Vegetarian + Vegan orange pyramid

Published on January 7th, 2011 | by Becky Striepe

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Food Pyramid Lawsuit: Doctors Sue USDA and Department of Health

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A pyramid of oranges.

The nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) is suing the USDA and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for ignoring their healthier, plant-based alternative to the food pyramid.

According to a PCRM release:

“We are asking the government to protect the average American, not special agribusiness interests,” says PCRM nutrition education director Susan Levin, M.S., R.D. “MyPyramid is confusing, and it recommends meat and dairy products despite overwhelming evidence that these foods are unnecessary and unhealthy. Research shows the Power Plate is a better choice, and it’s simple enough that a child could follow it.”

Amen to that. Concerns that special interests control the USDA food pyramid are nothing new, but this is the first time that an advocacy group has taken legal action on the matter.

The Food Pyramid

The USDA food pyramid can be confusing. As PCRM points out, even something as simple as serving size can make a huge difference. What does 6-11 servings of grain mean? That depends on what a serving is, and what you might consider a serving of potatoes or bread could be more like 2 or even 3 servings.

The PCRM guide only mentions servings once, and that is recommending at least one daily serving of fruit that’s high in vitamin C.

PCRM points to rising rates of obesity and obesity-related diseases like diabetes as evidence that the current food pyramid is not doing its job, and they petitioned the USDA and HHS to consider their plant-based food guide. The agencies ignored their petition, and now PCRM is suing.

Rather than tell you how much to eat, Power Plate focuses on healthy foods, explaining why they’re healthy, and provide recipes to help you incorporate them into your diet. It strikes me as much more action-oriented than the USDA food pyramid.

So, what do you guys think? Are you happy with the current food pyramid? Do you think special interests play too large a role in the government’s food recommendations? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by dominiquegodbout

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About the Author

My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone!. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .



  • http://Web Mitchell

    Yes. “A change would do you good” – Sheryl Crow

  • http://twitter.com/briankuepper Brian K.

    Although I am not in support of a strictly vegetarian diet, I do think the food pyramid is ridiculous. It is based on the financial gains of the dairy and agricultural industry and not on the Americans health. Any change at this point would be a step in the right direction. Don’t blame everything on meat, however, there is a lot of evidence out there that shows problems with grains and legumes as well.

    Always keep an open mind on health and be willing to hear and accept other ideas if they make sense even if different from your own.

  • Pingback: USDA Gave Dominoes $12 Million Dollars for Cheesier Pizza – Eat Drink Better

  • http://Web Christine

    This is such great news! I wonder what, “a lot of evidence out there that shows problems with grains and legumes,” means, though (previous comment). What evidence? What problems? Flatulence??? Unless he meant government/corporation issues. Seriously, though, I have read dozens of books, consulted numerous nutritionists/doctors, and speak regularly on the topic of veganism and health (nevermind having been vegan for years). There is NOTHING unhealthy about a vegan diet and I’m excited to see this knowledge becoming more mainstream!

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