When folks find out I’m vegan, right after declaring that they would die without cheese, they usually ask various nutrition-related questions. Often, the questions are about where you get your protein, but sometimes they wonder about calcium or other nutrients like B12.
I’m a big believer in the power of a balanced diet. If you’re eating a variety of food, if there are lots of colors on your plate, and if you keep treats like sweets and fried things in moderation, I feel like you’ll probably be just fine.
The only nutrient that you can’t get enough of from plant-based sources is vitamin B12. The Vegan RD has written some great, science-based pieces on veganism and B12. This one is worth a read, if you’re wondering about how much you need and where to get it.
While I don’t really think it’s any harder for vegans to get balanced nutrition than omnivores, I do think it’s important for everyone to think a little bit about what our bodies need, so I’m always intrigued when I stumble across things like these vegan food pyramids!
That Vegan Food Guide at the top of this post is from Nutrispeak, and it’s pretty interesting. That is a LOT of grain! It also calls for a lot of dairy alternatives but puts them quite close to the top.
The other day, I ran across this other Vegan Food Pyramid:
It’s pretty much exactly the same. They flipped the grains and the veggies, but the serving amounts are the same. Six servings of grain sounds like a lot, but it’s really not. One serving of grains is pretty tiny – a slice of bread or half a cup of brown rice or pasta is a serving, so it’s pretty easy to get two servings in one meal.
I almost feel like a vegan food pyramid can get by with a bit less in the fruits and veggies section, since fruits and veggies satisfy so many of the other areas. For example, the dairy alternatives include things like kale and broccoli, since those are great sources of calcium.
It sort of feels like any diet has its pitfalls. The Standard American Diet lacks so many nutrients, and it’s often way too protein-heavy. It’s just a matter of keeping everything in balanced!