June 13th, 2011 by Webmaster
The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Surgeon General unveiled a new food guide, MyPlate, that will replace the Food Pyramid that has been the standard nutrition guide since 1992. First Lady Michelle Obama, a champion of healthy eating and raising awareness about childhood obesity, spoke at the Agriculture Department in Washington DC to introduce the new, more visual guide.
The innovative plate shows four portions with vegetables and grains being the largest segments, fruit and “protein” making up the smaller sections. Not only is it very exciting that the vegetable and grain section are by far the largest slice of the plate, also noteworthy is that the actual food is listed for vegetables, fruits, and grains, however, the fourth section, “protein” is listed as a nutrient. Not as meat- not as meat/beans- just protein. The other sections could be listed as “carbohydrates” or “vitamins” but they are not. It is clear that they are specifically recommending eating vegetables, grains, and fruits, however, how you get your protein is optional. The clear message is that meat is no longer recommended or required in the diet. This is a true turning point in mainstream nutrition education. This is practically a vegan plate!
MyPlate shows the country what we in the vegan community have been excited about for years, plant-based diets ― including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes ― offer an abundant, diverse selection of nutrient-rich foods to choose from, are high in fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidants, and have no saturated fat (with the exception of coconuts and palm oil). According to numerous studies, plant-based diets have been shown to lower the risk of many diseases including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and obesity.
The only disappointment with the new guide is the separate small circle to the upper right hand side of the plate, representing a glass of dairy. Dairy is completely unnecessary in the diet and is actually harmful with high saturated fat, cholesterol, and many people are allergic, especially in communities of color. Not to mention the very sad, miserable, and short life of a dairy cow and her calves who are usually slaughtered in the veal industry. It’s unfortunate that this was included, but this shouldn’t damper our celebration of this landmark new guide.
MyPlate is an important stage in the global shift to a plant-based diet, and IDA would like to give kudos to the USDA for educating the public on the importance of vegetables and grains on our plate.
For more information on how you can go vegan or promote veganism – Please check out IDA’s Vegan Campaign Pages and Resources!