Whether you’ve seen Health Canada’s rainbow Food Guide, or the new United States Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate, it seems that everyone has their own version of a food guide. The first food guide was launched at the beginning of the 20th century in the United States, United States Department of Agriculture. (2011). A brief history of USDA food guides. Accessed 7/11/13 from http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/downloads/MyPlate/ABriefHistoryOfUSDAFoodGuides.pdf
and over the decades morphed from a wheel to a pyramid to the current plate graphic. However, many experts argue that it still has many flaws, even in its updated format. Vega formulator Brendan Brazier created his own Thrive food pyramid in a departure from the status quo to reflect clean plant-based nutrition. Here’s why:
Most government-endorsed food guides rely heavily on meat, dairy and grains. Some nutrition experts in America argue that this is because of powerful lobbying from large industrial food companies.Chan, M. (2013). WHO Director-General addresses health promotion conference. World Health Organization. Accessed 7/11/13 from http://www.who.int/dg/speeches/2013/health_promotion_20130610/en/
While the new MyPlateUnited States Department of Agriculture. (2013). MyPlate. Accessed 7/8/13 from http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/MyPlate.htm
for Americans does recommend making half the plate fruits and vegetables, it doesn’t define which types of grains, fats or proteins are most beneficial to your health. Instead of using a plate or a pyramid, Health Canada created a rainbow Food GuideHealth Canada. (2011). Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide. Accessed 7/8/13 from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/index-eng.phpto divide food groups into Fruits & Vegetables, Grains, Dairy and Meat.
Room to Improve
When Brendan wrote his first book (in the US: Thrive: the Vegan Nutrition Guide, in Canada: The Thrive Diet), the food pyramid was a fixture of public nutrition education. In his quest for constant improvement, Brendan wanted to offer a fresh take on a food guide to reflect a clean, plant-based nutrition program that would help most people to thrive.
The base of the Thrive food pyramid is fibrous vegetables that provide vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. These nutrient-rich vegetables give you the micronutrients you need, without being high in calories. The next step on the pyramid is divided between plant-based proteins, and fruit—each filling 1/5 of your plate. Plant-based proteins are alkaline-forming, and rich in fiber. You can get adequate protein through beans, nuts, seeds and fermented soy (if you’re not sensitive). Fruits are easily digested carbohydrates that are also rich in vitamins and minerals. Choose raw, unsweetened whole fruits as much as possible.
The remainder of your plate will be filled with healthy fats and starchy vegetables. Unsaturated fats from plants—cold-pressed oils, nuts, seeds and avocado—support heart health and help to keep you fuller for longer. Finally we have our starchy vegetables—whole grain, pseudograins (like quinoa, amaranth and millet), sweet potatoes and squash. Well balanced, these food groups—alongside plenty of hydrating water—will give your body the micro and macro-nutrients it needs.
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