In 2008, New York Times food columnist and author Mark Bittman added another book to his collection. Bittman released Food Matters, a cleanly written book exposing the toll that the typical American diet— one heavy laden with meat, dairy, and processed foods—takes on the planet.
Along with ongoing health problems, it was when the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization released the striking statistic showing global livestock production to be responsible for about one-fifth of all greenhouse gases—more than transportation— that Bittman began realizing a change was needed in his diet, one that could ultimately help change the world.
His plan was simple, one that he later defines as “sane, conscious eating”: Eat more plants, fewer refined carbs, less meat and dairy, and little to no junk food. Bittman began taking a vegan-until-six approach, constructing his first two meals solely around plant-based sources, and then allowing himself to eat whatever he’d like when it came to dinner time. He immediately shed more than a few pounds, his high cholesterol and blood sugar dropped back down into the normal range, and his sleep apnea vanished. As his results kept positively creeping upwards, his consumption of meat, dairy, and even fish continued to drop, now totaling about one-third of the amount he used to consume a few years ago.
In Food Matters, Bittman outlines a guide for accessible for even those who know practically nothing about nutrition, vegetarianism, or even cooking, backing up his plan with gripping statistics that are bound to make you want to at least attempt a switch towards a healthier lifestyle. He emphasizes that his diet plan requires no sacrifices, only adjustments and benefits, with no foods becoming off limit, excluding the suggestion to entirely rule out junk food.
Even steak and ice cream fit into the Food Matters style of eating, although with far less frequency than what the typical American is accustomed to. The last half of the book offers basic cooking techniques and recipes, including classics like hummus, tomato sauce, and fried rice, to get you started on the Food Matters “diet.”
Bittman simply expresses in his book that we need to make food more important in order to save ourselves and the planet. Released on September 21st, Bittman follows up on Food Matters with the Food Matters Cookbook, a more thorough and developed recipe guide to eating healthier. I can’t wait to check it out and test out some of Bitman’s recipes in the kitchen!