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 EatingWell.com.
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.