Is NYT Food Writer Mark Bittman More Jewish Than He Thinks?

Bittman

Many of America’s leading voices on food and food policy are Jewish, but not many deal explicitly or exclusively in Jewish or kosher food. But one famous food writer’s main ideas show a lot of influence from his Jewish roots, intentionally or not.

Writing for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Uriel Heilman argues that New York Times writer Mark Bittman, especially with his “vegan before 6” diet, is on the cusp of going kosher.

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In his book “VB6” (and the accompanying cookbook), first published last April, Bittman suggests avoiding meat and dairy before dinnertime. Bittman says the diet, heavy in whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, and nuts, will help followers “lose weight and restore health.”

As kosher observant diners may know, vegan food can generally be considered kosher. Without meat, food avoids many potential kashrut issues. But as the Chabad website points out, vegan restaurants still might need certification to verify that baked goods, wine and grape juice, utensils, and prep surfaces are kosher, and that trace amounts of animal products are not used–so it depends on individual preference sometimes.

But addressing the Union for Reform Judaism biennial last month, Bittman even stated that “VB6 is like being kosher ‘til six, basically.”

Bittman was raised in a Reform Jewish family in Manhattan and attended religious school and synagogue, but distanced himself from religion as an adult (his love of eating pig is famous to readers). He rose to fame for his cookbook “How to Cook Everything,” and writing his “Minimalist” cooking column for the New York Times. Bittman is now a food policy writer for the Times.

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