We simply MUST all learn to cook and eat more plant-based meals. In fact, we all need to know how to make a meal that is 100% whole food plant-based if we want optimal health. Let me tell you why.
There is a general guiding principle that almost everyone can agree on. That is the ‘95% Rule’ and in short what it means is striving to fuel your body with the most health promoting foods you can at least 95% of the time.
Regardless of if you are a meat eater, flexitarian, vegetarian or subscribe to keto, paleo or vegan diet what most of the leading and best respected experts can agree upon is that we must all be eating a ‘plant-predominant’ diet for optimal health. This is usually described as getting between 90-95% of your calories from whole plant-based foods. I was first introduced to the 95% rule by Dan Buettner and his work mapping and studying the longest living populations on earth, including what they ate and their other lifestyle characteristics. His work suggests that from the 5 ‘Blue Zones’ he encountered what was consistent amongst all of them was a ‘plant-predominant’ diet consisting of 95-100% of daily calories from whole plant-based foods. Most of the zones ate little to no animal products, grew their own food, foraged from their environment and lived an active, connected and purposeful existence. This is why I stick to the 95% rule.
So what about the other 5% then?
I would personally argue that we should be filling these calories up with more of the same health promoting foods. However it does leave room for some flexibility, which perhaps is vital in the culture we live in with so many products out there (products not food!) that simply shouldn’t be available. This is definitely one area where the blue zones have an advantage over us, simply by not having access to the type of and abundance of calories that we do.
What this means when we break it down is that we should be aiming for only 1 in 20 of our meals to be made up of these ‘sometimes foods’ (for lack of a better description), foods including animal produces, sweets, foods containing refined grains and sugars, processed foods. How can our meals fit this guideline of mostly whole foods if we are including these processed and animal foods in every dish?
Everything in moderation, right? Well not exactly. One of the first pieces of advice I give to clients is not to start removing foods from their diets but to start adding foods in! I’m talking adding more REAL food into their day, it’s a method call ‘crowding out’ and basically boils down to introducing more health promoting foods (PLANTS) and by default you will have less and less room in your day for the unhealthy foods. This principle also works the other way however and the thing with unhealthy foods is that they can be hard to give up. Firstly because they are addictive, things like the saturated fats in animal products, or the refined sugars and flours in processed and fast foods are addictive and moderation doesn’t work for addictive products (drugs), and you will soon find that by keeping these foods around in your diet you are fighting a losing battle.
Secondly because as consumers we are being manipulated and barraged every single day by the food industry to buy and consume their products, not because they are bad people or want us to be sick and unhealthy but because they want to make more money. The products that are out there simply aren’t food and shouldn’t be on offer to us. Biologically we seek the most convenient and abundant calories as a survival mechanism. Unfortunately the food industry is cashing in on this making our environment particularly difficult to thrive in. This is another reason why including these unhealthy (non-foods) in our diets at all can often be setting ourselves up for failure, expecting ourselves to have self-control in a society that isn’t conducive to that model.
Even if you don’t subscribe to a vegan or plant-based diet, even the Australian dietary guidelines recommend limiting your meat to just lean red meat and putting as limit on it of 450g. That’s only 1-2 pieces of a lean meat in a whole week.
We are the average sum of what we eat and of our daily habits. We think that one bit of bad food won’t hurt us and that’s right, it won’t. But the accumulation will.
So the solution is to eat a diet containing 95-100% of our calories from whole plant-based sources of foods. Believe me this doesn’t mean you will miss out! Just check out some of my amazing delicious and nutritious recipes. We all MUST start learning to cook, eat and enjoy plant-based meals. For our personal health, for the health of the environment, for a future for our children and for a more compassionate world. This is what I do best, I make cooking and creating plant-based meals simple, fun and delicious!
I am running a free live masterclass busting the myths of plant-based cooking – you can find all the information you need here.
The masterclass will give you everything you need to get pumped and excited about a happier and healthier life.
Have a great day everyone!