Vegan Food Pyramid: How To Eat A Balanced Diet

More and more people are opting for a vegan lifestyle. A balanced diet is particularly important then.

Where does the vegan food pyramid come from?

A conventional food pyramid has been around for a long time. In 1992, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) developed a food pyramid that can be used as a guide for a balanced diet. The problem with this: For the most part, this food pyramid does not apply to vegetarians and vegans because it contains animal-based foods. With the spread of vegetarianism and veganism, a corresponding food pyramid had to be created. In 2002, the first vegan food pyramid was presented by the Department of Nutrition in the USA.

How is the vegan food pyramid structured?

Like the conventional food pyramid, the vegan food pyramid consists of six levels, which get smaller at the top and are intended to represent the amount of food to be eaten. However, there are no animal foods here.

1st level: drinks. The first level forms the basis of the vegan diet. And it’s made of drinks. Two liters should be drunk daily. This amount includes water, juice spritzers, and teas. The drinks should not be too high in calories and sugar. Alcohol is completely excluded.

2nd level: Vegetables and fruit should be eaten in abundance and should be on the menu several times a day. The reason is clear: Both food groups provide many vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and protect against cancer. In addition, fruits and vegetables with low energy content ensure a long saturation. You should eat fruit and vegetables as raw as possible because many valuable ingredients are lost during cooking. It should be around 400 grams (three servings) of vegetables and 300 grams (two servings) of fruit a day. Dark green vegetables such as kale, savoy cabbage, broccoli, and lamb’s lettuce also provide you with an extra dose of calcium.

3rd level: The third level of the vegan food pyramid is reserved for grains and potatoes. Four servings a day (500 grams) should consist of it. These servings can consist of rice, cereals, potatoes, or pseudo-cereals. Whole grain products in particular provide essential minerals, vitamins, and fiber. And especially carbohydrates. They are also important sources of protein for vegans. Heavily sugared muesli mixtures or muesli bars do not count. High-fat potato products (such as potato pancakes or fries) also do not belong to this level.

4th level: nuts and seeds. This also includes legumes such as peas, beans, or lentils. These can be on the menu every day but should be at least several times a week. Tofu and tempeh also fall into this category. Up to three servings (400 grams) can be eaten daily. Meat alternatives made from wheat protein should not be eaten that often. The recommendation here is a maximum of once or twice a week. In addition to protein, nuts and seeds also provide important fatty acids. However, nuts should be consumed in moderation due to their high energy content. 30 to 60 grams a day are sufficient.

5th level: oils, fats, and salt. The use of spreads, frying fats, and oils should be no more than three tablespoons a day. This also includes vegan mayonnaise. Linseed, rapeseed, and walnut oil should be preferred, as they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. You should also be careful with salt. However, salt with a high iodine content is a good source of iodine.

6th level: The last level belongs to the sweets, snacks, and alcohol and belongs to the extras. It can therefore also be omitted completely. If you don’t want to completely do without chips, cake, chocolate, French fries, and similar snacks and alcohol, a guideline value of one portion (100 grams) a day is the right choice.

With all information, you should make sure that 2000 calories per day are not exceeded. It is best to put together a nutrition plan at the beginning to get a feeling for the amounts.

Supporting measures

A healthy and balanced diet is very important and is the main part of a healthy lifestyle. However, the movement also plays an important role. At least 30 minutes a day not only has a positive effect on body weight and the cardiovascular system but also increases well-being. Small movements are often enough to strengthen the body. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk the last stop home, or take an after-dinner walk.

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Written by Florentina Lewis

Hello! My name is Florentina, and I'm a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a background in teaching, recipe development, and coaching. I'm passionate about creating evidence-based content to empower and educate people to live healthier lifestyles. Having been trained in nutrition and holistic wellness, I use a sustainable approach toward health & wellness, using food as medicine to help my clients achieve that balance they are looking for. With my high expertise in nutrition, I can create customized meal plans that fit a specific diet (low-carb, keto, Mediterranean, dairy-free, etc.) and target (losing weight, building muscle mass). I am also a recipe creator and reviewer.

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