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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 #393775

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

Location: Healthy Body Weight Research

Title: Application of dairy-free vegetarian and vegan USDA Food Pattern Models for non-pregnant, non-lactating healthy adults

item Hess, Julie
item Comeau, Madeline

Submitted to: Journal of Food Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/10/2022
Publication Date: 9/14/2022
Citation: Hess, J.M., Comeau, M.E. 2022. Application of dairy-free vegetarian and vegan USDA Food Pattern Models for non-pregnant, non-lactating healthy adults. Journal of Food Science.

Interpretive Summary: This study assessed the quality and nutrient adequacy of sample vegan and dairy-free vegetarian menus developed based on adaptations of the 2000 kcal vegetarian dietary pattern from the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. We found that our sample vegan and dairy-free vegetarian menus, created with publicly available resources, contained enough servings of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, dairy, and oils, but did not provide enough vitamin D, vitamin E, choline, zinc (for males), and iron (for females). Following vegan and ovo-vegetarian diets requires careful planning to ensure sources of these micronutrients are included in adequate amounts.

Technical Abstract: The 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) recommends a Healthy Vegetarian Dietary Pattern (HVDP) but does not provide guidance for dairy-free vegetarian (ovo-vegetarians) or vegan diets. A recent study from our lab modeled ovo-vegetarian and vegan HVDPs for healthy adults and found minimal impacts on nutrient content. However, since these models provide only recommendations for food group amounts, the objective of this study was to determine the feasibility of implementing the 2000 kcal ovo-vegetarian and vegan models by developing sample menus and evaluating them for nutrient adequacy and diet quality. We implemented a search strategy for ovo-vegetarian and vegan recipes on the website, using the ten most frequently consumed foods from each food group as a guide. We then developed 5-day sample menus for each model and analyzed these menus for diet quality using the Healthy Eating Index Score-2015 (HEI-2015) and nutrient content. The HEI-2015 scores were 99.4 and 98.4 for the vegan and ovo-vegetarian menus, respectively. These sample menus did not achieve a perfect score of 100 due to sodium and refined grains (both menus), added sugars (ovo-vegetarian menu only), and fatty acid profiles (vegan menu only). Mean total energy was 1860 kcal (vegan) and 1880 kcal (ovo-vegetarian). Amounts of all macronutrients were within the Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges, but amounts of some micronutrients were below 90% of recommended levels. Healthy adults may be able to follow ovo-vegetarian and vegan diets with careful planning, but this study reveals challenges in meeting micronutrient needs with these eating patterns.