The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog


Posted on January 08, 2016 by The VRG Blog Editor

The new Dietary Guidelines have been released by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans is a resource for health professionals and policymakers as they design and implement food and nutrition programs that feed the American people, such as USDA’s National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program, which feed more than 30 million children each school day. The Dietary Guidelines also provides information that helps Americans make healthy choices for themselves and their families.

Included in the Dietary Guidelines is a Healthy Vegetarian Eating Pattern.

The text of the Dietary Guidelines states: “The Healthy Vegetarian Pattern is adapted from Dietary Guidelines Healthy U.S.-Style Pattern, modifying amounts recommended from some food groups to more closely reflect eating patterns reported by self-identified vegetarians in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). This analysis allowed development of a Pattern that is based on evidence of the foods and amounts consumed by vegetarians, in addition to meeting the same nutrient and Dietary Guidelines standards as the Healthy U.S.-Style Pattern. Based on a comparison of the food choices of these vegetarians to nonvegetarians in NHANES, amounts of soy products (particularly tofu and other processed soy products), legumes, nuts and seeds, and whole grains were increased, and meat, poultry, and seafood were eliminated. Dairy and eggs were included because they were consumed by the majority of these vegetarians. This Pattern can be vegan if all dairy choices are comprised of fortified soy beverages (soymilk) or other plant-based dairy substitutes. Note that vegetarian adaptations of the USDA Food Patterns were included in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines. However, those adaptations did not modify the underlying structure of the Patterns, but substituted the same amounts of plant foods for animal foods in each food group. In contrast, the current Healthy Vegetarian Pattern includes changes in food group composition and amounts, based on assessing the food choices of vegetarians. The Pattern is similar in meeting nutrient standards to the Healthy U.S.-Style Pattern, but somewhat higher in calcium and fiber and lower in vitamin D due to differences in the foods included.”

“To follow this Pattern, identify the appropriate calorie level, choose a variety of foods in each group and subgroup over time in recommended amounts, and limit choices that are not in nutrient-dense forms so that the overall calorie limit is not exceeded.” See Table A5-1

Readers may also be interested in VRG’s My Vegan Plate.


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