, showing us both how to improve what we prepare in our homes on a daily basis and why it is so critically
    important that we do so. We are thrilled to welcome him to Potter.”
    Said Bittman, “I’m thrilled to be reunited with Random House and especially happy to be on a list with the greatest names in the world of food, and in the capable hands of my long-time friend Pam Krauss.”
    Clarkson Potter is also the publisher of Alice Waters, Martha Stewart, Giada De Laurentiis, Bobby Flay, and Ina Garten.
    Clarkson Potter/Publishers is an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., whose parent company is Bertelsmann AG.

    · All Mark Bittman Coverage on Eater
    · All Cookbook Coverage on Eater

    Vegan before 6 meal plan

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