Book Review: VB6

I've always been a huge fan of Mark Bittman.  I always read all of his food articles, so when I saw VB6 (Vegan Before 6) on display at the library, I snatched it up.

VB6 is Bittman's own diet plan, or healthy eating advice that advoctes for a vegan diet before 6 pm.  After 6 pm, you can eat all of the animal products you want.  What makes this book better than any other diet books I've seen is that he advocates a sustainable, easy system to lose weight and to eat healthier, with the main emphasis being on the "healthy" and not the "weight."  

As a nutrition student, I appreciated how much science he incorporated into his text.  He explains why there are some types of fats that are good for you and some that aren't.  He goes into the difference between LDL and HDL cholesterol: a distinction I didn't understand until I took organic chemistry, but one that he explains beautifully.  He discusses what makes a bad carb "bad" and a good carb "good."  He also talks about long, term sustainable goals and how to mentally prepare yourself for a healthier lifestyle.

A lot of this information wasn't new to me, but at one point, it was.  I made the switch to a plant-based diet about 3 years ago, but before then, I was just as confused about what to eat as the next guy.  I would have certainly loved to have had this book then.

As for the rules of the diet, they're easy:

  1. Eat mostly plants (fruits, vegetables and whole grains).  
  2. Treat animal products a side dish or garnish, not the main event.
  3. No more junk food.  If the food you're eating has a paragraph-long list of what's in it, don't eat it.  This includes so-called "health" foods like energy bars and granola bars.  
  4. Cook at home as much as possible.  This way you know what you're eating and control for anything you don't want to be in your food.
  5. Choose quality over quantity.  It's better to buy that grass-fed, organic and humanely raised steak for $10 a pound than the factory-farmed, abused, grain-fed steak for $1.99 a pound.
  6. Don't define your health by the number on the scale.

As for the "vegan before 6" part of the diet, this can chance based on who you are and when you eat dinner.  If you eat dinner at 6, then stick with the 6 pm.  If you eat at 9, maybe go with "vegan before 9 pm."  What I took away from this though, is that it has nothing to do with the time of day that you're being vegan, just that you're eating more plant-products and much less animal products.  So if you want to be vegan before 9 am and after 4 pm, that's probably fine too.  The cool thing about this plan is that it's not actually a plan.  There are no set meals to eat when and no cutting out carbs or fat or whatever else.  It's adjustable to your lifestyle, and that makes me think it has the capacity to actually work.

Did you read this book?  What did you think?