Sit down. Strap in. Caffeinate (if you’re into that).
I gotta get something off my chest.
Anyone reading my posts for a while will know that I’m not one to shy away from speaking out about bull***t.
I know it’s great to always be positive and if you haven’t got anything nice to say then don’t say anything and blah blah blah…
I like to think I’m raising awareness of the BS so you can dodge it, which IS positive! 🙂
The particular piece of BS I’m referring to this time is a book called ‘VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6.00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health For Good,’ by a populist ‘author’ called Mark Bittman. It actually came out in 2013. I initially ignored it and just spewed fire inwardly whenever I heard about it, but it’s actually still being talked about and just, well…enough is enough already.
As the title indicates, Bittman reckons that being vegan before six pm, and eating as you please after this time is the way to go to lose weight, gain better health and promote environmental sustainability.
The summary is:
If you’re one of the millions who have thought of trying a vegan diet but fear it’s too monotonous or unfamiliar, or simply don’t want to give up the foods you love to eat, VB6 will introduce a new, flexible, and quite simply better way of eating you can really live with . . . for life.
I know Bittman has some prominent vegans who support this, but I just can’t get behind it.
YES I DO see that this means that some people will eat fewer animal products and I get the argument that any move in this direction is good, I really do, and it IS, but, well…let me explain.
These are my issues with it:
- I feel it will ultimately stop a lot more movement than there could be in this direction. Bittman is a respected, high-profile food writer, and him saying that vegan before 6 is a good idea will totally give lots of his fans the excuse to not go fully vegan. Some of them may not have ever gone vegan anyway, admittedly, but with the force of compelling information consistently trickling in their direction, some may have gone vegan that now won’t. I believe Bittman has stolen some future vegans from the universe!
- It reinforces the myth that veganism is too hard, and says that being partially vegan is so much more manageable. How does Bittman know this if he has never tried to go vegan?
- It reinforces another myth, as seen in headlines like this ‘Mark Bittman’s New Vegan Mantra Leaves Room For Play,’ that there is no ‘play’ or joy in being 100% vegan, that a vegan diet cannot satisfy our need for decadent indulgent food. As a twenty-five year vegan, I find this headline offensive and excruciatingly misinformed.
- I imagine that Mark Bittman KNEW that interest in veganism was growing exponentially year on year. I imagine he also knew that the zillions of meat-loving types who are maybe aware of the arguments for going fully vegan but clinging to old traditions and habits out of ignorance of the delicious reality of a plant-based diet, would be looking for any way they could to avoid making this change. Rather than helping to inform the world of the fact that a plant-based diet is not remotely ‘monotonous and unfamiliar,’ which would have earned him less cash and kudos, certainly, but would have been the truthful thing to do – it really feels like Bittman chose to exploit the meat-addicted market and cashed in. Ugh!
- More evidence that this could have been just about the dosh for Bittman? One of the main motivations that he lists on the front of the book is losing weight. OBVIOUSLY if you tell people they can lose weight but still eat what they want every single day (just after 6) you’ve got yourself a New York Times best seller debuting at number one! In the words of Dr John Mcdougall, people love to be told good news about their bad habits! Sure, I write about losing weight with a plant-based diet and of course I hope to draw people in with this message, because:
A) it’s TRUE! The scientifically-proven, OPTIMAL way to lose weight is with a whole-food, plant-based diet. Flexitarians, (which is really the only word to describe adherents to VB6) according to research studied by Dr Michael Greger are, on average, STILL generally overweight!
B) If it’s what first attracts people’s interest to eating plant-based – that’s fine, it was one of my first motivations. But I couldn’t NOT write about all the benefits of vegan diet – they are all interconnected. For example; if you lose weight, get healthy, feel better about yourself, you’re gonna treat other people better, and your compassion is freed up to become extended to other living beings, like non-human animals.
- Bittman says in an interview in Shape Magazine:
Shape: If someone is extremely active, working out for more than an hour a day, should they be concerned about the amount of protein in their diet when following VB6?
MB: Concentrate on eating protein at every meal. Nuts, legumes, and tofu are vegan foods that have plenty of protein. If you need more concentrated sources of protein, have a steak at night.
Ugh, this totally sends the ERRONEOUS message that only specific plant-foods have protein, and that some people just NEEEEED steak to complete their protein needs. Bittman clearly isn’t aware that nobody NEEEEDS steak, or any type of meat for protein. It’s irresponsible of him as someone with a relatively big profile, to have written this book and be giving advice without being adequately informed.
- Bittman has seemingly co-opted the word ‘vegan’ because it’s zeitgeisty and benefits his agenda. Vegan actually means someone who eschews all animal products, at anytime, ever. NOT JUST BEFORE 6. I know that going vegan is a process, and we can all understandably slip up sometimes. But Bittman isn’t even espousing attempting this process in any meaningful way, just in a way that you can feel a bit better about yourself but carry on screwing up the environment and having animals killed for you AFTER 6. I wish someone owned the word vegan and could sue his (what appears to be) mercenary arse off for this.
- And isn’t vegan before 6 like saying sober, or pregnant before 6? And what does this mean in terms of quantities of meat, dairy and eggs after 6? The whole thing seems to be so ambiguous and vague, check this from Bittman’s website:
Q. There are a lot of common diet mistakes people make. Why is this easier to commit to?
A. Well, I think the cheating is built in. One of the first questions people ask me is “Can I put milk in my coffee? I can’t live without putting milk in my coffee.” And the fact is, I put milk in my coffee and I break the rules all the time. But it’s a common-sense thing. There’s a big difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon of milk or cream in your coffee and two cheeseburgers or a large fry….. but if you follow it [VB6] 60 percent, you’re probably still eating twice as well than if you’re eating a sort of standard American diet. So there’s a lot of wiggle room in here and I think people need to look at the strategy and say, “How do I make this work in my life and how strict do I want to be?” Obviously if you break every rule five times a day, then you’re not doing it. So there’s got to be some adherence to the principles of the strategy, but it doesn’t seem right to say, “Do this or it doesn’t work.”
So you can put milk in your coffee in the morning if you want, and as long as you don’t break EVERY rule FIVE times a day it’s cool.
If the cheating is ‘built in’ and not something that just happens occasionally, what will you really achieve?
‘It doesn’t seem right to say ‘Do this or it doesn’t work’
– Um, but it DOESN’T work if you don’t do this!
‘There’s a lot of wiggle room in here..People [can] say, “how do I make this work in my life and how strict do I want to be?”
– So you really don’t have to be anywhere close to being vegan at ANY time at all then?
And ‘I break the rules all the time,’
– So what is the cotton-pickin’ point then?
This ain’t really being vegan before any hour, let alone 6pm.
It really sounds like Mark Bittman doesn’t want to lose a single sale.
- And saying ‘it’s a common-sense thing?’ – It’s common sense to know that if you eat crap, you get ill and fat. If common sense was an inherent characteristic in us all, there wouldn’t BE so many obese people or people that do dumb things. And what’s common sense to one, ISN’T to someone else. Sense really isn’t that common, it turns out.
We (ME INCLUDED – lest you think I’m being a judgeypants) NEED guidelines and some kind of a structure to thrive. Living plant-based isn’t draconian, it’s just eat anything that grows in the ground (do you even know how many things this includes??) and no being that had life, or their secretions or periods (ha!). That’s it!
Ok, I think I’m all ranted out now! As you were 🙂