I Answer Frequently Asked Questions about VB6

vegan-before-6

Photo Credit: Andrew Brusso

Question: I don’t know if I could give up bacon and eggs. How do you brunch on VB6?
Answer: Making the change is not as difficult as you might think. At first I craved a bagel with cream cheese or bacon. But my habits changed after a few weeks, and now I enjoy my VB6 breakfasts as much as I did the old ones. Oatmeal with fruit, a smoothie, or fruit salads are all great brunch options.

Q: What was your inspiration for writing VB6?
A:  After five years of success on VB6, I came to really believe in the lifestyle. Then I started to hear from friends and coworkers—even strangers—and realized it wasn’t just a quirky little thing.

Q: Do you have a favorite spicy seitan recipe that is VB6?
A: I like pan-searing, roasting, or grilling setian and then tossing it in sauces or stir-fries.

Q: What’s a favorite go-to vegan lunch for you?
A: I don’t have go-tos; I pretty much cook what I’ve got. But I would say my most frequent lunch is either chopped salad, if I have a bunch of veggies laying around; and if I don’t, I almost always have cooked beans and grains, so I’ll throw something together with them. Having said all of that, it’s rare that I’m home for lunch, so I hit a salad bar or go out for falafel.

Q: What’s your favorite vegan food when you’re on the road?
A: The road is really the challenge. I wind up with salads, sometimes in a wrap; bean burritos; or if there’s a supermarket nearby, raw vegetables and hummus.

Q: What’s the most common misconception about vegan cooking
A: People sometimes think vegan food is rabbit food. But this is real food. Fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes—you have plenty of options.

Q: Did you develop a newfound appreciation for vegetables after switching to VB6?
A: I’ve always loved vegetables. But something I came to appreciate was the unlimited quantity of fruits and vegetables I could eat.  Since vegetables and fruits are filled with fiber and water, portion size really doesn’t matter.

Q: Did you notice that your cravings for certain foods changed after going VB6?
A: Honestly, after a few months of VB6, my cravings did change. I found myself eating fewer animal products even at dinner, and I was less interested in sweets.

Q: What’s your favorite source of protein on a vegan diet?
A: I’m a big fan of legumes—especially white beans, lentils, and chickpeas. I eat most of them daily. Nuts and nut butters are also ideal for snacking. There’s nothing better than an apple with almond butter.

Q: Is there a scientific reason you chose 6:00 p.m. as the time to begin eating animal products?
A: The point of VB6 is to eat more plant food and fewer animal products.  You can adjust the time to fit your lifestyle.

Q: What are your favorite small go-to snacks?
A: Fruit is nature’s original 100-calorie snack packs. Raw or roasted nuts are also a good snack in moderation.

Q: Is VB6 a way to transition into all-day everyday veganism?
A: Some people may start with VB6 and find they prefer the vegan lifestyle. But I—and many omnivores like me—have no interest in becoming full-time vegan. And that’s fine.

Q: Tips for juggling VB6 with small kids in the house?
A: If you’re already cooking for your family, you’re off to a good start because you have the power to help everyone around the table eat better. For sure, keeping everyone happy during mealtimes might take a little extra work in the beginning, but lots of people like you have done it! I’ve provided tips for cooking for families and children in the “Personalizing Your Approach to VB6” section of the book.

Q: What do you think will be the biggest barrier to people moving into veganism?
A: The processed-food industry makes dietary change a huge challenge by spending billions marketing highly processed sugar-and-fat-laden foods that are most harmful to our health. They want us to overconsume junk, and we comply. 

Q: I enjoy using family dinner leftovers for lunch—works for frugality, but not always VB6. How can I be healthy without being wasteful?
A: There are lots of options here. Adjust your favorite dinner recipes to be VB6 friendly so you can eat them for lunch. Make the food you love in smaller quantities so you don’t have meat-based dishes tempting you during the day. Cook animal foods separately from plant foods and store them separately so you can focus on the vegetables for next day’s breakfast or lunch. The possibilities are endless. 

Q: How many recipes are in VB6?
A: There are 60 recipes for vegan breakfasts, lunches, and snacks, as well as non-vegan dinners.

Q: Any tips on using vegetable stock? I keep trying different ones and still haven’t found one I like as much as chicken stock.
A: Nowhere is the gap between homemade and store-bought greater than with vegetable stock. If you’re going to use store-bought, you might as well just use water. I have a quick and easy recipe for vegetable stock in the book, and it’s infinitely better than what you’d find in the store.

Q: Suggestions for lunches more filling than green salads?
A: Yes, tons of suggestions. Eating nothing but green salads is unsustainable. VB6 contains several simple, delicious vegan lunch recipes, and there are a countless number of options beyond those in the book. It just requires a bit more planning.

Q: Chocolate—how dark and how much to eat?
A: The best chocolate for recipes as well as indulging is dark chocolate with 60 percent or higher cocoa content. But don’t overdo it.

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51 Comments

  1. Ebg said...

    I bought your book last Tuesday when it came out. I gotta be honest I haven’t lost a lot of weight yet but I didn’t buy it for that reason. It is such a good practice for healthier eating and I find it an extremely easy way to live. I think the problem with most “diets” is sustainability but this is so easy to incorporate into ones lifestyle. It makes you conscience of food choices and leaves you with much less desire for sugary, salty, fatty processed foods. It’s wonderful and I’m so glad you wrote this for me!!! (Just kidding about that but it really does feel like you knew what I was looking for!) beautiful book! Many many thanks for my healthier life!

  2. Leslie Nassau said...

    Mark, You and I are on a first-name basis at our house at dinnertime. Thanks.

    Looking to lose weight and quit the cravings. Leaving the moral part of eating dairy out of this, is it OK to use plain yogurt instead of the rice/oat/nut milks? If not, why? To me, the milks are sweet and feel like empty calories. The yogurt would add some heft.

    Thanks.
    Leslie

  3. Anne Harris said...

    You might want to do a column on the food offered at places like the senior community I inhabit. It abounds in red meat, eggs, bacon and (turkey) sausage, and both sweet and sugar-free pies and cakes. Although fruits, bean soups (made with meat broth) and vegetables are usually available upon request, I still find it hard to select a consistently healthful, varied diet. Since we ambulatory inmates get “free” breakfast and one other meal, I mostly skip dinner, as being the most tempting and perilous, and make something for myself at night. – In addition, all social events and meetings here are accompanied by platters of sweet and fatty snacks, so I avoid them (not hard, I’m naturally solitary.) There are plenty of fat people here on walkers or in wheelchairs!

  4. Numa said...

    Hi, Mark.
    Ever since I first heard youon the BBC Radio’s Food Programme I made a mental note of your name. Then just last week I heard you on the Food Revolution Summit. Thank you. It’s been well worth making a note of your name. May many people benefit from your work.
    Numa

  5. Mark said...

    Mark:

    I love what you’re doing conceptually, and your interviews are outstanding. I think you are accomplishing great good in encouraging people to pay attention to how WHAT they eat is affecting the planet (let alone, the cruelty to animals).

    However, using the term “vegan” as you do is quite offensive (and rightly so) to many vegans, who use the term with a specific meaning concerning animal products. To them, “part-time vegan” is insulting, especially after all the scorn and ridicule we go through (or have gone through) for so many years.

    Perhaps calling yourself “part-time plant-based” would be a much more accurate, and less flagrant misuse of the term “vegan.” You can still promote your approach to diet, help a lot of people, and distinguish what you are doing from veganism.

    You are NOT a vegan before 6pm, you are following a plant-based diet during that period of time. You “eat plants” before 6pm. Being vegan is more than diet.

    I hope you think about this and take it seriously.

    Best regards (sincerely) for all you do, Mark

    • David Ricardo said...

      C’mon man.

      Mark can use the term Vegan if he wants to, it does describe what he does. You should not be offended.

      David R.

      • Denise said...

        Perhaps the reason vegans receive scorn and ridicule is because of their sanctimonious approach instead of generously sharing ideas on how to eat healthier for themselves and the planet. I do realize from experience that eating 100% vegan does require strict religious discipline which might contribute to why less people are able to stick to the program and why those that do feel they have reached a level of sainthood which elevates them above the common person.

    • PatConVos said...

      There is a difference between “Vegan” and “vegan”. Vegan (with a little v) is defined as avoiding the consumption of animal-derived foods. Eating vegan is not the same as committing to a Vegan identity. I agree with the person who responded saying that strict religious fervor is required in “being” Vegan, and that is why, in my experience, Vegans tend to be as black and white about the world as are religious fundamentalists. They cannot allow any interpretation or variation to creep in. It’s an orthodox philosophy. Some have even started using the word “orthorexia” to describe diets that become so specific. Also? I have not met a single orthodox Vegan who doesn’t have some sort of physical challenge clearly connected with long-term Veganism (Reynaud’s, asthma, Hashimoto’s, infertility, eczema, the list is long, take your pick…), that they are, ironically, trying to cure through their way of eating. As a clinical psychologist, when a patient tells me they are Vegan, I know to suspect eating disorders, not to mention a whole slew of mental problems related to long-term B-vitamin deficiencies.

    • jeff said...

      Who died and made you the keeper of the word Vegan. Calm down.

  6. Arlene Rosso-Baron said...

    Admittedly I’ve never made my own vegetable stock but ever since I found “Better Than Bouillon,” I use that. No doubt homemade stock is superior, but all the different flavors of B Than B are very satisfying.

  7. Sue Flora said...

    I’m new to this. Can you explain why the VB6 diet is better for you than other ways of eating? We’ve always tried to eat healthy, but need to lose some weight.

    • Dave said...

      Er what? Why don’t you take 5 minutes to read what it’s about before posting up asking why it’s a better way of eating. I’m sure the synopsis will allow you to make an informed decision as to whether you should buy the book or not. Take a look on Amazon where it allows you to “look inside” the book.

  8. Eric Olsen said...

    Regarding chocolate consumption, I think an excellent way to benefit from it is to incorporate raw cacao into recipes. For example, I use raw cacao in my steel cut oatmeal every morning and I use it in a pudding made with almond milk, banana, dates and chia seeds. Seems to me a much better alternative than chocolate bars, though I do enjoy a square of high quality chocolate, too!

  9. CA Lonergan said...

    Q: Will you release a paperback version of VB6 at some point? (If so, when – ‘ballpark’ est. is fine)
    Looking forward to it… thank you for sharing your experience-cum-template for living/eating better.

    :-D

  10. Ellen Weeks said...

    I am gluten/dairy free (not by choice!), so going vegan is particularly challenging because many meat substitutes are made of gluten. Suggestions?

    • Steph Mignon said...

      Beans, beans and more beans!

    • Ttrockwood said...

      Meat substitute products are not what mark is advocating here, and as a vegan myself i rarely purchase those fake-meat foods.
      That said, “quorn” is a great brand with plant based ingredients that are wholesome. Tempeh is a soybean/rice combo that is a high protein option, and of course all beans and legumes and tofu. There are many gluten free vegan blogs if you google a bit.

  11. Sayoko said...

    I love my cup of coffee in the morning. Was that hard for you to give up? Do you have any suggestions?

    • Leah said...

      Why would you have to give up coffee?

    • PatConVos said...

      I’m wondering if the idea of giving up your morning coffee is connected with wanting milk in it. This has been an ongoing issue with me. I always found it difficult to drink coffee without milk or cream, but then discovered cold brewed coffee. I have a gadget called an “Hourglass” (which is, unfortunately, no longer available for purchase), and I brew coffee in cold water overnight. What you get is a coffee extract that is much lower in bitterness than hot-brewed coffee, and not lacking in any flavor. I use about two shots for a large mug, and it seems to do the job. I save my coffee with cream/milk for an after-dinner dessert.

      • *d said...

        Almond milk made at home is an incredibly satisfying Dairy alternative.

  12. J.D. Yeager said...

    Hi Mark,

    I have a question I did not see addressed in the book (or maybe I missed it.) On what daily waking/sleeping schedule do you base the 6:00 PM mark? Or, perhaps more importantly, how many hours vegan, how many potentially non-vegan, assuming a ~16-hour waking day?

    I wake ~3:00 AM for work, asleep by 8:00 or 9:00 PM, trying to figure out the appropriate VB6 time adjustment, also considering putting the vegan hours at the front part of my day.

    Thanks,

    JDY

    • J.D. Yeager said...

      Oops. I meant to say, at the end, “considering putting the vegan hours at the END part of my day,” i.e., non-vegan for the first x hours of the day, vegan ’til bedtime….

    • Noralee said...

      I too need the time limits addressed. How long is allowed to eat our “relaxed meal” and can we eat vegan later in the evening as snacks before bedtime? Someone please answer us.

      Mark, are you out there? ;o)

  13. David Ricardo said...

    How much of a compromise is say, Vegetarian before noon, piscaterian (fish, no meant) before 6?

    Not being either Vegan or Vegitarian I don’t know the reason for foregoing dairy, eggs and other items to go from Vegetarian to Vegan. How much benefit health wise is being Vegan vs. Vegitarian?

    • PatConVos said...

      My hunch is that it has something to do with keeping part of your day free from the “fat-salt-sugar” triad that some have identified as being strongly correlated with weight gain and obesity. If you’re eating plant-based foods most of the day, the brain doesn’t get that “perfect combination” of salt-fat-sugar that Big Food is pushing through highly processed food. Much has been written and discussed lately on the addicting effect that salt-fat-sugar in just the right combinations have on the brain of humans, as well as other mammals. This is why most people will not binge on carrots, apples, green leafy’s, sugar snap peas, or even lean meats, but give them trail mix or potato chips with dip, and they cannot control their portions.

  14. Lee Huntrods said...

    I’ve got the VB6 book, day 2 still doing good. I like to use a little Splenda in my coffee. Is this ok?

  15. Bobby Miller said...

    Mark, Your book, HOW TO COOK EVERYTHING, has been my “go-to” source of info for years now. Also loved your trip to Spain with your other contemporary icons….bought the DVD and book also!! This new book is just what the doc ordered. I plan to use it and give some as gifts to my good buddies who seek a higher calling re their food intake. Enjoyed immensely reading your MINIMALIST columns for years. Love your You Tube presentations! Thank you so much for Mark Bittman!

  16. Betty Rhodes said...

    A huge fan…you’re lookin’ good!!

  17. Linda Albert said...

    How about some help for those of us who are soy and gluten-free? Need more recipes that avoid foods with gluten and soy.

  18. Beverly Siek said...

    Mark, I’ve just started reading the book and can’t wait to get started. What a refreshing way to look at lifestyle changes…..develop an eating and nutrition plan that fits your lifestyle, instead of trying to make your lifestyle fit a predefined weight loss plan. I’ve done many of the weight loss plans over the years and as you’d guess, regained the weight because the changes required by the plans did not fit over the long haul. VB6 is so workable and makes so much sense to me. Thanks for sharing your experience and being so proactive. I am glad to see more emphasis being placed on the importance of less processed foods.

  19. Committed in Philadelphia said...

    Entering Day 5 of VB6 approach to my life and here is what I am seeing: just now starting to feel a little different physically but feeling LOTS different mentally. That stands to reason: I’m committed and living the commitment. That always feels good. Back to black coffee after years of latte-ing it. So far, not as big a deal as I would have predicted. I love, love, love the ability to tell myself throughout the day that I can have the things for dinner I really want without obsessing over the ingredients. So last night had 4 mushroom stuffed raviolis with a portobello sauce and an arugula and lettuce salad with light honey mustard dressing. And I enjoyed EVERY BITE!! Looking forward to the months and years ahead.

  20. Hitfan said...

    I saw you on the Bill Maher show yesterday. I liked the format of the panel, there was very little talking over each other as it happens when you have panelists with opposing viewpoints.

    I think that the optimal diet is something along the lines of mostly vegetables and meat. I went low carb a few years ago, but I found that I replaced bread with cheese as my main staple of my diet and now I think my body is reacting violently to it. I might not have officially diagnosed dairy intolerance, but one can abuse a certain food so much that you will react to it. I think a normal person would notice the negative effects of peanuts if they ate a big bag of peanuts every day for a few years.

    So I cut dairy cold turkey a couple of weeks ago, and now carrots and vegetables are my main staple (but i still eat meat and eggs). I definitely feel an improvement in my joints and such. I might go back to dairy some time in the future, but for now, I want to detox from years of cheese consumption for a while.

    But I’ve always wondered how do I eat more of the good things, while eating less of the not-so-good things? I might decide to cheat for breakfast, but then I’m invited to a dinner party and I have to be a downer and say “sorry, I already had that bad food for breakfast and I’m watching what I eat”. Most social activities occur in the evening.

    Staying vegan for part of the day until a designated time is a pretty clever way to increase the amount of vegetables (the good food which paleos, low carbers and gluten free people are all in agreement that you should eat more of) in your diet and allowing yourself to cheat. The designated time to allow yourself the cheat meal of the day provides structure.

    So why not have eggs for dinner? By having a light vegan breakfast, one is more alert for the rest of the day.

  21. Mary said...

    Thank you for the book — as you wrote, we all know what to do to be healthy, just need a good game play.
    One question: where are the berries!!? I hope I can pencil them in under unlimited fruit!
    Thank you again!

  22. Mike Avery said...

    Vegan is the name for a philosophy that wants to eliminate cruelty to animals. As a result, they don’t eat meat, feeling it is murder. They don’t drink milk, eat eggs or consume honey as those involve animal slavery. Similarly, they don’t wear leather, fur or feathers. Being a part time vegan is like being a part time pacifist or a Christian who doesn’t believe in Christian. You can be a part time vegetarian. With no qualifications, vegetarian means “doesn’t eat meat.”

  23. Ruth Bell said...

    I haven’t seen the new book yet but have found your How to Cook Everything–Vegetarian immensely useful and influential in my kitchen. (The Dal recipes alone worth the price of the book!) And before that, enjoyed the Minimalist columns and those wonderful collections of recipes for certain seasons or holidays. Ever since reading Frances Moore Lapee’s Diet for a Small Planet in the 1970s, I (and my family) have followed a low-meat or a part-time vegetarian diet, such as you recommend. But why no plain yoghurt with the morning oatmeal? It’s filling, nutritious, good for one’s digestion, and provides some needed calcium.

    • PatConVos said...

      If you like something creamy with your oatmeal, try So Delicious plain coconut kefir. It is truly wonderful. It isn’t too coconutty, in case that bothers you. It substitutes beautifully for yogurt, buttermilk, etc. I like it with strawberries, blueberries, and a sprinkle of raw pumpkin seeds, an excellent accompaniment for steel cut oats.

  24. PT SHERM said...

    My blood sugar goes up on this diet? What can you suggest?

    • Donna LeValley said...

      As long as you’re sure you don’t have any medical issues with your blood sugar, I would suggest try doing better job balancing the carbs you eat with protein, good fats and fiber. Eating the three along with your carbs will help you avoid a spike. Also, you may or may not know this, but blood sugar always rises after you eat. That’s how your body processes food. The important thing is how high it goes and how long it takes to get back to your normal range.

  25. Donna LeValley said...

    I was fortunate enough to be an audience member the day you appeared on “The Chew” and received a copy of VB6. I wanted to buy the book and I enjoyed it immensely. It’s a diet I generally eat anyway except I don’t eat meat. The recipes and tips are fantastic.

    I hope more people embrace this approach. It’s truly about enjoying good food that’s good for you. I love wine and a good desert and if people simply ate and drank in moderation there wouldn’t be anything you need to completely avoid.

    I recently given up soda. And it wasn’t an issue of being hooked or drinking too much, I only had one 12 ounce beverage a day, it was about the long term insulin issues and dental health. After turning 40, I felt I needed to further clean up my diet and make the most of the foods I ate. Prevention is the best and cheapest medicine.

  26. annette hatch said...

    So, I’ve been following VB6 for 10 days and I’m just fine eating like this, I really did this to lose weight as I don’t like the number on the scale. 20 pounds would be nice. My “normal” way of eating is not horrible either. But today I got on the scale and gained a pound! After 10 days I should be going in the other direction, right?

  27. Carol Stanger said...

    I notice in your Homemade Cold Cereal recipe, you include rolled oats without cooking.
    Do you mean quick cooking rolled oats? I thought that rolled oats, like steel cut oats,
    had to be cooked to be edible.

    Thank you.

    • Chris said...

      The Homemade cereal is great! I make it with Quaker old fashioned oats and soak it with almond milk for 5 minutes before eating as suggested in the book.

  28. richard said...

    My wife and I are just starting VB6. She loves a piece of toast in morning. We are trying to find the best whole grain bread for this and are willing to cook our own. Is there a recipe for a VB6 friendly bread or a brand that is any better than others?
    TIA.

  29. PS said...

    I tried VB6 for 2 weeks in June and noticed the benefits — 2-3 lbs of weight loss and better morning blood sugars. I mention blood sugars because I am a type 1 diabetic (for about 6 years). I’ve also been a lifelong vegetarian who actually started eating fish after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes out of desperation for low carb calories. I found VB6 led to lower daytime blood sugars for me which was great, bu sometimes only at the risk of borderline starving because the combo of vegan and decent glycemic index meant I was not filling myself. What recipes/advice can you suggest for someone like me who wants to be VB6 but can’t eat a lot of pasta, bread, bananas, etc.?

    Thanks!
    Purvi

  30. Charlie McDonald said...

    I’ve lost 16 pounds since starting VB6 about 10 weeks ago. A lot of weight flew off in the first two weeks. I definitely gain a pound or two when I sometimes cheat on weekends, but then it’s gone by the end of the week of staying with the plan.

    I found it super easy because I realized I was already eating vegan for breakfast so all I had to modify were my lunches.

    I’m aiming to lose a total of 50 pounds by January 1st. At a slow, steady rate of two pounds per week, I feel like it’s achievable.

    My questions are: At what point did you stabilize and remain the same weight? And did you have many plateaus during your weight loss before your final stable weight?

    Thank you for publicizing your diet. This is the first one I tried because it’s not a diet in my mind and because it sounded like something I could do. I’m very pleased with the results.

  31. Galina said...

    Hi Mark, is there any chance to see your book in my country and in my language.I am from Bulgaria.

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