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Watch > Episode > Mark Bittman - Vegan Before 6PM

Mark Bittman - Vegan Before 6PM


Mark Bittman is an award-winning food journalist, author, and former columnist at the New York Times who has written 20 acclaimed books, created more than 17,000 recipes, and just published the 10th edition of “How To Cook Everything Vegetarian”. Mark is known for fusing his political views with his expertise on food, and has starred in four television series including Showtime’s Emmy award winning climate change documentary, “Years of Living Dangerously”. He is currently a writer for New York Magazine’s Grub Street.

Mark Bittman began his career as a food writer, establishing himself as a prominent voice in the world of culinary journalism. Bittman’s writing style, blending culinary expertise with an accessible and conversational tone, has resonated with a broad audience and contributed to his widespread influence.

Bittman’s breakthrough came with the publication of his seminal work, “How to Cook Everything,” in 1998. This comprehensive cookbook quickly became a staple in kitchens around the world for its practicality and versatility. The book’s success led to an expanded series, including specialised editions such as “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” and “How to Cook Everything Fast,” catering to diverse culinary preferences and time constraints.

The “How to Cook Everything” series is celebrated for its user-friendly approach, providing not just recipes but also fundamental cooking techniques and essential kitchen tips. Bittman’s emphasis on empowering home cooks to explore and experiment has inspired a new generation to embrace cooking as a creative and enjoyable endeavour.

In addition to his contributions as an author, Mark Bittman has been a vocal advocate for sustainable and mindful eating. His book “Food Matters” (2008) delves into the environmental impact of food choices and promotes a diet centred on plant-based and whole foods. Bittman’s exploration of the connections between diet, health, and the environment reflects his commitment to fostering a more conscious and sustainable approach to food consumption.

Mark Bittman’s impact on home cooking extends beyond his books to his influential column, “The Minimalist,” which ran in The New York Times from 1997 to 2011. In this column, Bittman continued to demystify cooking by providing simple yet flavorful recipes that could be easily replicated at home. “The Minimalist” reinforced Bittman’s philosophy that great food doesn’t have to be complicated, and with the right techniques, anyone can become a proficient home cook.

As technology advanced, Mark Bittman embraced multimedia platforms to extend his culinary influence. Collaborating with filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker, Bittman created the documentary “What’s Cooking with Mark Bittman” (2005), exploring the art of cooking and the cultural significance of food. His digital presence expanded through video series, online columns, and collaborations with various media outlets, making his culinary expertise accessible to a wider audience.

Mark Bittman’s impact on home cooking and food journalism is profound and enduring. His ability to simplify cooking, advocate for sustainable practices, and promote mindful eating has resonated with individuals across the globe. Whether through his bestselling cookbooks, influential columns, or multimedia ventures, Bittman has left an indelible mark on the culinary world, inspiring countless home cooks to embrace the joy and creativity of preparing delicious, nourishing meals.


00:00 | Trailer
02:13 Brian’s thoughts on the episode
04:21 Brian’s introduction
05:02 Food in London in 1968 far from memorable
08:43 Growing up in a housing project in Stuyvesant Town, Manhattan
11:24 Why Mark started to cook whilst at college
13:19 A lone male shopping in the supermarkets
14:39 Early political interests, growing aware food was becoming more about manufacturing and less about farming
18:14 Mark’s TED talk raised early awareness of issues around farm production of red meat
23:18 The balance between personal freedom and collective responsibility is something we just don’t get
27:36 What Mark is hoping to see in current travels to Brazil, Haiti, Great Britain and India studying their food policies
34:33 Where the concept arose for his book Vegan Before Six
38:16 Big food lobbying budget for hyper processed food in the USA is about as big as lobbying budget for Defence
40:48 Mark finds restaurants chronically disappointing
45:27 What it was like working for the New York Times with the pressure to meet copy deadlines
54:50 His views on the change in newspaper production to digital
57:31 Donald Trump’s attack on the New York Times1:00:31 What he thinks the British are doing right in relation to food production
1:03:04 Praise for the raising awareness work of Jamie Oliver1:03:51 A celebratory chef owned chain of restaurants is not what the eater is looking for
1:05:57 Mark much prefers to hone his views in written format than be on camera
1:08:21 Mark’s advise to those who want to pursue a career in writing whether as a blogger or in print
1:10:32 The attraction of the intensity of New York
1:12:47 Who Mark thinks of as successful
1:14:32 Success secrets
1:15:10 Best and worst days of his life
1:17:00 Where and how Mark heard about 9/11
1:20:36 What is keeping him awake at night
1:22:52 Phone call to the 20-year old Mark Bittman
1:26:01 Best advice ever received
1:27:18 Advice to the 20-year old who wants to improve on the direction the world is going
1:29:00 Brian’s summing up.


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