Trying Not to Let the Perfect Be the Enemy of the Good

When I started this blog, I claimed to be 90% vegan and 99% vegetarian. As I've gotten more into eating that way, I've found myself moving more towards being 100% vegan. In fact, I can easily say over the last three weeks, there hasn't been a day go by that I wasn't 100% vegan. That's good, and with the weight loss that I'm seeing and with the numbers that I'm achieving, I'm excited to stay vegan. But I still say that I'm 90% vegan and 99% vegetarian because I know there may be times when I make an exception. And if I consider myself to be fully vegan, then I'll lament those times and possibly give up by saying that I just can't do it. But if I make the claim of being 90% vegan and 99% vegetarian, then I'll know that if I do make an exception, it's not the end of the world. I'm still within my plan of eating.

As a retired manager from a major $1 billion a year business, we used to tell our staff, "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." That is, it's easy to go overboard on doing everything perfectly and by doing so, you really miss the chance to do it well. Just as that applied in our business, I think it also applies in how we approach other endeavors, such as our diets.

In that respect, I've chosen in eating my plant-strong diet to include a number of convenience foods. I find this necessary because I live alone, and I'm a very busy person. Most nights, I have neither the time nor the inclination to spend a lot of time cooking a meal just for myself. If I had to make every meal from scratch, then I probably wouldn't last long on this diet. It's just too easy to scramble up some eggs or to throw a steak on the grill than it is to peel and chop and soak and so on. I recognize that one solution around that is to make meals up for the week on Sundays, and a lot of vegans do that. And I do too. My Crab Pot Vegan Bean Soup is a good example of that. I made that up on Wednesday and am eating it every day for lunch, probably until next Wednesday based on what's left.

But my refrigerator isn't big enough for too many crab pots (or other large pots). So, I do rely some on vegan convenience foods like the following:

This again is not letting the perfect be the enemy of what's good. I know that some of these convenience foods are high in salt, sugar and fats. And fortunately, my numbers are such that those things are not as worrisome to me as they might be for other people. For example, my blood pressure, without medication is 122/78 and my total cholesterol is under 150. And health is something that I've been genetically blessed with. Both my dad, aged 91 and my mom, aged 88 are still alive and in good health. So, what works for me may not work for somebody else. Only you, and your doctor really know how much salt, sugar and fat might be acceptable for you.

But still I do read food labels, and I make it a point to especially try and limit fat in my diet. I also look to see that there's no added sugar in a food. If you're eating a plant-strong diet, then you should expect sugar in your food. The question is, what's been added to it and is what's been added, an acceptable level for you? I don't really worry about sodium since my blood pressure has never been a problem for me.

I also think that in considering convenience food fats, sugars and salts, it's important to look at the entire meal. For example, the vegan gravy that I posted about earlier as a comfort food for me, contains about half its calories as fats. By itself, that is very high. But who eats gravy by itself? If I bake a potato and then put the vegan gravy on that baked potato, the percentage of calories that I'm getting from fat drops from being 50% with just the gravy alone to about 5%, given that the potato is about 160 calories, the gravy is 20 calories and the fat content is 9 calories. So, yes, the gravy by itself is high in fat. But for the whole meal, the fat content is 5%. That's pretty good, I think.

So, please, especially if you're just starting out, don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. And in reading food labels, think about how you're combining the packaged food with your other foods over an entire meal. High levels in the individual packaged item may not translate into high levels when spread out over the rest of the meal.