Best Selling Author Mark Bittman Goes Vegan, Part Time

Chefs, Cookbooks, Recipes, Videos By May 29, 2013

Bittman’s lentil salad is delicious! No deprivation, honest!

Mark Bittman is a part-time vegan. A columnist for the New York Times and author of the best-selling How To Cook Everything cookbooks, Bittman abstains from eating meat, dairy or processed foods until six every evening. Nix before six on alcohol, too.


After six he eats what he likes, usually (but not always) in moderation.

Watch this short video with Mark Bittman as he whips up his vegan lentil salad in my kitchen.


It’s a diet deal he made with himself in 2007 when his doctor told him he needed to make changes in his eating habits. He was pre-diabetic with pre-heart-disease symptoms. His doctor told him he should become a vegan.


“The idea of becoming a full-time vegan was neither realistic nor appealing to someone accustomed to eating as widely and well as I do,” he wrote in his new book “Eat Vegan Before 6:00” (Clarkson Potter, $26). “Furthermore I had no interest in becoming an isolated vegan in a world of omnivores and – though I have vegan friends, to be sure – the world of omnivores is where I live. Full time.”

His plan, which he calls “VB6” for short, resulted in a loss of 35 pounds, a weight-reduction that proved to be sustainable over the long haul. And his blood numbers moved in the right direction, too.


Here’s my shortcut, stop by Trader Joe’s, Gelson’s, Bristol Farms or Mother’s Markets and buy these Melissa’s steamed lentils (usually stocked either in the refrigerated deli or produce department). They are delicious and ready to go! (At Trader Joe’s the label looks different, but the contents are the same.)

Lentil Salad
Yield: 4 servings
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, or to taste
2 tablespoons any wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
Black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons water
4 cups cooked or canned lentils, drained, see cook’s notes
3 large ripe tomatoes (chopped) or about 14 cherry tomatoes (halved)
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, chopped
1 cup chopped carrots or radishes
1 cup chopped celery or fennel
1/2 cup chopped red onion, see cook’s notes
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill or parsley
Cook’s notes: Trader Joe’s, Gelson’s Markets, Bristol Farms Markets and Mother’s Markets sell cooked lentils in Cryovac packaging (in the refrigerated deli); they are delicious and can save a lot of time.
If red onions are strong, to reduce mouth-burn, place in ice water to 20 to 30 minutes and drain before using.
1. Put mustard, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add water and whisk to combine.
2. Add all remaining ingredients to the bowl and toss until coated with dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning; serve. If making salad in advance, cover and refrigerate, but do not add tomatoes and parsley or dill until just before serving. Allow chilled salad to come to room temperature before serving.
Nutrition information (per serving): 425 calories, 16 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 53 g carbohydrates, 21 g protein, 1052 mg sodium, 20 g fiber, 11 g sugars
Source: “Eat Vegan Before 6:00” by Mark Bittman (Clarkson Potter, $26)

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