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The New and Improved Vegetarian and Vegan Food Pyramid

The New and Improved Vegetarian and Vegan Food Pyramid

We know that vegetarian and vegan aren’t synonymous with healthy. Junk food vegans and vegetarians do exist. After all, you can technically get a vegetarian burger at Burger King.

Many new vegans flock to PETA’s Accidentally Vegan Food List (which may or may not be entirely vegan — it depends on your personal definition of vegan) and rejoice! Per PETA’s list, Mambas, Oreos and Jujubes are vegan fair game.

Like many people, just because you are a vegetarian or vegan doesn’t mean that you are eating enough fruits and veggies. Delectable (and usually processed) plant-based temptations abound. Good thing vegetarians and vegans have updated food pyramid guidelines to help.

Speaking of Guidelines

Yeah, vegetarians and vegans have and need dietary guidelines, too. Oldways, a “non-profit organization that promotes healthy eating based upon regional diet pyramids,” proposed the first Vegetarian and Vegan Pyramid back in 1997. Now, they’ve updated the Pyramid and lumped vegetarians and vegans together because of the similarities.

The USDA’s MyPlate program isn’t full enough for followers of a vegetarian and vegan diet. As reported in U.S. News, Sara Baer-Sinnott, Oldways’ president, explained: “‘Vegetarian eating is at an all-time high, and it’s essential for people to realize that vegetarian diets are more than just cutting out meat. Balancing and planning are important.’”

Dietary Concerns for Vegetarians and Vegans

Fortunately, there’s no protein concern, which is one of the most common concerns from non-vegs that vegetarians and vegans encounter. Iron and iron-deficiency (also a high omnivore deficiency), calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B-12 and zinc round up the highest nutrients of concern for the two veggie groups.

New and Improved Guidelines

– Fruits: 3-4 daily servings (canned and frozen fruit count!)

– Vegetables: 4-5 daily servings

– Whole Grains: 5-6 daily servings

– Beans, Peas, Lentils, Soy: 3-6 daily servings

– Nuts, Peanuts, Seeds, Peanut- or Nut Butters: 1-3 daily servings

– Herbs and Spices: Help yourself

– Plant Oils: Up to 5 daily servings

– Eggs and/or Dairy: Eggs: 4-6 weekly; Dairy: 1-3 daily servings

Going Veg Still Has its Health Perks

Besides helping animals and the planet, vegetarianism still has health benefits. On February 24, 2014, U.S. News reported how a vegetarian diet may help lower pressure. The Japanese research study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, looked at 22,000 participants and “found vegetarians had blood pressure that was significantly lower than those who ate meat.” Over “a review of 39 studies,” researchers found that by following plant-based diet guidelines, it “could reduce a person’s risk of heart attack by 9 percent and the risk [of] stroke by 14 percent if sustained over time.”

And it doesn’t matter what type of vegetarian you are. For instance, there weren’t significant differences between vegans, vegetarians who included dairy, or pescatarians (vegetarians who still eat fish). One cardiologist from the study stepped up and said that the results are “preliminary,” and they are not ready to tell their patients to ditch meat.

Omnivores — Dont Clear Your Plate Just Yet

Just because the USDA’s MyPlate isn’t fulfilling enough for vegetarians and vegans, omnivores shouldn’t automatically be satisfied with it either. As One Green Planet highlights, MyPlate isn’t a plate that you should dash to clean up. For instance, MyPlate still lists a glass of 100 percent juice in the fruit category. Yet, as Dr. Andrew Weil points out, lumping fruit and fruit juice together “‘ignores the fact that the glycemic load – an indication of how quickly a food is converted to blood sugar — is far higher in fruit juices than in fruits.’” That’s one glaring MyPlate mishap, but there are likely more.

Bon appétit!

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock

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148 comments

+ add your own
7:50PM PDT on Mar 27, 2014

Thanks!

12:30PM PDT on Mar 27, 2014

good

9:52AM PST on Mar 6, 2014

Hi Vasu M! Care to have a whole new debate on the ethics of vegetarianism, or the pro-life position in general?

12:49AM PST on Mar 6, 2014

Thank you :)

1:42PM PST on Mar 5, 2014

Thank you!

10:47AM PST on Mar 5, 2014

Thanks for the update! Gonna link to this article on my yoga blog!

8:21AM PST on Mar 5, 2014

ty

4:52AM PST on Mar 5, 2014

I take vitamins to supplement my diet. I've been vegan for more than 7 years...and don't experience any problems. In fact, I used to eat tons of antacid for burning stomach, which stopped when I went from vegetarian to vegan. Just my experience.

4:24AM PST on Mar 5, 2014

Thank you for sharing.

1:51AM PST on Mar 5, 2014

Thank you.

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