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ARS Home » Plains Area » Grand Forks, North Dakota » Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center » Healthy Body Weight Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #391804

Research Project: Dietary and Physical Activity Guidance for Weight Loss and Maintenance

Location: Healthy Body Weight Research

Title: Modeling dairy-free vegetarian and vegan USDA food patterns for non-pregnant, non-lactating adults

item Hess, Julie

Submitted to: Journal of Nutrition
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/25/2022
Publication Date: 6/10/2022
Citation: Hess, J.M. 2022. Modeling dairy-free vegetarian and vegan USDA food patterns for non-pregnant, non-lactating adults. Journal of Nutrition. Article nxac100.

Interpretive Summary: The most recent official nutrition recommendations for Americans- the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2020 DGA)- include a vegetarian eating pattern. However, the 2020 DGA does not address how to adapt this pattern for vegan or dairy-free diets. This study evaluated modifications to the vegetarian eating pattern in the DGA to see if it could provide adequate nutrition for American adults who follow vegan or dairy-free vegetarian diets. Replacing the dairy foods in the vegetarian pattern with fortified soy milk and soy yogurt and replacing eggs with equal amounts of soy foods, beans and lentils, and nuts and seeds allowed us to create vegan and dairy-free vegetarian eating patterns that meet most nutritional needs for healthy adults who are not pregnant or lactating. These vegan and dairy-free eating patterns can help those American adults who choose not to eat dairy foods or other animal products to still meet their nutrition needs.

Technical Abstract: Background: The 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) recommends three dietary patterns for Americans, including a Healthy Vegetarian Dietary Pattern (HVDP). Objective: The objective of this study was to assess whether the HVDP can be adapted for dairy-free and vegan diets while providing adequate nutrition for healthy adults. Methods: Using the same food pattern modeling procedures as the 2020 DGA, the nutrient composition of two alternative models—dairy-free and vegan— of the 1800, 2000, 2200, and 2400-kcal HVDP were assessed. For both models, the dairy food composite was replaced with a dairy alternative composite (dairyALT) comprised of fortified soy milk and yogurt. For the vegan model, eggs were replaced with equal proportions of vegetarian protein foods. Results: Dairy-free and vegan models required minimal changes to the original HVDP. Servings of vegetables, fruits, grains, oils, and discretionary calories remained the same. Content of total fat, polyunsaturated fat, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, iron, copper, vitamin D, riboflavin, vitamin B12, and vitamin K increased in both models =10% (all comparisons relative to the original HVDP). Choline increased =25% in the dairy-free models. Protein decreased 11% in both 1800-kcal models and 10% in both 2000-kcal models. Sodium, cholesterol, zinc, and phosphorous decreased across all energy levels in both models, and selenium decreased in the vegan model. Carbohydrate, fiber, saturated fat, EPA, DHA, calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, thiamin, and vitamin B6 changed =10%. Both models contain adequate nutrition to meet Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) for most age and sex groups for which 1800, 2000, 2200, and 2400-kcal diets may be appropriate. Zinc is the only nutrient below the DRI for adult males. Conclusions: The dairy-free and vegan HVDP models could help adults who do not consume dairy foods and/or other animal products to choose foods that can meet nutrition recommendations.