Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Dieting is a preoccupation of most adult Canadians and Americans.  By dieting I mean going off your eating routine and eating by a number of rules.  The problem for most of us is that the regimentation eventually becomes too difficult to continue.  And before you know it we are back to our unhealthy habits.

Mark Bittman, a food writer for the New York Times is well aware of this cycle and is on a job where it is very easy to eat an unhealthy diet. His job also gives him time to think about what would be a healthier diet.

Motivation is crucial and Mark deals with it from different angles. The biggest obstacle is the big change and the tight restrictions required by a defined diet.  There is no getting around it most weight reducing diets are a form of torture for many of us.  The idea of having one meal free of most restrictions makes it more bearable.  Mark is also understanding that we all have cravings for things that are not healthy.  He gives you permission to indulge once in awhile.

A vegan diet is healthier than the typical North American diet, but is unappealing to most.  Being healthy is only one of its merits, though and Mark appeals to environmental concerns.  Livestock is a major contributor to greenhouse gases.  Most people don't stop to realize that livestock converts a lot of plants to meat, but the plants could more efficiently feed a larger number of people.  Plus methane from manure is a very significant greenhouse gas.

Mark is advocating a life style change recognizing that it is a more difficult sale than giving desperate people a short term restrictive diet to achieve a goal (however temporary).  The core of the book is to switch from processed foods and meat to more fruits and vegetables and the greater the shift the better.  He also feels that the effort will get easier as time flows.  Ultimately the more effort you put into anything the more you are likely to benefit.

My own experience has been somewhat like a yo-yo diet.  I have in fact on two occasions lost over 30 pounds in a period of a few months, maintained weight for a few years, but found myself gradually reverting to old habits.  The least painful diet was a high fibre diet and later followed by the Fit for Life diet.  Both have had a long lasting effect on me in the fact that I do eat more fruits, vegetables and more fibre and less meat.  Unfortunately I have not lost my interest in meat or sugar and deal with stress by compulsively eating comfort foods.

Mark is aware of this tendency and tries to provide healthy alternatives by way of attractive recipes and dealing with guilt feelings when we let down.  The world has opened up and we are now aware of a much greater variety of food options.  It is true that food corporations have made a science of enticing us to eat very tasty food and delivering greater profit for the shareholders.

Mark wants you to enjoy tasting your food and encourages spices to improve the flavor.  Chewing slowly can be part of the strategy as it helps give a feeling of satisfaction before you have over eaten.

Synopsis:  VB6 requires commitment to eat more plant food, including whole grains; eat less animal products and processed foods and eat much less junk food.

I am glad I read Mark's book and listened to him on the radio.  A life style change has appeal and I have been made a few minor painless changes already and am seriously considering making bigger moves.  If you are conscious of your own bad habits you would do well to read his book and help you move in a better direction.  It is workable if you are willing to give it some effort.

You can see that Mark enjoys food and you can too.  Check out his website

Some thoughts on what happens to farm animals when we convert to veganism:

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