Why am I a part-time vegan?
How to Be a Part-Time Vegan
The standard American diet is upside down. More than half of the calories we consume come from junk like soda and doughnuts, overly processed foods like white bread, and the products of industrially raised animals—precisely the foods we should be eating the least of. Six years ago, my doctor told me I had developed the prediabetic, pre-heart-disease symptoms typical of a man who'd spent his life eating this way. "You should probably become a vegan," he said.
A vegan diet is sensible for health and longevity, but isn't realistic or appealing to most of us.
My solution? Become a part-time vegan, following these rules: From the time I wake up until six in the evening, eat strictly vegan recipes and foods, and forgo hyperprocessed food. Past 6 p.m., eat the foods I like. I call this "vegan before six," or VB6. After four months of eating this way, I lost more than 35 pounds and my cholesterol and blood sugar levels were down to a normal range.
Here's why it works: Most plant foods have few calories relative to their weight—that is, they have a lower calorie density. The more water and/or fiber and the less fat in a food, the lower its calorie density. For example: One ounce (about two slices) of cooked thick-cut bacon contains 30 times as many calories as one ounce of romaine lettuce (about half a cup). Processed foods also make your glucose and insulin levels spike, causing a sudden drop in blood sugar that leaves you hungry an hour or two after eating.
Eating mostly carbs in their natural state at dinner—along with small amounts of protein, fat, and fiber—will keep you full until bedtime. And being able to enjoy any food you can't (and shouldn't have to!) live without after 6 p.m. will keep you from feeling deprived.
The Principles of VB6
1. Eat fruits and vegetables in abundance.Fill your fridge with leafy vegetables (lettuce, spinach, chard, and kale), cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts), fruitlike vegetables (tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, and winter squash), and root vegetables (beets, turnips, radishes, and carrots). Starchy vegetables like white potatoes are rich in fiber and nutrients but are quickly broken down into sugar, so eat them once in a while. Whole, unprocessed grains like brown rice, steel-cut or rolled oats, cornmeal, and quinoa are fair game all day long, in moderation. White flour, white rice, and other hyperprocessed grains have lost most of their nutritional properties—think of them as treats.
2. Eat fewer animal products. While they are good sources of protein and micronutrients, they're often higher in saturated fat and cholesterol, and they're calorie dense.
3. Eat (almost) no junk food. Reduce or abandon foods that are unrecognizable as coming from their source, contain ingredients you've never heard of, are ultra high in calories, or are nutritionally useless. If a food contains so many ingredients that the side of the box is a block of print, put it back on the shelf.
4. Cook at home as much as possible.This is the easiest way to control the quality and amount of food you consume: You know exactly how much of every ingredient you're eating.
5. Consider quality over quantity.Fresh produce in season can be quite inexpensive. And frozen produce (often a more nutritious and flavorful option than "fresh" out-of-season produce) may also be less expensive than fresh.
6. See your weight as just one component of good health.The benefits of exercise for physical and mental well-being are immense. Being strong and fit will increase your determination and help keep you committed to VB6.
Broiled Nutty Apples
4 tsp vegetable oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Set the broiler to medium-high heat, with the rack at least 4 inches from the heat source.
Halve apples and scoop out seeds. Rub halves with oil and put them cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil until the skins are blistered and you can pierce with a fork, 3 to 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine spices and salt in a bowl. Turn apples over, sprinkle with spice mixture, and drizzle with syrup. Broil, cut side up, until apples are golden and fully tender, another 2 to 3 minutes; sprinkle with nuts and pass under the broiler again until they just begin to toast, no more than 1 minute. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Makes: 4 Servings
Time: 20 To 30 Minutes
Per serving: 260 cal, 15 g fat (1 g sat), 3 g carbs, 246 mg sodium, 6 g fiber, 3 g protein
2/3 cup soft silken tofu
1 1/3 cups fresh orange juice
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Put all ingredients in a blender and puree until mixture is smooth and sugar is dissolved, 1 to 2 minutes.
Pour mixture into plastic ice-pop molds or paper cups; transfer them to the freezer. (If you use cups, wait about 1 hour, then insert a wooden ice-pop stick into each cup; it should stand upright.) Freeze until pops are completely solid, another 2 or 3 hours. To release, run the mold under cool water for a few seconds to loosen (or peel off the paper cup).
Makes: 4 Pops (6 Oz Each)
Time: 5 Minutes, Plus About 4 Hours Frezing Time
Per serving: 93 cal, 1 g fat (0 g sat), 17 g carbs, 3 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 3 g protein
1 Tbsp Dijon (or other good-quality mustard)
2 Tbsp any wine or sherry vinegar
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
Black pepper, to taste
4 cups cooked or canned lentils, drained
3 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or dill
Mix mustard, vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl with 2 tablespoons water; whisk until well combined.
Add remaining ingredients to the bowl and toss until coated with dressing. Season to taste.
Makes: 4 Servings
Time: 30 Minutes
Per serving: 425 cal, 16 g fat (2 g sat), 53 g carbs, 1,052 mg sodium, 20 g fiber, 21 g protein
Adapted fromVB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health. . .for Good, by Mark Bittman (Clarkson Potter, 2013). Available wherever books and e-books are sold.
Video: PART-TIME VEGAN! 😂 #FEBILY
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