Six years ago, Mark Bittman was faced by his doctor with two unsavory choices in order to address a smattering of health issues related to being overweight: surgery or drugs. Another physician recommended going vegan, but The New York Times columnist and host of Cooking Channel’s “The Minimalist” decided to compromise, building a flexible vegan diet that fit his lifestyle. In the first six weeks, he lost 15 pounds. In the next six weeks, he reduced his cholesterol and blood sugar level, cured his sleep apnea, and shed another 15 pounds. “The emphasis is on changing the proportions of what’s in your diet. Then everything else kind of follows from that,” Bittman says. “Obviously, there are political and environmental and larger implications of all of this, but I wanted to do something that didn’t confuse the issues, that said, ‘If you want to have a sort of personal food policy that’s going to improve your health, reduce your carbon footprint, probably make you feel better, this is the way to think about it.’ The science is pretty clear and this is a strategy. There are a lot of other strategies but this is a strategy that seems to be working.” On April 30, he released his latest book, “VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health . . . For Good,” detailing his experience and showing how to follow a similar path.