A few years ago I became aware, that animal based foods were a risk factor for a number of diseases. Being concerned about my health, I decided to switch to a plant based diet. As I began to learn cooking without meat and dairy, I was pleasantly surprised to find a great variety dishes, a wide range of possibilities, when cooking plant based.
There is definitely a learning curve and for someone, who for 5 decades loved eating smoked sausage, cheese and eggs. The many exotic ingredients of Asian cuisines weren’t easy to decipher, or find.
Related: Plant Based Whole Food Diet
When asked what diet I followed, I responded: “I haven’t learned how to cook enough vegan dishes, so I eat about 98% plant based.” But there was also another reason why I had trouble getting to 100%. I have a sweet tooth and love cheese Danishes.
Of course, there is vegan “cheese” and with creativity it is possible to make the plant based versions of just about any sweet treat. I ended up inventing my own healthy granola bars, (below), made with no dairy and no processed sugar.
But some vegan substitutes just don’t taste the same. It is also hard to ignore all the goodies, I used to eat, while in the grocery store.
What I realized 3 years later is that 98% is actually a good compromise. For me, it is the “sweet spot”, it allows me to achieve optimal health and at the same time eat certain foods I love and avoid cravings.
Some of the “2%” – processed meat, some cheese, or commercial pastry – may not be great for health. However, 2% is too low to have a negative impact and the remaining 98% of my diet is very healthy.
Related: 6 Aspects of Healthy Eating
By the numbers, 2% may not sound much, but in the practice, it is a significant difference. It allows a greater amount of freedom in making dietary choices and variety, that a fully plant based diet does not offer.
It is important to point out, that plant based isn’t always healthy either. There are vegan dishes, that contain sugar, fat, salt, or other undesirable ingredients in excessive amounts.
Related: Vegan Myths and Misconceptions
By the same token, a meal that contains a modest amount of meat and plenty of vegetables and organic, unprocessed ingredients, maybe healthier overall.
Another example, vegan cookies tend to have a higher sugar content, than regular cookies. Considering the low dairy content of regular cookies and the ill effects of processed sugar on our health, the vegan version may not be better.
Related: The Sugar Curse
60% of the population in the US is overweight, or obese and half of Americans have one, or more metabolic related diseases. The main culprit are the high percentage of processed and animal based foods, found in the Standard American Diet.
There are many, who want to improve their health by changing their eating habits, but restrictive diets lead to cravings and they abandon the effort, as a result of the frustration.
The percentage of those, who fail dieting is high, 98%. Perhaps finding a compromise, as I have, could be the solution for others as well, to achieve lasting health and wellness. The “98% Diet for the 98% that Fail Dieting.”