I often feel like the leading conscientious omnivores — Pollan, Bittman, Schlosser — probably keep a hundred times more animals from slaughter than do the most influential vegan advocates. The reason, I think, is that mainstream America still views veganism as too extreme and freakish to even consider.
But the message of Pollan: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants,” is something that even die-hard meat eaters can reflect on and ultimately embrace. And now Bittman is pushing Pollan’s message to the next level, by suggesting that people be vegan until 6:00 PM.
In contrast to total veganism, ideas like the above are something that middle America is ready to buy into. Right now, Bittman’s newest book, Food Matters, in which he lays out his Vegan Until Six plan, is the number 30 bestselling book on Amazon.com.
I’ve personally witnessed the power of the Vegan Until Six idea, and how it can win over people who aren’t receptive to the idea of becoming completely vegan. A week or two back, a friend I went to high school with was telling me how she wanted to eat better and start working out in 2009. I told her about the Vegan Until Six concept, and sent her the Reader’s Digest story. The next day she contacted me and said she had decided to take the plunge.
To me, the work of Bittman and Pollan accomplishes a couple huge things. First, it takes and audience who by and large wouldn’t consider vegetarianism, and sells them on the idea of cutting out perhaps two-thirds of their meat consumption. And second, by doing this, it brings these people to a style of eating where going entirely vegan no longer seems fringe or scary.
More than anything I want to see the world go vegan tomorrow. And while Bittman and Pollan aren’t about promoting veganism, the work they’re doing is helping to push the least receptive parts of society towards plant-based eating. These authors are encouraging people to eat fewer animals today, and perhaps be in a place tomorrow where they are ready to contemplate going vegan.