Just as the regular old fashioned food pyramid has evolved over the decades so has the vegetarian food pyramid.
The first food pyramid does not actually come from the bedfellows of Monsanto and mafiaso sons i.e. the USDA. No, the first food pyramid allegedly came into being in Sweden in 1974. The USDA’s food pyramid that we’ve come to hate and despise, or should I say come to know the best was issued by them in 1992.
The USDA is primarily concerned with promoting agribusiness and their products. This is from their very own Mission Statement’s Strategic Plan Framework: expanding markets for agricultural products and support international economic development, further developing alternative markets for agricultural products and activities, providing financing needed to help expand job opportunities and improve housing, utilities and infrastructure in rural America, enhancing food safety by taking steps to reduce the prevalence of foodborne hazards from farm to table, improving nutrition and health by providing food assistance and nutrition education and promotion, and…
This is an organization that transparently is required to promote farm products. And with the biggest subsidies going to promote animal agriculture is it any wonder that they cannot get away from promoting animal products.
Okay, this is not a history on the USDA. However, it is important to understand where they’re coming from so that we can be secure in the knowledge that practically any vegan food pyramid or vegetarian food guide pyramid will be not only healthier but less tainted by conflicts of interest. Caring for animals is not a conflict of interest when science is clearly pointing to the benefits of a vegan diet and vegetarian diet for health and longevity.
Now as I mentioned before, there are several vegetarian food pyramid guides out there. Let me give a brief overview of some of them before I recommend which one is the best.
The Mayo Clinic’s Vegetarian Food Pyramid
Not very inspiring, this plain green vegan food guide pyramid is like a ladder with a sharp point on the end. I take issue with the fact that they recommend nuts as part of the second most consumed group. Why do folks consider nuts a protein group? They are really more of a fat group.
Put the nuts up at the top with the fats and you’ve got a pretty good vegetarian diet pyramid. An insipid carelessly thought out vegetarian food guide that still considers a vegan diet lacking in calcium ‘cos of the milk is a good source of calcium bullshit. You’d be better served elsewhere.
Loma Linda University School of Public Health’s Vegetarian Food Pyramid
I’m not gonna lie to you, but now we’re getting somewhere. Good graphics, nice use of colours but more importantly a vegetarian and vegan food pyramid poster that we can print off and actually follow.
Good, sound science behind this, though they could eliminate the dairy/eggs portion, even though they do suggest ZERO to 1/2. And another benefit of this is they give you an actual guide of how many servings of grains etc, should be consumed depending on whether you are eating a 1,500 2,000 or 2,500 calorie diet.
Oldways Vegetarian Diet Pyramid
Most of the vegetarian dietary guideline pyramids I’ve been showcasing can be downloaded from the online links for free.
The Oldways vegetarian guidelines pyramid is quite unusual, putting recommendations into smaller triangles within the bigger triangle. Not a bad pyramid for vegetarians and vegans to follow, it still allows for the daily consumption of dairy and egg whites.
Oldways is a non profit promoting eating well through science, tradition and delicious foods whatever that means.
Choose Veg’s Vegan Food Pyramid
Here we’re getting to food pyramids that I could actually recommend folks follow for good health and that are based on sound science and easy to understand.
This vegan food pyramid from Brenda Davis RD and Vesanto Melina RD is solid. Offering advice on B12 which is an important aspect of healthy vegan nutrition you could set your diet to this vegan pyramid food guide and be assured of good health.
There are also food plates that have become more common recently and based on the USDA’s MyPlate which came out in the middle of 2011 as a nutritional guide.
And this leads me to my recommended and best vegan vegetarian food pyramid which is actually a vegan food plate guide. Call it the vegan MyPlate or vegetarian MyPlate:
Number 1 Recommended Vegetarian Food Pyramid Guide
PCRM’s Power Plate
This is the food guide I recommend for both vegetarians and vegans. It is easy, straightforward and gives you a visual interpretation of what your plate at each meal might want to look like.
PCRM advises on using a B12 supplement which is important and on top of that they have additional useful information on making the vegetarian power plate work for you. They have additional advice for example on which foods are great protein sources, which provide calcium, omega 3s etc.
This is a simple and easy vegan food guide to follow. It doesn’t require keeping tally of the servings of each food you’ve eaten each day and you don’t even need to print it off. Looking at it for just a few minutes will give you all the info you need.
Keep it simple vegans. No need to overcomplicate things unnecessarily. No wonder folks are confused with all the confusing mental gymnastics required to understand food pyramids and other health issues. Eat vegan. Centre your diet around plant foods like the power plate suggests, get your B12 and sunshine, exercise, clean water and you my vegan friends are golden.