About two months ago, Mark Bittman wrote in his New York Times farewell column, "I'm leaving to take a central role in a year-old food company, to do what I've been writing about these many years: to make it easier for people to eat more plants." Today, he announced what that role is and what the food company is, and I had the pleasure of getting those details from Bittman himself.

The author of "How to Cook Everything" and "Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating" has joined Purple Carrot, the first whole food, plant-based meal kit delivery service, as partner and chief innovation officer.

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"For 10 years, I've been saying we should be integrating plant-based meals into our diets for the environment and to extend life and health," said Bittman.

By now, he told me, almost everyone has gotten that message. People know they should be adding more plant-based foods into their diets, and Purple Carrot's mission is to provide an easy way to do that. Once a week, a box arrives that contains the ingredients for plant-based meals.

Meal kit delivery isn't anything new, but Purple Carrot is the first to do it with all plant-based ingredients. The subscription service is not just targeting vegans, though. Bittman says they're targeting non-vegans, those who know they should be integrating more plants into their diet and need some help getting it done.

"Other than me coming to your house, I don't know a better way to do this," Bittman said.

purple-carrot-ingredientsThe Purple Carrot provides home cooks with all they need to easily create a plant based meal. (Photo: Aya Bracket/The Purple Carrot)

Bittman met Purple Carrot founder and CEO Andy Levitt last May when an investor introduced them in Levitt's garage. He thought the plant based meal kit delivery service was a "super idea" and he was "really intrigued." He decided to work behind the scenes for a while, but about six weeks into it, he knew he wanted to be a part of Purple Carrot.

In his role as Chief Innovation Officer for Purple Carrot, Bittman will be creating the company's recipes each week and providing thought leadership on the subject of plant-based eating, but he also wants to have an impact on the meal kit delivery industry as a whole. He'll be working with the industry at large on the sustainability of its packaging and sourcing.

purple-carrot-pad-kee-maoPad Kee Mao, or drunken noodles, is one of the dishes subscribers to The Purple Carrot can throw together easily. (Photo:Aya Bracket /The Purple Carrot)

"I've been a fan of Mark's for years, admiring how he has been teaching millions of people how to cook better. Over the past couple of years, I've been really drawn to his focus on plant-based eating, and it aligns so perfectly with what we are doing," said Levitt in a press release. "Our goal is not just to be a provider of plant-based meal kits; our intention is to be a leading voice supporting a food movement that helps drive meaningful and lasting change. We want people to understand now more than ever just how closely the food we eat, our health and our environment are connected, and are in many ways interdependent. And Mark is in the perfect position to help us do just that."

In addition to the announcement about Bittman's role in the company, today the Purple Carrot also announces its expansion to the West Coast. Started in Boston a year ago, the meal kit delivery service will now service more than 70 percent of the country. The company will continue to offer the two-night family plan for four people that it has been offering and adds a new three-night meal plan for two people.

All meal kits will now contain what Bittman says are "really good meals and brilliant recipes."

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.