Dr. Luciana Baroni is a medical director at the company ULSS Marca Trevigiana, a society of the Region of Veneto. She’s specialized in Neurology, Geriatrics and Gerontology, with a Master's degree in International Nutrition and Dietetics. In her clinical practice, she’s mainly engaged in the diagnosis and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, but she’s also President of the Scientific Society of Vegetarian Nutrition - SSNV, a non - profit organization, which she founded in 2000. Author and editor of numerous articles and publications on health, nutrition and lifestyle, has given many lectures and courses on vegetarian nutrition, and participated also to radio and television programs. She’s co-author and coordinator of the Master in Vegetarian Nutrition and Dietetics of the Polytechnic University of Marche, Italy.
Since the ‘90s, dietary guidelines specifically designed for vegetarian people have been published (Vegetarian Food Guides, VFGs). They differ from the dietary guidelines for the general population because they include only foods consumed by vegetarians.
After the publication of the First Loma Linda Vegetarian Pyramid, other VFGs have been proposed. New knowledge on vegetarian nutrition, based on the many studies published to date, led to the identification of the main criteria on which a nutritionally adequate and healthy plant-based diet should be constructed. In summary: 1) consuming mainly whole or minimally processed plant foods, while respecting the variety of the choices and the calorie requirements; 2) dairy and egg consumption are considered optional, i.e., unnecessary for the nutritional adequacy of a well-planned plant-based diet, and depending only on individual preferences; 3) close attention should be paid to the total amount and the type of dietary fats; 4) close attention should be paid to the critical nutrients of the diet: omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B-12, calcium and vitamin-D.
These criteria, which stretch across all the main VFGs, are also respected in the new VFG for Italian people, based on the recommendations of the 2014 Italian DRIs (LARN). VegPlate (www.VegPlate.info) includes 6 main food groups (grains, protein foods, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, fats). Two added cross-sectional groups propose special recommendations for the critical nutrients: the first includes the calcium-rich foods of the previous 6 groups but fats, and the second includes the omega-3-rich foods present in some foods belonging to the nuts and seeds and to the fats groups. Complementary to the graphic are special recommendations for the critical nutrients vitamin-B12 and vitamin-D. The intake of critical nutrients, in contrast with that of all the other nutrients, is not provided solely by the consumption of all the plate groups, according to the quantities of the serving system. A small amount of “discretionary” calories completes the plate. Starting from the basic structure of the VegPlate, which is planned to be applied to adults, children and adolescents, some adaptations allow to obtain a guide suitable for infants, pregnant and lactating women, and a guide for planning low-fat vegan diets.