I’m Starting the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) As a Vegan…

I’m Starting the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) As a Vegan…

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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


  • Avocado
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Greens (arugula, collards, spinach, kale, chard, various lettuces, microgreens and sprouts)
  • Herbs (basil, parsley, sage, thyme,
  • Radishes
  • Sweet Potato
  • Summer Squashes
  • Winter Squashes
  • Zucchini


  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries

Pantry Staples:

  • 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
  • Nori
  • Tapioca Starch
  • Coconut Flour
  • Agar agar
  • Various spices
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Green tea
  • Black tea
  • Herbal teas
  • Coconut Oil
  • Olive Oil

Fridge Staples

  • Olives
  • Sauerkraut
  • Pickles
  • Homemade dressings and sauces
  • Homemade “cheeze”
  • Hemp seeds (not traditionally allowed on AIP, but is my one modification)
  • Kombucha

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!

14 thoughts on “I’m Starting the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) As a Vegan…”

  • Can’t wait to see what you’re eating on this plan! I am learning about this way of eating as well. Your message couldn’t have come at a better time!

    • I’m so happy to hear that, Jayne! I’ve been writing up a meal plan for myself and will definitely be sharing it (as well as random meals and recipes) as I go along!

      • I saw a reply from you to a post from Aug 2021 where you said that you’d share your meal plan(s) when you started AIP. Is there someplace I can find it? It would really help a lot. Your mention of nutritional yeast as a protein source was helpful because I hadn’t thought of that. I’m glad that it’s a staple in my kitchen! Thank you

  • I’ve not long been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and as a result of the medication I’ve put weight on and physically feel sick 90% of the time so I’m really keen to try this protocol. Thank you

  • Hi 😊. I just finished reading your post and I would like to know if you happen to make a meal plan for the AIP for vegans .. I would really appreciate if you share the link with me. Thanks a lot in advance. 😊

  • Hi I’m so happy to have just found you as I have recently been diagnosed with autoimmune & although I am currently pescatarian…I find that traditional AIP includes alot of meat. I’m considering your cookbook but I have one extra limitation which is a nut allergy & sensitivity to coconut. Do you sub everything for coconut & offer alternatives in your recipes? As you can imagine it’s made a vegan lifestyle difficult. Any other way to get a look at your recipes or meal plans first?

    • Hi Vanessa, I’m so happy you’re finding this site somewhat helpful! My cookbook is actually not AIP-based, but if you send me an email at liz@meatfreeketo.com, I can send you the recipe allergen charts and better give you an idea of what allergens are included in the recipes. 🙂

  • Absolutely love this…and your website name is awesome!! I came up with a similar program myself and even the same idea as using hemp protein as my main protein source. Of course I prefer to use the powder. I have a rare illness where my body doesn’t store potassium so I have to make sure I get enough potassium every single day and hemp protein powder is a good source of it so it’s a great protein source for someone like me. I totally believe that this will work I just need the motivation to actually DO IT!! Perhaps getting on here and seeing how things work out for you will help to get my little butt moving. LOL

  • What do you have for protein for AIP? Looks like AIP is all meat for protein, and we would avoid seed/grains, etc.

    • Hi Zara, I’m glad you found it helpful! I didn’t find it difficult to eat this way, though I’ll admit it did get a bit boring after a while. I’m working on some recipes to post to keep things more interesting, though!

  • I’ve been doing AIP for less than a year and HAVE wanted to go vegetarian. Please send me more information and recipes. I would love to stay in touch as well. Thank you so much.

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