The Vegan Food Pyramid

eating veganA pyramid of oranges.

Sure, we’ve all seen the USDA food pyramid, but did you know that are several Vegan Food Pyramids out there, too?

The one that I see the most often is this Vegan Food Pyramid. Inga Ambrosia goes through the details of this food pyramid in an 8 minute video:

The pyramid over at Vegan Peace looks a bit more like the USDA pyramid, with grains making up the largest section. Many of the other vegan food pyramids that I’ve run across are similar to this one, though if you do the math on the one in the video above, the servings for each food group don’t shake out all that differently. I thought the Vegan Peace one was interesting, because it has a whole section just for calcium-rich foods, like dark leafy greens.

Over at Vegan R.D., she has a Food Guide for Vegans, which is also quite similar. Her guide isn’t in pyramid form, but since Ginny is a registered dietitian that focuses on vegan health, I tend to trust her nutrition advice when it comes to things like this.

Basically, all of the advice I’ve seen for vegans ends up averaging out to something like this:

  • minimal fat
  • 3-5 servings of protein
  • Around 5 servings of fruits and vegetables (at least 3 should be vegetables)
  • Around 6+ servings of whole grains

There seem to be some concerns about vegans getting enough calcium, but a diet rich in leafy greens can go a long way here. Like many women, though, vegans who may be falling short on calcium should probably talk to a doctor about possibly starting to take a supplement.

Have you guys run across any interesting vegan food pyramids? I’d love to see some more examples in the comments!

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by dominiquegodbout

  1. Ryan

    Thanks for this, Becky!

    The calcium issue is a little more complicated that just considering dietary consumption. Maintaining adequate levels of calcium in the body is a two-step process: 1) Consuming sufficient calcium, and 2) Keeping the calcium in your body!

    It turns out that some foods (namely, animal protein) cause our digestive tracts to become more acidic. When this happens, our bodies respond by trying to neutralize the acidic environment. An easy way to do this is to leach calcium from our bones. Once it has done its neutralizing job, the calcium leaves our body through our urine. (I should note that foods we often think of as acidic, like citrus fruits, don’t actually have this acidifying effect inside our bodies. The citric acid in citrus fruits actually has an alkalinizing effect.)

    This helps explain the phenomenon long documented by researchers that the countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis are also the countries with the highest rates of cow’s milk consumption (the U.S., England, Finland, Sweeden, etc.). You may be ingesting a lot of calcium if you drink cow’s milk, but you may not be absorbing and retaining much of it.

    And besides, the reason cow’s milk contains so much calcium is because cows eat green leafy veggies (grass)! In factory farms where dairy cows don’t have access to grass, their feed is heavily supplemented with calcium, otherwise their milk wouldn’t contain it. We humans can easily cut out the middle cow and get our calcium directly from its plant-based source.

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