Traditional Healthy Vegetarian Diet

Dietary data from vegetarians across the world that enjoyed the lowest recorded rates of chronic diseases and the highest adult life expectancy show a pattern similar to the one illustrated in the list below. The healthfulness of this pattern is corroborated by epidemiological and experimental nutrition.

  1. Multiple daily servings of foods from the three Fruits and Vegetables, Whole Grains, and Legumes mini-pyramids.
  2. Daily servings from the three Nuts and Seeds, Plant Oils, and EggWhites, Soy Milks and Dairy mini-pyramids.
  3. Occasional or small-quantity servings from the Eggs and Sweets mini-pyramid.

  4. Attention to consuming a variety of foods from all seven mini-pyramids.

  5. Daily consumption of enough water throughout the day to assure good health.

  6. Regular physical activity at a level which promotes healthy weight, fitness, and well-being.

  7. Reliance upon whole foods and minimally processed foods in preference to highly-processed foods.

  8. Moderate regular intake of alcoholic beverages such as wine, beer or spirits (optional).

  9. Daily consumption of unrefined plant oils.

  10. Dietary supplements as necessary, based upon factors such as age, sex, and lifestyle, with special attention to those avoiding dairy and/or eggs (Vitamins D and B12 ).

What exactly is a healthful diet, and can a vegetarian diet be classified as such? According to the 1995 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, healthful diets contain the amounts of essential nutrients and energy needed to prevent nutritional deficiencies and excesses. Healthful diets also provide the right balance of carbohydrate, fat and protein to reduce risks for chronic diseases, and they are obtained from a variety of foods that are available, affordable and enjoyable. Despite the endorsement of vegetarian diets by the new U.S. Dietary Guidelines, many myths concerning various aspects of vegetarian diets still exist.

The Protein Myth
The myth that the nine essential amino acids cannot be obtained without incorporating meat into the diet is gradually diminishing. People are quickly learning that they can easily combine a variety of grains and vegetables to ensure that all nine amino acids are obtained in adequate amounts. In fact, according to articles in the May 1994 Supplement American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, plant protein foods contribute approximately 65 percent of the per capita supply of protein on a worldwide basis.

The Diet of No Taste
Contrary to the wide-spread belief that a vegetarian diet must be monotonous and devoid of taste, a vegetarian meals are very delicious and exciting, especially when several varieties of grains, fruits, and vegetables are combined. A meal that removes meat from the plate and leaves only an unseasoned baked potato and a poorly-prepared salad may well be dull in flavor. However, when people discover and learn to experiment with the wide array of spices and herbs readily available for their pantry shelves, the combinations of flavors and tastes are endless, and vegetarian cooking becomes a culinary adventure.

Page and graphic courtesy from
The OldWays Preservation and Exchange Trust.

Disclaimer: Throughout this entire website, statements are made pertaining to the properties and/or functions of food and/or nutritional products. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and these materials and products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.