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Hello, friends! It’s been a really long time since I’ve posted anything, so I sincerely apologize for that! I’ve been writing a second plant-based keto cookbook, and it really drained me this time. Not that there was anything bad about the process, I just found myself being too tired to do anything other than focus on the book.
Because of this, I also found my dedication to good nutrition slipping a bit in favor of more convenience. Some of you may know that I have quite a few food intolerances, and have for a while. This is actually why this blog is so dedicated to allergen-friendly foods. When I’m not dealing with too many external stressors, I don’t find it to be at all difficult to eliminate these foods, but between recipe-testing and long hours spent working…soy products, protein bars and other convenience foods snuck back into my diet, leaving me bloated, tired, achey and a bit foggy. So, I thought it might be a good opportunity to do a month-long modified AIP diet to calm everything down before attempting to reintroduce the foods that bother me.
Many years ago, I dabbled in paleo – particularly the autoimmune protocol, also called the AIP diet. If you’ve never heard of this, it’s a highly-restrictive diet that is intended to help heal the guts of those of us with autoimmune issues by eliminating inflammatory foods like grains, nuts, seeds, dairy, eggs, legumes, nightshades and processed foods. Alcohol is also prohibited.
As you can see, this eliminates a lot of sources of vegan protein (no beans, nuts and seeds!). Many years ago when I did this, I still ate dairy, and while dairy is prohibited on AIP, I included goat yogurt and goat cheese as a way to get protein. Because I’m now totally plant-based, I won’t be incorporating any goat milk products, but I do have a plan to get some protein…
How Can I Make AIP Vegan or Vegetarian?
So, typically, those on AIP get most of their protein from meat and fish. Because the autoimmune protocol eliminates nuts, seeds, beans, dairy and eggs, vegans and vegetarians find themselves in the same position here – a little light on protein-rich options. This is pretty much the one time that the question, “but where do you get your protein?” is actually appropriate.
This is where modifications come in. I debated a lot of different options for including vegan-and-vegetarian-friendly protein options into this AIP plan, but ultimately, I decided on my favorite source of protein – hemp seeds. Hemp seeds have a great omega-3:6 ratio, are low in carbs and high in protein. I’ve decided to include up to 1/2 cup (80g) of hulled hemp hearts in my meals every day to ensure that I consume sufficient amounts of protein. I considered using a hemp protein powder as well (there are several plain ones out there), but we’ll have to see how things go.
I’ll also be included nutritional yeast, another protein-packed vegan food. It’s deactivated yeast that is high in B-vitamins and super protein-dense. I plan to incorporate around 2 tablespoons of this superfood into my meals each day.
Between the hemp seeds and nutritional yeast, I’ll definitely be able to hit my protein target. If you want to try this (and I really would only suggest it if you have autoimmune issues that haven’t been resolved by less restrictive eating plans and have discussed options with your treatment team), you can go with hemp seeds as a protein source, or one that you know you definitely don’t react to.
How Long Am I Eating a Plant-Based AIP diet?
My plan is to do a solid 30 days of my modified vegan AIP plan before attempting to reintroduce anything. This is so my digestive system will be clear of any potential irritants or inflammatory foods. After the thirty days, I’ll introduce “problem” foods one by one for a few days with a little break in the middle so I can see which foods are causing the problem.
Of course, this isn’t set in stone. The duration largely depends on how I feel. If I’m thriving and feel really good, I’ll go through the full 30 days, but if I start to feel worse, I’ll cut this experiment short.
So, What Can I Eat on Vegan/Vegetarian AIP?
I know I said it’s super-restrictive, but I was being a little dramatic. Most vegetables (with the exception of nightshades) are a-ok, and I’ll definitely be eating quite a few of those. Because AIP is pretty much a whole foods diet (with the exception of ingredients like coconut flour, tapioca starch and the like), I’m expecting to hit the recommended micronutrient targets quite easily.
I’m made a separate post with a complete list of vegan and vegetarian AIP-friendly foods to make finding all the information easier, but I wanted to list out the foods that will make the bulk of my meals, as those are the ingredients I use most often and the ones that I have on hand pretty much all the time.
Plant-Based AIP Basic Ingredients
- Brussels Sprouts
- Greens (arugula, collards, spinach, kale, chard, various lettuces, microgreens and sprouts)
- Herbs (basil, parsley, sage, thyme,
- Sweet Potato
- Summer Squashes
- Winter Squashes
- Full-fat canned coconut milk (without thickeners)
- Canned pumpkin
- Dried Coconut chips (no sugar added)
- Coconut butter (also called coconut manna)
- Coconut aminos
- Kelp Noodles
- Tapioca Starch
- Coconut Flour
- Agar agar
- Various spices
- Apple cider vinegar
- Balsamic vinegar
- Green tea
- Black tea
- Herbal teas
- Coconut Oil
- Olive Oil
- Homemade dressings and sauces
- Homemade “cheeze”
- Hemp seeds (not traditionally allowed on AIP, but is my one modification)
This is far from an exhaustive list, but it’s what I’ve currently got on hand, and so it’s going to be what forms the basis of my meals. In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting a more comprehensive food list, as well as recipes and “what I eat in a day” posts. I also intend to create a meal plan to make this protocol a little less daunting to those of us who are plant-based. I hope this is a helpful start!