That may not be the spirit of what Mark Bittman is extolling in his new book "Vegan Before 6," but he does offer a more approachable take on being a vegan. Bittman says he can eat whatever he wants for dinner, though I'm willing to admit that his version of "whatever he wants" is more limited than yours or mine.
Still, Bittman is a believer of meat, just in a supporting role.
You certainly don't have to take "vegan before 6" literally. You can flip the script, eat one meal vegan, add some vegan ingredients, or go part-time vegetarian.
The main issue to take is that you don't have to go deep in the water to make a difference. After all, Bittman, a food writer for The New York Times, eats meat and fish and uses butter — just not all the time.
Though I find myself a conscious omnivore, I do find the idea of being more vegetarian friendly to be tempting. Experimenting with coconut oil and almond milk might get me to be more vegan friendly.
In my world, the only thing that separates me from being "vegan before noon" on most days is the milk I usually drink for breakfast and the pecorino romano cheese I put on my spaghetti. The cheese is purely out of habit. Then again, I use very little cheese. The milk is also somewhat out of habit. But the milk and cheese do have a purpose: protein in the morning.
Except for an occasional use of pancetta, bacon, or anchovies, the usual morning meal is vegetarian, just not vegan. Fake cheese could substitute for the pecorino romano, but I would rather go without. Almond milk or other fake milk could supply the missing protein.
Yes, I get some protein from the whole wheat spaghetti and the mushrooms, but feel like the morning should have more substantial protein.
The general consensus is that adult women should get 46 grams of protein per day, men 56. Getting that protein sooner rather than later can help you get through the day.
I see almond milk as a great sub for baking or cooking, but am not convinced for regular drinking … yet.
Some days, I do go "vegetarian before 6" especially if I'm eating bread and cheese for lunch. I don't feel like I'm missing the meat as much if I'm consuming protein, and right now, that protein is dairy-based. But I might need to rethink this.
Doing that day after day isn't going to happen for me. I need flexibility to achieve my balance of food, but I can get meals to be mostly vegetarian or mostly vegan on occasion. But I'm willing to consider reasonable alternatives throughout the day.
photo credit: Clarkson Potter/Publishers