The vegan food pyramid consists of five basic categories: grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts, and fats. It recommends eating a variety of fresh foods in different colors and textures in order to get complete nutrition. Vegans should generally be sure to eat plenty of carbohydrates and ensure that their calcium and protein needs are met. Foods fortified with vitamin B12 and vitamin D may be necessary supplements to the foods recommended on the pyramid.
Whole grains form the largest portion of the vegan food pyramid. As they are rich in carbohydrates, they are an important part of the energy requirements in a vegan diet. It is recommended to eat six to 11 servings of whole grains a day. Cereal, bread, and cooked grains are all good choices.
The next level of the vegan food pyramid is fruits and vegetables. Recommendations vary as to what amount to eat, but at least two to four servings of each are suggested per day. In order to benefit from a wide array of nutritional possibilities, it is best to eat several different colors of fruits, such as berries, citrus, bananas, and apples. Dark greens such as bok choy, collards, broccoli, and kale can provide much needed calcium for a vegan diet, as well as being rich in antioxidants.
At least two to three servings of beans, legumes, and other plant-based protein sources are recommended by the vegan food pyramid. Soy products such as tempeh and tofu are excellent replacements for meat and dairy protein. Lentils and different varieties of peas and beans are also healthy choices. Nuts and nut butters — such as peanut butter, almond butter, and hazelnut butter — are good sources of protein as well. There are also several meat substitute products available which are often made of varying combinations of soy, nuts, and grains.
Though the vegan food pyramid recommends that fats, sweets, and oils be consumed in moderation, they can be a part of a healthy diet. Walnut, flaxseed, and olive oils provide essential omega-3 fatty acids. Dairy and trans fat-free margarine and sweets are also acceptable if consumed in moderation.
There are several processed foods which are supplemented with the vitamin B12, vitamin D, and calcium that can be difficult to eat in sufficient quantity on a vegan diet. Milk replacement beverages made of soy, almonds, hazelnuts, and hemp are often supplemented with several different vitamins and minerals. Many meat substitutes, cereals, and breads are also fortified.