Vegans and Carnivores: Nutritional Similarities and Differences


Still thinking that vegans only eat iceberg lettuce and grass?

Then take a good look here.

In fact, when you have an opportunity to look at both the vegan pyramid and the traditional food pyramid,  it’s amazing to see just how similar both nutritional lifestyles are.

On both pyramids, the larger area of the triangle on the bottom, shows the food group that everyone’s diet should consume the most of: the grain group. Six to 11 servings is the recommended amount of grains that vegans and those eating a traditional American diet should consume daily. The only difference with many vegans is the choice to eat more brown rice instead of white rice; or wheat bread instead of white bread.  And there’s a very good reason for that.

They are all grains. In fact, a grain is any cereal, bread or other food product made from cornmeal, barley, oats, wheat or rice – which includes all breads, tortillas, rice, cereals, oatmeal and pasta. However, while that’s enough for many Americans, most vegans figure why not go all the way down that health road. And that means opting for the whole grain instead of the refined grain.

The whole grain is considered healthier because it retains the entire kernel, which means more fiber, B vitamins  – very important to vegans – protein and other important minerals. The refined grains that create white bread, white rice and white flour have had the germ and bran removed during the milling process. Then those parts are sold back to us in the stores in the form of Wheat Germ  and bran products.

Now let’s move on up the triangle. To the left and right on the third level, you’ll see vegetables and fruits respectively – no differences here. The second level of the pyramid presents the most differences. Instead of dancing chickens and fish, vegans substitute soy milks, cheeses and yogurts and on the right beans, tofu and protein powders to get our protein fix. While the peak of the traditional food pyramid suggests that oils, sweets and fats be used sparingly, vegans are encouraged to include omega three’s and those foods and supplements that include B and D vitamins.

What’s important to note in both nutrition lifestyles is that the larger area of the pyramids – the grain food group – is our energy source. For maximum health benefits, both vegans and meat-eaters should be concentrating on getting our energy from the grain food group, rather than relying on fruits and veggies as vegans tend to do; and on dairy and meat as meat-eaters tend to do.

Let’s face it folks. While it may seem that vegans are more different than carnivores, the structure of the pyramids suggests otherwise.


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