by Marion Nestle
May 3 2013

Bittman’s VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00

Mark Bittman’s new book, Vegan Before 6:00 or, as he likes to call it, VB6, is now out.

I like this idea.  For starters Bittman is an omnivore, not a vegan.  As he points out, he’s

Someone who has built an entire career on my love of cooking and eating good food.  And VB6 is the way I eat now, and have for six years…VB6 is also realistic…it also maintains that you can love food that tastes good—and eat a lot of it—while you improve your health.

…But you don’t help to go VB6…you need only a commitment to refrain from animal products and hyperprocessed foods until dinner time.

Good idea.  It worked for him and should work for others.

If you are in New York and want him to sign a copy, Bittman is being interviewed tonight at 7;00 p.m. by Sam Sifton at the Barnes & Noble on 17th Street.

  • Gotta love it … another fad diet concept that will be a best-seller.

    It just gave me an idea for my next book title … YES – B6 – (Yogurt, Eggs, and Satiety – Before 6)

    Ken Leebow

  • I have to agree with Ken’s snark on this. . . why would this concept work for for everyone? As someone who mostly eats plants, I have to say that I would faint dead away if I tried to write and work all day on no animal proteins, which provide a lot of energy.

  • The biggest problem with the way nutrition information is packaged and sold today: “It worked for him and should work for others.”

  • Stephanie

    I would love to hear your opinion on the copious amount of science that he presents in the early pages of the book. I love his writing – so easy to understand – but being a non-scientist I don’t have any way to judge the quality of the science he explains. Can you help?

  • FarmerJane

    On the cusp of the 5 year Farm Bill, as we NY dairy farmers try to speak with NYC food movement groups, some of their leadership quotes Bittman to us. At the end of March, we Upstate farmers drove five hours to speak with NYC food leaders at the Just Food conference. Even as we openly told them that we went out on a limb to leave our farms to drive to Manhattan to talk with them, they simply ignored us, and kept handing out Bittman VB6 posters. Some told us that they drink only almond, rice and soy milk. I am beginning to think that NY’s dairy farmers (there are 5,400 of us, average farm is 113 cows, tending millions acres of Upstate lands) are trying to talk with the wrong people. Part of Bittman’s approach informs food leaders that it is perfectly fine to formulate farm policy without talking to the actual farmers of your region.

    Under federal milk market milk price setting rules, even minor variations in milk consumption throw milk pricing into chaos. The small farms that many in the food movement laud are the most vulnerable to these swings. In NY, we are losing dairy farms rapidly in the Catskills, the Mohawk Valley, the Southern Tier, the Saratoga region and more. Please don’t come upstate and tell these farmers not to frack if you have zero support for them as you buy into whatever celebrity chef fad diet comes along. Why is there no pride in the beautiful dairy farms of NY that supply your Greek Yogurt, your daily milk, soft cheeses and more? Why do food movement people look to celebrity chefs instead of speaking with the grassroots farmers who humbly tend NY’s lands?

  • I agree with the criticisms laid against the “It worked for him and should work for others” line. The last thing we need is another diet/lifestyle book that is based on personal experience, and having nutritional professionals pass it off that way only makes it worse. I would like to see it fare against other diets in an actual trial, making note of the outcomes both in health and in satisfaction, and the dropout rate. Personal experience does not convince me.

    My wife is completing her dietetics degree and we joke about writing a book called “The Buffalo Wing Diet” to make fun of weird rules that form the basis of fad diets and their associated philosophies. You can lose weight eating buffalo wings as a reward for meeting your goals, and you can lose weight eating no animal products before 6 pm (Impossible for me as a cheese-loving beekeeper, sorry), the key thing is that people pay attention to their diet and way of life.

  • Bunnee

    While I think the concept of eating more vegetables and legumes and less meat is worthwhile, and I make an effort in that direction myself, I find many of his “healthy” approaches include way too much salt. A fresh vegetable soup has nearly one day’s worth of sodium – for one serving! There is less salt in a bag of tortilla chips. How is this healthy?

  • PraiseTheLard

    I have to agree. Bittman’s lost a lot of credibility with me. That’s a shame.

  • Tim

    I’m a little bit disappointed too, that Marion promotes something what obviously seems to be just another fad diet book…

    No, it wouldn’t work for everyone! The single most significant change I have made to my diet concerning weight loss, was to have a big bowl of plain, homemade yogurt for breakfast.

  • Ursula

    I agree with farmerjane and others who are pointing out the misrepresentation going on here.

    The eaters live in a urban fairy tale of ‘fresh and local’, predicated by celeb food writers/chefs pronouncing the latest habitation of a diet that allows you to indulge in guilt free overeating – “you can love food that tastes good—and eat a lot of it—while you improve your health”. I would like to see these urban hipsters grow their own stuff. Better yet, get out of the city and assist or intern or vacaction on an upstate farm for a few days or weeks. Get up at 4 am to get that fresh, tasty and local food to you. Yeah. Bittman, I used to have great repect for you, but this book is just the musings of a middle aged privileged (transplanted) Mannhattanite.

  • It’d be great if kids could have an unprocessed vegan option for the food they get at school.
    Adults have been trained to eat the way they do as children (including, likely, above commenters!)
    I’ve eaten a lowfat vegan diet for years. has good info on how to stay longterm healthy as a vegan.

  • jc

    Delicious vegan food is one reason why the number of vegans has doubled in less than 3 years. Here are two uplifting videos that will help people understand just some of the implications of this lifestyle: and

  • My sister is an RD and the bottom line she see with clients is that diets don’t work…fad or otherwise. She tries to teach them the make healthy long term lifestyle changes that will make an impact instead.

  • Bittman is off the mark here. This goes to say what people do for a few bucks.

    Skip it.

  • I really dislike these little sound bite philosophies.

    Eat vegan before 6.

    Eat food. Not too much. Mainly plants.

    Eat local.

    It’s so easy to grab hold of these simplistic views, rather than taking the time to understand, truly understand, how much our food choices impact the world around us.

    But we don’t have to think. We can just ride whatever is the next popular food meme and feel righteous.

    So, let’s chow down on 12 ounces of industrialized steak at 6, but it’s all OK because we ate vegan before hand. Seriously?

  • Jen

    My friends told me I should read this book to get motivated and be healthier .Well I haven’t read the book yet, but I’m planning on buying it. I’ve heard good reviews and it seems inspiring.

  • Really i am a big foody and i know this book will help me more about the food. Is this book available in India and how much it will cost to me.

  • Stephanie

    I just finished the book and I think it is a force for good. For people with no food or nutrition education, a guidebook like this one will help to point them toward more fruits, vegetables, grains and beans – all good things. Bittman’s advocacy for cooking is heroic and greatly appreciated.

  • Nobody eats anything before 6:00, we’re all still asleep!

  • Library Spinster

    I read the book yesterday. The idea of eating more plants, less meat, and avoiding processed foods has merit, but the trademarked VB6 approach is too gimmicky for my taste. You can argue that Bittman goes too far and not far enough. Bittman allows the use of honey, Worcestershire Sauce, and fish sauce, saying that they’re “technically” not vegan, but the amount of animal products is minimal. I doubt that most vegans would agree. A lot of the recipes are carb heavy to this generally diet compliant diabetic. What works for me is somewhat opposed to the VB6 philosophy: if I’m going to have a treat, it’s going to be in the afternoon of my day off, so that I’ll be able to minimize the effects through exercise (and a dinner on the light side, if need be).

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