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Companion to the #1 New York Times Bestseller VB6

Mark Bittman

Photographs copyright © 2014 by Quentin Bacon

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Book Details
 374 p
 File Size 
 5,930 KB
 File Type
 PDF format
 eBook ISBN
 2014 by Mark Bittman

VB6 works in large part because a key aspect of the strategy is
eating and enjoying delicious food—much of it in unlimited
amounts. As someone who regularly both frequents restaurants and
cooks at home I can state this without hesitation: If you cook daily,
or nearly so, you’ll have a far better chance of making long-lasting,
positive change in your diet than if you don’t.
The reasons are fundamental: Preparing your own food is the only
way to know exactly what you’re eating. You control the quality of
the ingredients, the techniques, the seasoning, and the portion sizes.
A 2010 study suggests that you can lose weight while consuming
prepared foods, but that you can lose weight and eat more if you
rely on minimally processed fruits and vegetables, fish, poultry,
dairy, and meats.

I’ve been telling the VB6 story for seven years now, sometimes ten times in a day. I never tire of it.
If anything, the passage of time makes the punch line even more powerful: Eating Vegan Before Six
has turned my life around. For good.
I seem to have created a way of eating that has allowed me—a person who makes his living
writing about eating and cooking—to lose weight quickly and easily, and it has now allowed me to
keep it off for the better part of a decade. Over the years I’ve heard from many, many others that
they’ve made similar transformations.
That’s not how fad diets work.

I started VB6 on my own and on a hunch. There I was, middle aged, overweight but physically
active, and sitting in my doctor’s office going over the numbers. High cholesterol, check. Prediabetes,
check. Overweight, check. Perhaps some of this will sound familiar to you too. My doctor
—a man I’ve known and trusted for 30 years—gave me two choices: Either start taking what amounts
to a lifetime of drugs to counteract the effects of obesity-related diseases, or drastically change my
diet. He suggested that becoming a vegan might do the trick.
Honestly, neither sounded good. I’m against taking drugs for preventable diseases and, given the
importance and variety of food in my life, veganism wasn’t an option. So after planting that seed, my
doctor sent me away to think of something more suitable. Instead I struck a compromise: I’d eat like
an ultra-strict vegan from the time I woke up until dinnertime, and then I’d eat whatever I wanted to.
And that, essentially, is VB6.

The next chapters outline exactly how you’ll be eating, but ultimately there are just two rules to
remember: Rule number one is that from the time you wake until 6 P.M. (or dusk, or dinnertime—any of
those is fine) you eat as a strict, mindful, well-nourished vegan would: no animal products, no junk
food, no highly processed food. Your daytime diet comprises only minimally processed fruits,
vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. (All of this can be “negotiated,” as you’ll see.)
Rule number two is that you do whatever you want for dinner. Including, yes, wine, beer, dessert,
cheeseburgers, whatever (though, within reason) and just until dinner is over, not until midnight.
There’s an obvious and important reason why the impact of VB6 is immediate and profound: It
ensures that you eat more plants and less of everything else. And if there are unifying, credible points
in the trustworthy research of the last 20 years, they are these: We eat too much meat; we eat too much
sugar; we eat too much highly processed food (mostly grains that are metabolized as sugar); and we
don’t eat enough minimally processed fruits and vegetables.
After seven years of VB6 I can say with assurance that there is no downside. When I first started, it
was obvious that VB6 could be in no way harmful, and therefore there was no reason not to try it. In
fact the only surprises were (a) how easy it was and (b) how well it worked.
Now I look back and it seems an almost seamless transition, a move from eating an entirely
undisciplined form of the Standard American Diet (yes, it is indeed SAD) to a malleable but
determined pattern that took some thought during the course of the day but that paid off in both shortterm
pleasure—dinner every night continues to be a source of joy, and now it feels like a reward as
well—and long-term health.

VB6 provides a different, more modern approach to improving the way you eat, and this book
demonstrates just how flexible it can be. If your standard fare is typically American, these recipes
and strategies will change that. In no time—and with little effort—you’ll be consuming fewer hyperprocessed
foods, less industrial meat and dairy products, less sugar, and fewer chemically extracted
oils; and you’ll be consuming more natural antioxidants, micronutrients, phytochemicals, and fiber.
And all of that means you’re likely to be healthier, lighter, more energetic, and in better spirits. It’s
difficult—no, make that impossible—to predict how a change in diet will affect any individual.
That’s true even for a doctor who’s seen you and all your blood work. But among all the confusion
and gobbledygook about health and diet that’s out there, there’s enough evidence to state these three .thing

1 The more plants you eat, in a state as close as possible to natural, the better off you’ll be.
2 The fewer highly processed foods you eat—especially highly processed grains, but other foods
as well—the better off you’ll be.
3 It might be presumptuous to say “the fewer animal products you eat the better off you’ll be.”
But if you’re like most Americans (and we average something like 600 pounds of animal
products per person per year), you could stand to cut back, as we now know that too many
animal products can be bad for your health.

VB6 will take care of all three of those things for you: increase your intake of plants and decrease
your intake of highly processed foods and animal products. If you now eat a standard American diet,
you will be healthier. How that “healthier-ness” will manifest itself is impossible to predict, but you
may lose weight, feel better, see your blood numbers go in the right direction, sleep better, walk
better, all of the above, and more. At the very least, you will probably significantly reduce your risk
of chronic disease. Not bad—in fact, very good.
It’s likely that you’ll see those kinds of changes in two months, perhaps even sooner. But I’m not
going to guarantee specific results in a set period of time because VB6 is not a conventional diet or a
plan with a slew of false promises.

That’s all you need to know to get started. There’s no reason to continue reading if you don’t want
to know anything else; just dive into the recipes. This is, after all, a cookbook. (If you want to know
more about why shifting the balance of your diet more toward plants and away from animals and
processed foods, a great deal more detail is available in the original VB6.)
How long do you “stay on” VB6? For the rest of your life. It’s not a “lose 21 pounds in 21 days” diet
plan, but a diet in the old-fashioned sense of the word: a way of eating. The way you will eat. Period.
You’re not looking for a short-term quick fix, and you won’t have to suffer on a restrictive and
unnatural regimen for long. You are changing the way you eat for better health forever.
VB6 is a permanent commitment to a life that includes the enjoyment of good food and drink while
teaching you the give-and-take necessary to either improve or maintain well-being. And when you’re
healthy, chances are your weight will also be okay; you may not wear the same size you did as a
college freshman, but you will likely strike a weight with which you’ll be comfortable. Good health,
after all, is not about pounds on a scale; rather, appropriate weight is an indicator of good health. And
VB6 will give you that.

Table of Contents

The Unlimited Pantry
The Flexible Pantry
The Treat Pantry
A Month of VB6


Published in the United States by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House
LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York.

CLARKSON POTTER is a trademark and POTTER with colophon is a registered trademark of Random House LLC.
“VB6” and “Vegan Before Six” are trademarks of Double B Publishing, Inc., and may not be used without a license agreement from the owner.

Jacket photographs by Quentin Bacon

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