Vegan Guidelines Included For The First Time in Combined Pyramid

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BOSTON, October 19, 2013 — To encourage everyone to put more plants on their plates, the traditional diet experts at the nonprofit Oldways are introducing a newly updated Vegetarian & Vegan Diet Pyramid along with easy-to-use resources including daily serving suggestions, practical cooking and lifestyle tips, recipes and other tools.  For the first time, the Pyramid will include vegan guidelines, which are astonishingly similar to the vegetarian guidelines.

“Interest in following a plant-based diet is at an all time high, whether people pack their plates with vegetables once a day, once a week, or all their lives,” said Sara Baer-Sinnott, president, Oldways.  “Yet there is more to vegetarian or vegan eating and Oldways’ Vegetarian & Vegan Diet Pyramid and other tools will help answer questions and provide people of all ages with a well-planned and well-balanced way to enjoy this healthy traditional diet.”

The original Vegetarian Diet Pyramid, the fourth traditional diet pyramid released by Oldways, was presented at the 1997 International Conference on Vegetarian Diets held in Austin, Texas.  As Oldways’ decades-long exploration of the health benefits of traditional diets reinforces, many variations of vegetarian diets have existed in different cultures throughout history.  The Traditional Vegetarian Diet illustrated in the original pyramid, and now the updated version, reflects the vast variety of delicious, healthy foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, herbs and spices that fit into this eating pattern.

To create this enhanced Vegetarian & Vegan Diet Pyramid, which will be unveiled on October 19, 2013, at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo in Houston, Oldways brought together a world-renowned scientific committee to review extensive scientific data on plant-based diets and provide recommendations for updates.  This committee includes Dr. Joan Sabaté of Loma Linda University, Drs. David Jenkins and Cyril Kendall of the University of Toronto, and Drs. Walter Willett and Frank Sacks of the Harvard School of Public Health, Registered Dietitians Sharon Palmer, Kathy McManus of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Ginny Messina of Loma Linda University, among others.

Hundreds of scientific studies support the benefits of a plant-based diet, including improved health, lower disease risk, weight loss and, according to a significant study of 70,000 Seventh-day Adventists, published online by JAMA in June 2013, improved longevity.

“To reap the health rewards, it is important that people plan their plant-based diet meals, not just eat blueberries and lettuce, for example,” said Committee Member and Registered Dietitian Sharon Palmer. “There are important nutritional profiles behind the Oldways Vegetarian & Vegan Diet Pyramid and it shows people the important variety of foods they can and should eat every day.”

Plant-based eating is picking up steam.  In fact, nearly half of Americans (47%) eat vegetarian meals, according to the Vegetarian Resource Group’s 2012 National Harris Poll.  Eating this way allows enjoyment of an abundance of delicious foods while consuming fewer calories, leading to better health and wellbeing.

Health care professionals have long recognized the healthfulness of moving fruits and vegetables to the center of the plate and are a key link to helping consumers understand how to follow a well-balanced plant-based diet.

According to Oldways Vegetarian Network’s 2013 online survey of 1,139 registered dietitians and others, 96% believe that plant-based diets, including vegetarian and vegan, can be healthful, although less than 15% were vegetarian or vegan themselves.  Still, only 39% feel comfortable counseling clients about vegetarian/vegan diets and 90% said they would like more information, indicating a need for additional tools such as Oldways Vegetarian & Vegan Diet Pyramid.

To help, Oldways Vegetarian Network will reach consumers, media, health professionals, grocery retailers, and others with program activities, including a 4-week meal plan, recipe collection, the “Vege Pledge,” restaurant connections, toolkits, website resources, and more.

The Oldways Vegetarian & Vegan Diet Pyramid and the launch of the Oldways Vegetarian Network program was made possible thanks to the support of sponsor and partner organizations:
Sponsors: Bob’s Red Mill, Daisy Brand Cottage Cheese, DelMonte, Hass Avocado Board, The Peanut Institute, Silk, Soy Foods of North America, and Westbrae Natural.
Partners: Meatless Monday, Produce for Better Health Foundation, and Veggiecation.

Everyone is encouraged to join in the conversation on Twitter.  To share favorite vegetarian and vegan recipes, tips and news about the new pyramid use the hashtag #VegHealth.

Please contact Rachel Greenstein ( or 617-896-4888) for more information, including hi-res Pyramid illustration/graphics, interviews with Oldways and the scientific committee, or recipes.

About Oldways
Oldways ( is a nonprofit food and nutrition education organization, guiding people to good health through heritage. Oldways is best known for its family of healthy, traditional food pyramids, including the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid, as well as its Whole Grains Council and Whole Grain Stamp, now on more than 8,600 products in 41 countries.  For two decades, Oldways has collaborated worldwide with experts including scientists, health care professionals, chefs, historians, food producers and food writers to create “mini-movements” that have inspired millions of people to change the way they eat.