Mark Bittman, New York Times columnist, shares his healthy-eating tips for vegetarian diets

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In a low-carb versus low-fat, organic versus local, GMO versus non-GMO food environment, healthy eating techniques that benefit your body (and keep the planet healthy, too) can seem impossible to figure out. Leave it to popular New York Times columnist Mark Bittman to boil it down to two simple rules. In the New York Times last week, the op-ed columnist suggested that the biggest way you can make a difference on food systems-and the easiest way to reduce or eliminate the antibiotics and GMOs you consume, lower your carbon footprint, eat a healthier diet, and avoid or cut back on sugar-is to stop eating processed food, and eat more plants and vegetables than you've been eating. Yeah, it's that simple: If you normally eat one serving a day, go up to two. Eat a fruit and veg with every meal? Tack on an extra fruit in your oatmeal and-bam!-you're succeeding.

Last night, we got a chance to chat with Bittman at the James Beard Foundation Leadership Award dinner, where he was an honoree, about why he thinks mostly plant-based is the healthiest way to eat. In his book VB6, he proposes part-time veganism (skipping meat, dairy, eggs, and processed foods until 6 p.m.) for weight loss and good health. His main message: You can get the benefits of a plant-based diet without committing to a strictly vegan diet. "We should all be eating more plants, and you don't have to give anything up to do that," he says. And he walks the walk. "I probably eat 60 percent less meat than I used to," he told us. "I almost never cook meat at home, and at dinner I'm usually either vegetarian or I eat fish."