After Six Months, Mark Bittman Is Leaving Purple Carrot

The Needham-based vegan meal kit company got the longtime New York Times columnist to leave journalism, but now he's looking for a new challenge.

Mark Bittman

Mark Bittman. / Photo courtesy of Eric Tanner

If you signed up for Purple Carrot for a taste of Mark Bittman’s plant-based recipes, maybe just pick up a copy of his book, How To Cook Everything Vegetarian, instead. The prominent food policy advocate and longtime New York Times columnist is leaving the vegan meal kit delivery service, just six months after he signed on with the Needham-based startup.

“I did everything I could do to help [its recent West Coast expansion], and now I’m ready for something new,” Bittman told Mother Jones.

The former journalist (and one-time Somerville resident) will keep an ownership stake in Purple Carrot, and he remains a friend of the company, founder and CEO Andy Levitt says.

“Having helped the company launch successfully, and reflecting Mark’s desire to pursue a broad range of activities, Mark and the company have agreed to end his employment relationship with the company,” he says. “Mark remains a strong proponent of plant-based meals and the role that Purple Carrot can play for those who want to eat more plants.”

Bittman left the New York Times in September, and announced his new role a chief innovation officer of Purple Carrot two months later. He was once the lead food writer at the Times, where he penned the cooking column “The Minimalist” for 13 years, and was a leading authority on food policy topics as a columnist there. He is the author of more than a dozen books, including How To Cook Everything and The VB6 Cookbook. 

With Purple Carrot, he intended to put into practice everything he had written about, he told Boston in November. “We’re just saying you need to eat more plant-based food, and we can help you figure out how to [do that] by putting it on your table twice a week,” he said.

He was creating plant-based recipes on a weekly basis for Purple Carrot customers, and he led a few online discussions as the face of the company. Waste is one big question affecting the growing meal kit delivery sector, and Bittman had wanted to help Purple Carrot innovate in the packaging arena. He had also planned to help the company be forward-thinking in terms of labor.

Yesterday, Purple Carrot announced it secured a new, $5 million investment from WindSail Capital. The Boston-based firm invests in energy innovation and sustainability, and the money will help Purple Carrot increase consumer awareness, and “continue to lead the discussion regarding the value of a plant-based diet for health and environmental reasons,” according to a press release.

Purple Carrot is debuting a new Guest Chef series in the coming months, with customized, plant-based recipes from “notable chefs and influencers” among its weekly offerings.