Lean & Green: Mark Bittman

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Mark Bittman, 60, food columnist for The New York Times and author of Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating, offers up a vegan-before-6 p.m. (VB6) lifestyle to help Americans achieve a sustainable diet.

Q You advocate moving away from eating animal products since this could help curb the effects of global climate change, as well as help people lose weight and reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases. What has VB6 done for you?

A I’ve lost about 35 pounds, lowered my blood sugar and my cholesterol, and made my sleep apnea disappear.

Q Can you explain why meat and other animal products are unsustainable?

A The world’s current consumption levels will have us raising 120 billion animals a year by 2050. This number would require using more land for agriculture than exists. And even if we could pilfer the land or [devise] technology to achieve this, it’s unlikely the atmosphere, land, and water could handle it.

Q What else is key to this new way of eating?

A Cooking your own food and staying away from crap. A lot of [packaged] foods sold in grocery stores are stripped of their nutrients and fortified to try to make up for it. Preparing and eating your own food is the only way to ensure the quality of what’s going into your body.