I was wrong, and I apologize.
Last week, in my post about the Dietary Guidelines Committee releasing their report for the updates to the 2015 recommendations, I got something really wrong, and it appears I have egg on my face.
I made a big stink about the changes to the cholesterol recommendation and advocated that eggs are still unhealthy despite the proposed change.
That part I stand by. That’s not why I have egg on my face.
I concluded my post by stating: “It will be a long time before we see the official recommendation say anything negative about meat.”
Boy was I wrong. Unless by “a long time” I meant “a few days,” because that’s how long it took between my post and the guidelines being released, guidelines that stated:
Current evidence shows that the average U.S. diet has a larger environmental impact in terms of increased greenhouse gas emissions, land use, water use, and energy use. This is because the current U.S. population intake of animal-based foods is higher and plant-based foods are lower.
Wow. Industry is already incredibly upset by this statement, and the guidelines now go into public comment before they become official. I urge you to keep an eye on this battle, because it is so important. Animal-based diets are unsustainable for the planet.
The guidelines also talk about patterns of eating for health, and highlight that a plant-based pattern of eating is healthiest. I also applaud this. Animal-based diets are unsustainable for personal health as well.
This is a great segue to the whole “egg” thing.
The proposed guidelines drop the recommendation to limit your dietary cholesterol intake. I talk about that in last week’s post.
People are passionate about their eggs. The push back from the pro-egg people was pretty interesting to watch, and has inspired me to clarify my position.
First, people try to claim eggs are low in saturated fat, but each egg has 1.5 to 2 grams. The tolerable upper limit for saturated fat was not set because all levels above zero raise your cholesterol.
Most people I know don’t just eat one egg, it’s usually two. So now we are at 3 to 4 grams.
Most people I know cook their eggs in butter. There are 7 grams of saturated fat in just one tablespoon of butter. So now we are at 10 to 11 grams (already exceeding the limit set by the USDA).
Lots of people I know add a little cheese to their eggs. There are 6 grams of saturated fat in an ounce of cheddar cheese. So now we are at 16 to 17 grams in your “healthy” breakfast!
Finally, plenty of people I know add some bacon to that breakfast. There are 4 grams of saturated fat in an ounce of bacon. This brings our total to 20-21 grams of saturated fat!
This is decidedly not a healthy meal! That is a huge load of artery clogging saturated fat you just pushed through your veins.
We have to talk about food how people talk about food.
Patterns of eating.
The ruling did not make eggs into a health food. At best it suggested that they aren’t as bad as previously thought. But patterns of eating matter.
If you eat 90% whole foods plant-based, and the rest of your calories come from eggs, its very different than if you eat 2% whole foods plant-based, and because of this new ruling you now look at your breakfast and think “yeah, I eat pretty healthy, I mean I got eggs on the plate!”
This is the reason the plant-based community got so up in arms about the new cholesterol ruling. Most people are SO far off from a healthy pattern of eating, that anything that suggests that their current bad habits are somehow healthy is a challenge to real progress toward a better diet.
If you already eat 90% of your calories from whole plants, then you can probably eat the other 10% from pretty much anything (eggs, meat, soda, or nails) — 90% is protective of most chronic conditions. Of course if you already suffer from a chronic disease, the recommendation is to go 100% whole foods plant-based.
And if, like most Americans, you eat closer to 2% plant-based, then know that eggs did not just become a health food.