Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
Vegetarian Diet Pyramid
Eggs, Sweets: Pie, Egg,
Custard, Ice Cream, Cake, Cookie
Egg Whites, Soy Milks, Dairy: Egg White,
Cheese (dairy & soy), Yogurt, Milk
Nuts, Seeds: Pine, Walnut, Pistachio,
Brazil, Pecan, Almond, Sesame, Cashew, Pumpkin, Hazelnut, Macadamia
Plant, Oils: Corn, Canola, Avocado,
Olive, Soybean, Safflower, Peanut, Other Nut & Seed Oil
Whole Grains: Oats, Wheat, Rice,
Buckwheat, Flax, Bulgur, Quinoa, Amaranth, Seitan, Millet, Barley, Whole Grain
Bread, Rye, Pita, Tortilla, Rice Cakes, Couscous, Noodles, Kasha, Pasta, Corn
Fruits, Vegetables: Fig, Grape, Raisin,
Pear, Avocado, Chile, Mushroom, Herb, Tomato, Kale, Orange, Broccoli, Collards,
Kiwi, Melon, Chard, Spice, Okra, Apple, Sweet Potato, Banana, Pepper, Asparagus,
Cucumber, Manioc, Potato, Lemon Grass, Plum, Cassava, Onion, Cherry, Guava,
Carrot, Cabbage, Squash, Leek, Egg Plant, Celery
Legumes (Soy, Beans, Peanuts and other
Legumes): Soy, Peanut, Red Bean, Lentil, Pea, Kidney Bean, Tempeh, Tofu,
Black-Eyed Pea, Dried Pea, Soy Flour, Textured Vegetable Protein, Adzuki Bean,
Navy Bean, Miso, Pinto Bean, Split Pea, Lima Bean, Chick Pea, Mung Bean, Black
Daily Exercise: walking, house cleaning,
running, soccer, tennis, golf, swimming, hiking, scuba diving, basketball,
baseball, football, skiing, surfing, yard work, rollerblading, dancing, weight
The Vegetarian Diet
The pyramid that represents a traditional
healthy vegetarian diet incorporates these principles:
- Consistency with patterns of eating of other
healthy populations of the world;
- Availability of data describing the character of
food consumption patterns of these populations; and
- The convergence of dietary patterns revealed by
these data with our current understanding of optimal nutrition based on
epidemiological studies and clinical trials worldwide.
Variations of this traditional
healthy vegetarian diet exist throughout the world, particularly in parts of
North America, Europe, South America, and most notably, Asia.
Given these carefully-defined parameters, the
phrase traditional healthy vegetarian diet is used here to represent the healthy
traditional ovo-lacto vegetarian diets of these regions and peoples.
The design of the The Traditional Healthy
Vegetarian Diet Pyramid is not based solely on either the weight or the
percentage of energy (calories) that foods account for in the diet. It
represents a blend of these that gives relative proportions and a general sense
of frequency of servings, as well as an indication of which foods to favor in a
healthy vegetarian diet.
The Vegetarian Diet Pyramid describes a diet for
most healthy adults. Adjustments need to be made for children, women in their
reproductive years, and other special population groups.
For persons who wish to improve their diet, this
model provides a highly palatable, healthful framework for change.
Equally positive results can be obtained either
by entirely adopting a vegetarian diet, or by alternating meals based on this
vegetarian model with meals inspired by healthful dietary traditions of other
cultures in other parts of the world, such as the Mediterranean, Asian, and
Latin American diet models. Evidence is clear that people enjoy the foods of
other cultures, and partake of these foods to enhance and augment their
knowledge and understanding of different cultures.
This food guide pyramid is the fourth in a
series that has been developed during the past few years to illustrate
graphically the healthy traditional food and dietary patterns of various
cultures and regions of the world. This initiative is a result of a multi-year
conference series, Public Health Implications of Traditional Diets, jointly
organized by Harvard School of Public Health and Oldways Preservation &
It is an element of the Cultural Models for
Healthy Eating project, a long-term Oldways educational program. These pyramids,
taken as a group, offer substantive refinements of the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's Food Guide Pyramid, refinements that reflect the current state of
clinical and epidemiological research worldwide and our understanding of what
constitutes optimal human nutrition status.
Dietary data from vegetarians across the world
that enjoyed the lowest recorded rates of chronic diseases and the highest adult
life expectancy show a pattern similar to the one illustrated in the list below.
The healthfulness of this pattern is corroborated by epidemiological and
- Multiple daily servings of foods from the three
Fruits and Vegetables, Whole Grains, Legumes, and Beans mini-pyramids.
- Daily servings from the three Nuts and Seeds,
Plant Oils, and Egg Whites, Soy Milks and Dairy mini-pyramids.
- Occasional or small-quantity servings from the
Eggs and Sweets mini-pyramid.
- Attention to consuming a variety of foods from
all seven mini-pyramids.
- Daily consumption of enough water throughout the
day to assure good health.
- Regular physical activity at a level which
promotes healthy weight, fitness, and well-being.
- Reliance upon whole foods and minimally processed
foods in preference to highly-processed foods.
- Moderate regular intake of alcoholic beverages
such as wine, beer or spirits (optional).
- Daily consumption of unrefined plant oils.
- Dietary supplements as necessary, based upon
factors such as age, sex, and lifestyle, with special attention to those
avoiding dairy and/or eggs (Vitamins D and B12).
What exactly is a healthful
diet, and can a vegetarian diet be classified as such?
According to the 1995 Dietary Guidelines for
Americans, healthful diets contain the amounts of essential nutrients and energy
needed to prevent nutritional deficiencies and excesses. Healthful diets also
provide the right balance of carbohydrate, fat and protein to reduce risks for
chronic diseases, and they are obtained from a variety of foods that are
available, affordable and enjoyable. Despite the endorsement of vegetarian diets
by the new U.S. Dietary Guidelines, many myths concerning various aspects of
vegetarian diets still exist.
The Protein Myth
The myth that the nine essential amino acids
cannot be obtained without incorporating meat into the diet is gradually
diminishing. People are quickly learning that they can easily combine a variety
of grains and vegetables to ensure that all nine amino acids are obtained in
adequate amounts. In fact, according to articles in the May 1994 Supplement
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, plant protein foods contribute
approximately 65 percent of the per capita supply of protein on a worldwide
The Diet of No Taste
Contrary to the wide-spread belief that a
vegetarian diet must be monotonous and devoid of taste, vegetarian meals are
very delicious and exciting, especially when several varieties of grains, fruits
and vegetables are combined. A meal that removes meat from the plate and leaves
only an unseasoned baked potato and a poorly-prepared salad may well be dull in
flavor. However, when people discover and learn to experiment with the wide
array of spices and herbs readily available for their pantry shelves, the
combinations of flavors and tastes are endless, and vegetarian cooking becomes a