Vegetarian Food Plate

Want to eat healthy as a vegetarian or vegan? This plate will get you there.

I was writing recently about the tiff between the USDA and Harvard about their dueling Food Plates. Harvard thought the USDA was too heavily influenced by food lobbyists (so do I) so they came up with their own plate which ignores dairy and trashes potatoes and deli meat. I've been gradually going more vegetarian/vegan and it got me thinking what about the happy-munching-plant people? Is there a food plate for us?  We're in luck; there's a great one at The plate is divided roughly into thirds: 1/3 fruit and vegetables, 1/3 starchy foods (potatoes are okay here, especially sweet potatoes), and 1/3 other things like protein, healthy oils, and dairy and dairy alternatives. I like this plate because it's trying to be inclusive of both vegetarians and vegans. If you don't want cow's milk they offer substitutes from soy or nuts for instance. It really tries to give everyone who is plant-based a guideline to work from without being confusing. I've got a couple of quibbles, though.  I do think five servings of fruits and vegetables is a little light, and it should be more than the starchy carbs. I've met plenty of vegetarians in my day that chow down on pasta and pizza; that's not exactly healthy living. It also doesn't put an emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables and suggests that any way you get them into your diet, including frozen or juiced, is just fine. I think frozen and juiced is okay, but shouldn't be on an equal playing field with fresh. If you are a Fork over Knives vegan and want to eliminate all added oils, just drop that wedge of the plate and work with your usual substitutes for moisture and cooking. If you're a vegetarian or vegan, please chime in. How closely do you adhere to this plate's guidelines? Do you find it refreshing vs. the USDA's plate? Let's discuss. Cheers, Lisa

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.

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5 Responses to Vegetarian Food Plate

  1. Tara Burner September 22, 2011 at 4:04 pm #

    I don’t keep track of what I eat…
    I don’t eat/consume milk or dairy
    Was vegan for many many years til recently, now do occasionally organic chicken other than that nothing from animal
    I do consume the majority of my food via fruit/veggies
    I juice my own fruit for juice (no commercially made stuff other than Matt’s Organic OJ–it’s the bomb!)
    quinoa, brown rice
    nuts, beans
    but I don’t keep track of everything

  2. genevieve September 25, 2011 at 5:57 pm #

    This is awesome. As a vegetarian, I feel like nutritional advice is lacking, besides the excessive warnings about malnutrition (really, people?). Loving this sweet and simple food plate! The Harvard one is also pretty awesome.

  3. Lisa Johnson September 25, 2011 at 6:36 pm #

    Thanks Genevieve, glad you like it. :-)

  4. Natasha Crawford October 14, 2011 at 4:05 pm #

    This is great! I will definitely be sharing this post.
    I agree with Genevieve; as a vegetarian all of warnings about being malnourished annoy me. I get that it comes from a place of love (I think), but give us some credit.

    Anywhoo, I do like the USDA’s new MyPlate. It’s simple and to the point. It’s easy to adapt to suit my “veggie” needs. It’s definitely better than the old pyramids, IMO.

  5. Lisa Johnson October 14, 2011 at 8:02 pm #

    Natasha, I do think it’s an improvement from the pyramid. Simple is good, it could still be a little better and the food lobbyists have their fingerprints all over it, but it’s not bad. L–

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