Bittman: “Embrace Your Inner Vegan”

October 19, 2010

Promoting his new Food Matters Cookbook, Mark Bittman just delivered an important one hour talk in New York City. It’s probably the perfect talk for somebody who is following a standard American diet, and who considers total veganism too extreme to contemplate.

Bittman’s preaching “lessmeatarianism.” If that phrase sounds counterproductive or ridiculous, be sure to watch the segment from 50 to 54 minutes in. It’s the ultimate reality check for animal advocates who think that anything short of a vegan message is a cop out.

Bittman’s genius lies in his ability to think hard and clearly about the strategies for destroying the entire processed food industry, and to frame his appeals in ways that junk food eating Americans will find desirable.

He’s calling for a penny an ounce soda tax, which he claims will cut consumption by 15 percent, while generating billions in tax revenues. But that’s only the beginning. I transcribed five of his most important points from the talk:

  • For every one of us saying eat plants not junk there’s hundreds of millions of dollars screaming have it your way. This system needs flipping. We need to act.
  • We also need to tax big food and its products, and as we once demonized tobacco we have to now demonize bad food.
  • We need to reduce and then we need to eliminate the marketing of junk food to kids.
  • We need to provide incentives for people to eat better and disincentives for them to eat worse.
  • There are kind of two food groups in this world: unprocessed plants and everything else.

Bittman ends his talk by explaining where he feels veganism fits into the larger scheme of things. The contrast between him and Pollan couldn’t more stark. Quoting Bittman:

  • We can become nearly vegan.
  • Fifty or at most one hundred years from now, we’re all going to be eating a plant-based diet.
  • As there is maybe some kind of food movement in this country there has to be an individual movement in food. We need to be moving in the same direction and the direction is more plants and less of everything else.
  • You have to embrace your inner vegan.
  • I think that mostly vegan is the way to go. I think that if you want to be vegan that’s even better probably but I think for the next 50 100 years, the goal should be mostly vegan and the goal should really be to start to get the huge majority of your calories from plants.

This is one of the best things I’ve seen all year to share with omnivores. If it’s been a while since you’ve posted something diet-related to Facebook, make it this video. (Thanks, Charles.) Link.

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