Winter 2014                                A Seasonal Newsletter from the Oldways Vegetarian Network

In this Issue
>What Our Survey Told Us
>Revised Pyramid Introduced in Houston

By the Numbers
Worldwide News
Nutrition Lines
By Sharon Palmer, RD

Fast Food Report
Vegetarian and Vegan    
Diets Win for Weight Lost

News from our Sponsors
and Partners

Happy New Year!


As this year comes to an end, we're celebrating the fact that we've very successfully added the updated Vegetarian & Vegan Diet Pyramid to our collection of Oldways resources, and we've introduced a new program-the Oldways Vegetarian Network (OVN)-to promote the health benefits of a diet built upon traditional, whole plant foods. We hope you'll join us by reading this very first issue of our quarterly newsletter.

   New & Noteworthy
Andrea MacDonald, a dietitian with Hannaford Brothers in Augusta, Maine, won the Le Creuset cooking set Oldways offered as a prize for parti-cipating in our dietitian survey. (Special thanks to Le Creuset!)
What Our Survey Told Us

This past summer, with the help of Food & Nutrition magazine, the OVN conducted an online survey of dietitians to learn more about their attitudes toward promoting vegetarian and vegan diets. These important influencers are a key link to helping consumers understand how to follow a well-balanced plant-based diet.  

According to the 1,139 registered dietitians and others who completed our survey, 96% believe that plant-based diets, including vegetarian and vegan, can be healthful, although less than 15% were vegetarian or vegan themselves. Still, only 39% said they felt comfortable counseling clients about vegetarian/vegan diets and 90% said they would like more information, indicating a need for additional tools. The OVN plans to meet this need over the next year by creating more recipes and more easy-to-use resources to help consumers make the shift away from meat as the primary source of protein on their plates and to help RDs counsel their patients.

 Cultivating Connections

Revised Pyramid Introduced in Houston 

On October 19, during the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics' annual Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE) in Houston, we introduced Oldways newly updated pyramid at a well-attended media reception at The Grove, overlooking the city's new urban park, Discovery Green. We enjoyed cocktails and vegetarian appetizers from around the world created by Chef Robert Del Grande: Vegetable spring rolls with a sweet tamarind dipping sauce; aromatic stuffed mushrooms; chilled Moroccan pumpkin "shooters"; aromatic stuffed mushrooms; and chickpea masala with crisp shallots. Chef Robert was on hand to make a few remarks. We loved his idea that supermarket shopping carts ought to be shaped like our new food pyramid, to guide shoppers in making healthy choices. And pointing to the delicious food served that night, he emphasized his belief that the miracle of great plant-based cuisine is in the food itself.


null During FNCE, Oldways hosted one of 350 exhibitor booths, where we were visited by leading health food manufacturers, chefs, authors, and scientists who all shared the latest cutting edge nutritional information and products.     


We met hundreds of dietitians, all looking to share ideas on how to help patients and communities realize improved health, in many cases by preserving and reviving delicious cultural traditions. As Americans better understand food as medicine, the scope and future of dietetics grows.


At right: One special treat for the Oldways team at FNCE was raffling off a handmade carrot-shaped tote bag from Russia! The lucky winner was Diana Reid from Washington. She is an MPH candidate at the University of Washington.

By the Numbers 

Hundreds of studies show the scientifically proven benefits of a plant-based diet, including improved health, lower disease risk, weight loss and, according to a significant study of 70,000 Seventh-day Adventistspublished online by JAMA in June 2013, longevity. It's a fact: Eating plants is very, very good for us and a well-planned vegetarian or vegan diet provides everything your body needs to thrive.


The number of vegetarians/vegans is growing.

7% of consumers identify as vegetarian, according to research by Mintel (August 2013).


The new vegetarianism is not all or nothing.

Nearly half of Americans (47%) eat vegetarian meals, according to the Vegetarian Resource Group's 2012 National Harris Poll.


Americans are cutting back on meat... 


According to a 2012 nationwide survey commissioned by The Monday Campaigns,

59% of respondents have cut back on meat in the past year and 41% are actively trying to do so now.
Health concerns drive decision.

62% of respondents report that health is the primary reason they are cutting back or considering cutting back on meat.


All Vegan Supermarket

The first all-vegan European supermarket, Veganz, (above) opened in 2011 in Berlin and the plant-based mega store concept, fueled by charismatic founder, Jan Bredack, is putting down more roots. It has added a second store in Berlin, also operates stores in Frankfurt and Hamburg, and plans to have 21 stores, including one in London, running by the end of 2015. Veganz stores currently offer 80 cheese alternatives and more than 6,000 vegan products from 30 countries, with 70% from Germany.

Veg Diet for Norway's Troops

Norway is focusing attention on plant-based diets, too. The Norwegian military announced last month that it plans to feed all troops a vegetarian diet once a week, on Mondays, to do its part in cutting consumption of meat, and taking climate and environmental issues seriously. It has already tested the ideas at one of the main bases, and plans to serve the new menu to all units, including those overseas.


  Nutrition Lines                                                by Sharon Palmer

Sharon Palmer, the consulting dietitian for the OVN, also served on the 10-member scientific committee that helped us update our 1997 vegetarian pyramid. In each issue of this newsletter she will provide an answer to a commonly-asked question about plant-based diets. Please feel free to post other questions or share your thoughts on the Oldways Forum.  


Q. How can you get omega-3s if you eat a vegetarian or vegan diet with no fish?


A. Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat that have been linked with a number of health benefits, including lowering inflammation, blood lipids, and blood pressure levels, and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, and sudden death for people with heart disease. They've even been linked with brain protection. There seems little doubt that eating these healthy fats -- especially in foods -- is linked with optimal health.



There are two types of omega-3s, the long chain type-EPA and DHA,which is found in cold water fish, like salmon and herring, and the short chain type ALA, which is found in plant foods, like soy, walnuts, chia seed, and flax seed. Most of the health benefits scientists have found for omega-3s have been linked to fish or fish oil consumption. Your body can modestly convert ALA into EPA and DHA.   However, ALA has proven to have its own benefits, such as heart health and reducing inflammation. In fact, a 2009 study found that an ALA-rich diet resulted in better total and LDL cholesterol levels than an EPA- and DHA-rich diet, though the latter diet resulted in better HDL cholesterol and triglycerides, leading the researchers to conclude that both ALA and EPA+DHA offered benefits.


Vegetarians can also take advantage of vegetarian DHA and EPA supplements made from marine algae, where fish get their omega-3s to begin with. The overall recommendation is for healthy adults to get .3 - .5 grams per day of EPA+DHA, and .8 - 1.1 g of ALA. Vegetarians tend to get a lot of ALA in their diets, which can help make up for lowered intake of EPA and DHA. Foods high in ALA include flax seed, chia seed, walnuts, canola oil, soybean oil, seaweed, and hemp seed.


-- Sharon Palmer, RD, dietitian and author of The Plant-Powered Diet (2012) and Plant-Powered for Life (2014).


  Fast Food Report


Chipotle is currently testing a new vegetarian menu item called "sofritas" - shredded tofu braised with chilis, roasted poblanos, and a blend of aromatic spices, made with organic, non-GMO tofu. It was conceived with vegans and vegetarians in mind, but the company believes it will have broad appeal. They are currently testing sofritas in several markets: California, the Pacific Northwest, Colorado, Chicago, Philly, D.C., and Baltimore. Chipotle also recently removed bacon from their pinto bean recipe and found that removing the bacon didn't negatively impact the taste, and gave them one more option for vegetarians.  



 Research & Reports 

Vegetarian and Vegan Diets Win for Weight Loss     

Last month at Obesity Week in Atlanta, Brie Turner-McGrievy, PhD, MS, RD, of the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina, and colleagues reported that following a vegetarian or vegan diet may help obese patients lose more weight than diets that allow limited amounts of meat. And even better news? The study didn't count calories. In a randomized trial, 63 adults with a mean age of 49 were randomly assigned to one of five diets. Those who followed a vegan or vegetarian diet lost significantly more pounds over two months than those who followed a typical omnivorous diet - about a 5% reduction in body weight compared with a 2% loss from other groups. Their study showed that when, after two months, patients were permitted to add any foods they wanted back into their diets, the vegan and vegetarian groups continued to drop more weight than the omnivores (about 8% and 6%, respectively, compared with 3%).


Turner-McGrievy said the findings "point to a potential use of plant-based eating styles in the prevention and treatment of obesity and related chronic diseases." (Clinical Endocrinology News, November 2013.)  


Click here to read more recent health studies focusing on plant-based diets.


 News from our Sponsors & Partners

Eat Your Avocados

Hass Avocado Board (HAB) established a Nutrition Research program in 2010 to increase awareness and improve understanding of the unique benefits of avocados to human health and nutrition. Among ongoing studies, data published in the January 2013 issue of Nutrition Journal showed an interesting association with avocado consumption and better nutrient intakes and other positive outcomes. The findings, based on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), showed that compared to people who didn't eat avocado, avocado consumers had a better diet quality and beneficial nutrient intakes: lower intake of added sugars; lower body weight, BMI, and waist circumference; higher "good cholesterol" levels; and lower metabolic syndrome risk.


Silk and WIC

Silk, America's best-selling soymilk brand, has been out to make the world a healthier place with wholesome, nutritious plant-based foods that are good for you and good for the planet. Silk Original soymilk delivers 8g of soy protein per 8 ounce serving and 45% DV of calcium dairy milk. It's low in saturated fat, 100% cholesterol-free, free of dairy, lactose and gluten, and contains no artificial colors, flavors, or high-fructose corn syrup.


Now, Silk Original soymilk is fully compliant with federal WIC standards. To find out if Silk soymilk is on your state's WIC approved food list, please contact your local WIC office. Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is a short-term intervention program designed to influence lifetime nutrition and health behaviors in a targeted, high-risk population. Information received from WIC clinics includes nutrition education, breastfeeding support & promotion, healthy food options, screening and referrals for healthcare and social services.1 


[1] National WIC Association, WIC Program Overview and History. accessed November 20, 2013


Soy Foods for the Holidays

Following the holiday season, when trips to the gym have been less frequent, Soyfoods Association of North America has released a video on the Benefits of Soyfoods for Active Adults, demonstrating how soyfoods can help you stay fit and healthy in the New Year. In the video, nutrition and fitness expert Rebecca Scritchfield, RD shares her view that "stories in the media have some people confused over soy. The truth is men, women and children can consume soyfoods safely." In fact, not only are soyfoods safe, they provide important benefits to adults trying to stay active. Scritchfield continues, "Soyfoods are good for your heart. The FDA has approved a health claim that states eating 25 grams of soy protein a day as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease." In addition, eating soyfoods, especially when begun at a young age, is showing benefits in breast cancer prevention.   


Bringing healthier foods to the table can be easier - and more delicious - than you might think. When you incorporate soyfoods, the only complete, plant-based protein, you open up the door to a wide variety of tasty and nutritious meals.


Gluten-Free Muesli from Bob's Red Mill

Offering one of the largest lines of organic whole foods, Bob's Red Mill handles the production process for all its foods in-house, from processing to shipping the final product. It's a go-to source for a wide range of vegetarian and vegan-friendly products, including grains that are gaining in popularity, such as farro, teff, amaranth, millet, and kamut. The company has also been expanding its line of gluten-free products and has added a gluten-free muesli to get a single, unprocessed whole grain cereal to the millions of consumers who avoid gluten. Providing 100 calories and 3 grams of protein per ¼ cup dry cereal, the muesli can be eaten as a cold cereal, cooked like a hot cereal, or soaked overnight.


Peanuts for Good Health

Are you eating your daily peanuts? The Peanut Institute shares results of a recent major study showing that eating a handful of peanuts daily can reduce the risk of death from multiple causes by up to 20%. It is the largest and strongest study ever done looking at all-cause mortality and nut consumption.  

Results were strongest when peanuts were eaten in small amounts daily, but results were also seen with any peanut consumption. Researcher Dr. Ying explains, "In all these analyses, the more nuts people ate, the less likely they were to die over the 30-year follow-up period." Compared to non-nut eaters, those who ate peanuts less than one time a week reduced risk of death by 7%; weekly eaters reduced risk by 11%; eating peanuts two to four times a week cut risk by 13%; and eating peanuts seven or more times a week cut risk by about 20%.  


When peanuts were separated from other nuts and looked at individually, strong results were seen. The study showed eating peanuts at least twice a week increased longevity and reduced death from heart disease, cancer, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, stroke, infection, kidney disease, and respiratory diseases. The study also showed that frequent peanut consumption did not cause weight gain. In fact, those who ate more peanuts had lower BMIs and were less likely to gain weight.  


Researchers explain the nutrients in peanuts and nuts, including plant-protein, healthy oils, phytochemicals, and many vitamins and minerals, may offer cardio-protective, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. Peanuts have more protein than any other nut, are a good source of fiber, vitamin E, folate, phosphorus, thiamin, copper, and magnesium, and an excellent source of niacin and manganese.  


New Label From Del Monte

One of the messages the OVN stands solidly behind is that all forms of produce - fresh, frozen, and canned - play an important role in nutritionally sound plant-based diets. To help consumers understand why it is important to drain canned vegetables, Del Monte has created a new label that provides the sodium content of many vegetable products after the can has been drained. Using the drained label, consumers can easily understand how little sodium remains in each serving of canned vegetables. Dietitian Sarah Ludmer, Manager of Nutritional Services and Communications for Del Monte, explained that the new label is a better representation of what is actually consumed. "On average, draining reduces sodium by 40%, which is a significant difference than what the standard labels imply," she explained.  The new label appears on the majority of the company's vegetables, with the exception of products such as cream-style corn, which are not commonly consumed drained. It was implemented with this year's pack season, which started in April and ended in September. Ludmer added that the new label was put into place to help consumers understand the "all forms message." Less than 2% of Americans get enough fruits and vegetables in their daily diets, and 96% don't believe canned fruits and vegetables are healthy and therefore miss this option. Del Monte hopes this new label, along with various studies supporting the all forms message, will help break that perception barrier and increase fruit and vegetable consumption.


Sneak Preview!
Later this month, Westbrae will introduce their new, colorful Non-GMO labels featuring our new pyramid. We'll share further details about this exciting visibility for the OVN in the next issue.

 Good Works  
A Decade of Nutritional Progress

Meatless Monday, one of America's most successful public health campaigns, recently celebrated its tenth birthday at a Scientific Symposium on October 17 at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. The event featured a distinguished panel of physicians, researchers, and advocates who discussed specific aspects of the initiative, a look at the public health impacts of a high meat diet, research into the effectiveness of using Monday as a day for behavioral change, and a vision for the future.  The event also looked back on the origins of the campaign: During World Wars I and II, "Meatless Monday" urged Americans to cut back on meat to aid the war effort. Meatless Monday revived this message with the easy-to-follow directive: "One day a week, cut out meat."


At the October symposium, Sid Lerner, founder and chairman of the Monday Campaigns, was awarded the Dean's Medal, the Bloomberg School of Public Health's highest honor.
Nina Colangelo, Veggiecation®'s Assistant Program Director and Certified Veggiecation Educator, talks with students before whisking up a lemony-dressing for their Snap Pea Salad in New York City.

Helping Kids Love Veggies

For the past four years, Veggiecation©, an evidence-based children's culinary nutrition education program, has been teaching their signature Healthy Kids Cooking Classes to children in the New York tri-state area. 

This past August, the evidence-based program launched an online training program that allows individuals from all over the US, Puerto Rico, and Canada to become certified in teaching these transformational classes. The three-hour training explains to Veggiecation© educators the formula for teaching children about vegetables in an engaging and meaningful way.


 Special thanks to our sponsors and partners: Bob's Red Mill; Daisy Brand; Del Monte; Hass Avocado Board; Meatless Monday; The Peanut Institute; Produce for Better Health Foundation; Silk; Soy Foods of North America; Veggiecation; Westbrae.


Sara Baer-Sinnott

Georgia Orcutt
Program Manager