Could You Be a Part Time Vegan? [Book Review]

Vegan before Six - Mark BittmanHere’s a great story. A 55 year old man walks into his doctor’s office for a checkup. The physician, who has know the man for many years, warns him that his cholesterol and blood pressure levels are too high, and that he has about 40 pounds of excess weight. He prescribes one of two options, start taking drugs from now til you last day. Or go vegan.

The middle aged man is stuck between a rock and a hard place. He loves food. How much does he love food? He experiments with recipes for fun. He writes them down. They get published in books. His name is Mark Bittman. And his cookbooks have sold millions of copies. He is also a columnist for the New York Times.

Medication is out of the question for Bittman. And while medically, ethically, and logically he knows he should evolve into a herbivore, he cannot bring himself to give up the steaks, eggs, and cheese.

So what does he decide to do?

Go part time Vegan.

In an experiment that started as a means to improve his health, Bittman dedicated his daytime hours to a plant based diet rich in unprocessed fruits and vegetables, legumes and whole grains. But every evening, starting at around 6pm, he allowed himself to eat whatever he liked. In small portions.

Bittman lost weight, got his blood back to healthy levels, and found the next topic to write a book about. In VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00, he tells his story, provides some nutrition science as a background, then proceeds to what he does best – recipes:

  • Homemade cereal
  • Fruity Nut Butter
  • Turkish Breakfast
  • Chickpea Ratatouille
  • Eggplant Un-Parmesan
  • Carrot Candy

For example: the Fruity Nut Butter takes 5 minutes to make. In a food processor, mix 1 cup of nuts with 2 cups of fresh or frozen peaches and 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice. Once thick and creamy use right away or refrigerate for up to 3 days. YUM!

If you are vegan curious but not ready to commit, check out VB6.

Disclosure: We received a review copy of this book from Bittman’s publisher.

  • Dawn Balzarano

    I’ve been toying with the idea of becoming a part-time vegan, for health reasons and also b/c I simply love vegetarian food… but I’m not ready to give up fish/meat/dairy entirely. Very interesting concept, this. Thanks for sharing. (BTW, the “check out VB6″ link at the end of the article seems to be broken… )

    • Fooducate

      Thanks, fixed the broken link

    • RoadSinger

      I consider myself a part-time vegan. Sadly, I’ve discovered I have and egg intolerance (also, oatmeal and peanuts) but I’ve been eating this way for about 3 months now and I love it. I started by taking a “Green Smoothie Class” to make better use of my Vitamix blender. The woman who taught the class is Kaelyn Pehrson. She’s also an online nutritional coach and guides people through whole food cleansing. I did the 4-week whole food cleanse and that’s how I discovered the things I’m sensitive to. We eliminated anything that might cause sensitivity and then added things back one at at time to check for issues.

      Check out her webpage: I live in Albuquerque where she’s located but we had people in the class from as far away as Portland, Oregon. At this point I eat some dairy and I’m not opposed to eating meat but I’m also happy without it. I feel fantastic!

  • AJ

    What a great story! I’ve always loved Mark Bittmans recipes, he’s my favorite, though I hadn’t known what inspired his creativity in the kitchen. Thanks for sharing this

  • Cora

    I wonder what evidence Bittman shares that eating vegan during the day, and omnivore after 6:00 is any better than the balanced diet he adopted if it were consumed throughout the day in a different sequence. I think it is great that he moved toward a plant-based diet, but Michael Pollan might be kicking himself for not taking his own extraordinarily sage advice — “eat food, not too much, mostly plants…” and slapping a cool name on it, calling it revolutionary and adding another book to store shelves.

    Is there any evidence (without coughing up $15 for the book) that this segmentation of meal time indulgences is better than simply cutting out unhealthy foods and cutting back on the calories?

    In Bittman’s comments on the origins of his diet, he noted concern about Lipitor: “once you start taking it, you don’t stop”. Yes, Lipitor, the crack cocaine of statins. Sounds to me like a scare tactic to buy a book. Stain drugs are a solution for people who choose to lower cholesterol when diet and exercise fail to give sufficient results. Persons at high risk for CAD are advised to have an LDL of 70 or lower (a number almost never achieved by diet alone). It’s great he lowered his cholesterol to a level that pleases his doctor, but there is no need to infer that you cannot stop taking statins. People who need to take statins to get extra low LDL probably will be on them for life. Those who can get the results their doctor likes without drugs should not be on a statin. Bittman’s lack of expertise in science is notable. Google his name and diabetes for more…

    So, we have the happy food writer who admits to having been 40 pounds overweight (that’d be 210 minimum if he’s average height of 5′ 10″) and the doc told him to lose weight or go on meds. Congrats to him for dropping the weight and changing his diet. This looks more like a recipe book than a breakthrough in understanding.

    • Fooducate

      Hi Cora, good points. We agree, the best parts of the book are the recipes (we wrote that in the review). That said, you have to give it to the man, he figured out a solution that worked for himself, and can probably work for others too.

  • Melanie

    I think any dietary moves we make to include more vegetables and plant-based foods will help our health. That, and reducing fat intake, carnitine intake, and sugar intake. Small steps will help, medium steps will help more, and big steps will be best.

  • Jim Corcoran

    Go 24/7! There are many reasons why the number of vegans has doubled in the US in less than 3 years. Here are two uplifting videos to help everyone understand why so many people are making this life affirming choice: and

  • Alfredo

    Part time vegan? That has to be a joke. It’s just a balanced diet.