AIP Diet for Vegetarians
Alopecia + Auto-Immune

Following the AIP Diet for Vegetarians and Vegans- Is it Doable?

If you are starting to read or research about the AIP diet or AutoImmune Protocol you know it is a diet that is meant to bring down your inflammation. By eliminating food items such as dairy, gluten, sugar, soy, processed foods, nightshades, legumes, nuts and seeds, AIP rebuilds your gut, balances your hormones and gives you a nutrient dense diet to combat inflammation. If you are a vegetarian or vegan that pretty much cuts out half your food options. So the question then is: Is the AIP diet for vegetarians or vegans doable?

Can I follow the AIP Diet for Vegetarians and Vegans…Sure.

The answer is not in its “traditional” form. So, in that case, the AIP diet for a vegetarian or vegan will follow the same principles of healing but will be more specific to the person, which is YOU! I will also provide a video below of someone who healed their alopecia areata with a veggie-based inflammation diet so don’t you worry!

AIP Diet for Vegetarians

*Guess what else? Vegetarian and Vegan AIP is the same AIP since there is no dairy consuming going on over here:)

The short answer to the long ongoing argument for vegetarian/vegan AIP or traditional AIP is:

Two words folks, Amino acids. The main reason why people think vegetarians or vegans can’t do the AIP diet or AutoImmune Protocol for Alopecia or any other Autoimmune disease comes down to amino acids.

Amino acids are the foreman in building our cells, specifically our white blood cells. If you have alopecia areata or most other autoimmune issues your white blood cells have gone rogue and are all mixed up with the wrong people- themselves!

Amino acids primarily come from meat and seafood sources.

The other arguments concern protein sources (eating too much soy), omega’s, bone broth, and vitamin deficiencies. I have all that covered that follow the principles of autoimmune healing that let you in on the autoimmune healing fun.

There are Two Phases on the AIP Diet for Vegetarians.

Like Traditional AIP there are two phases meant to bring down your inflammation, rebuild your gut, address any food allergies, and balance your hormones. Elimination and Reintroduction. On the elimination phase, you remove foods that could potentially contribute to leaky gut, allergies, and inflammation. After a minimum of a month (for most it’s longer) you slowly and carefully work back in foods to test if they will produce a reaction.


Phase 1 Elimination:

No Nightshade Vegetables or Spices

This is the most important elimination in my opinion. Nightshades can mimic the inflammatory responses you are already having as well as increasing your gut permeability.

This means no tomatoes, potatoes, chilis of any kind, peppers of any kind, tomatillos, Ashwagandha, Gooseberries, Capsicums, Curry Powder, Garam Masala, Goji Berries, Okra, Paprika

Sarah Ballantyne of Paleo Mom explains why cutting nightshades are super important.

No Dairy

This may be a bit harder as this is a frequently enjoyed food item for vegetarians. You may have a lactose intolerance or other allergies to dairy proteins and enzymes you may not even be aware of..yet. Best to cut out initially for the month, you can always work back in small amounts at a later time after your system is more balanced.

I had no issue with Ghee and I noticed a lot of folks do not cut this out of their diet. Also FYI goat or sheep dairy is usually less reactive than cow dairy. 

No Gluten or Grains

No gluten, no bread, no wheat, no grains, no oats, no millet. With improper preparation methods, products containing these have been known to upset the gut and interfere with your digestive system balance. It also takes up valuable nutrient space that should be filled with nutrient dense veggies.

*A note on rice- I reintroduced rice after the first month on AIP and had no issues. On my second round, I ate white rice from the start and saw autoimmune improvement and hair growth. Black, wild, and white rice, I personally think are fine in moderation but brown I am not a fan as I notice it is super rough on the digestion. If that’s not the case for you then enjoy!

Sugar

Added sugars cause inflammation. These means no fake, alternative or manufactured sugars. No alternative sweetness like xylitol, stevia (even though it is made from a leaf), mannitol, aspartame, ace sulfate potassium, erythritol, saccharin, sorbitol, sucralose, etc.

Caffeine and Alcohol

No Sodas, caffeinated drinks, energy drinks etc. Limit coffee and caffeinated tea’s if possible. The point is to calm your system not send your adrenal glands into action!

Alcohol also produces acidity, causes leaky gut, and inflammation. You can cook with wine but take a break for now.

No NSAIDs or Preservatives

Preservatives you guys probably don’t eat a bunch of, but definitely stay away from those as they will mess with your digestive areas. Check the label for carrageenan and guar gum, they are a no go ingredient.

Common everyday types of NSAIDs are Naproxen Sodium, Aspirin, Celebrex, Ibuprofen, Aleve, etc. Here’s where depending on the severity of your autoimmune outbreak or health status I tell you I am not a Doctor and to contact accordingly.

*Also if you are taking these for pain management, by all means, do what is right for you.

NO Processed or Fried Foods

Unlikely if you are a vegetarian or vegan! Good job people!


Grey Areas of the AIP Diet for Vegetarians.

Here is where the traditional AIP diet starts to look a little grey as we modify for Vegetarians and Vegans. On traditional AIP during the Elimination phase nuts, seeds, and legumes aren’t allowed.

However, this is where we focus on common sense, the principles of healing and what’s best for YOU!

The parts of the world with the longest and most healthy lifestyles all have diets rich in seeds, nuts, and legumes, so that’s interesting. Initially, I would, and did, limit legumes, seeds, and nuts so my body had access to more vegetables. BUT if that’s not an option here’s what I think you could do:

Soy

Make sure it is high-quality NON GMO and Organic. Eat in moderation and NOT at every meal. Soy can be known to throw off your hormones and AIP is meant to balance them.

Lentils

I would definitely limit if not temporarily avoid lentils.  I know vegetarians and vegans LOVE them but they can be rough on the digestive areas. If there is no way around them then make sure they are thoroughly cooked, like any other legume going forward.

Legumes

Beans are where I start to go grey as well because after my reintroducing on my first round of AIP I had no issues, and on my second round of AIP I also ate them here and there.  Some people talk about the phytic acids, the lectins, being an antinutrient, etc.

Here’s my take- cultures all over the world have survived and flourished eating legumes so in my opinion, they are a okay. What I would do though is eat them before or after you are eating you nutrient dense veggies to make sure your body has adequate time to absorb the good stuff.

I eat them but I do limit to small quantities and make sure my plate is vegetable-centric.

Seeds and Nuts

Quinoa is a seed that I know a lot of vegetarians and vegans enjoy for its protein content, but I personally think quinoa is too tough on your digestion. It can actually scratch your digestive lining because it’s so rough and tough. If you must eat this- limited quantities.

AIP Diet for Vegetarians

If you rely on seeds and nuts make sure you are getting the most out of them! Almonds, cashews, chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, brazil nuts, are better options than peanuts. Use moderation with these as well, but for some, they may have no negative effect. (Remember the point of eliminating or limiting is to discover what does affect your system.)


What CAN I Eat On Vegetarian AIP?

Okay, here we go! Tos of nutrient-dense foods. Really it is about loading up on the vegetables and for vegetarians temporarily modifying or limiting seeds, nuts, and legumes. When grocery shopping, stick to a color guide. Buy green, orange and purple and you will surely be eating your nutrient-dense vegetables.

Vegetables

AIP Diet for Vegetarians

Salad Greens, spinach, kale, lettuce, asparagus…

AIP Diet for Vegetarians

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beets, carrots, olives….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AIP Diet for Vegetarians

 

Mushrooms, parsnips, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, squash, yucca, root vegetables…AIP Diet for Vegetarians

 

 

 

 

Sulphuric veggies -onions, garlic, cauliflower…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fruits

Apples, bananas, plantains, avocado, grapes,  lemons, limes, watermelon, mango, pineapple, guava, mamey, tamarind, dates etc.

AIP Diet for Vegetarians

Fruit should be consumed in moderation so you aren’t flooding your system with sugar (albeit natural) and thereby increasing inflammation.

*Although bananas and plantains are the exceptions as they provide good starches and have beneficial probiotics. Many cultures eat bananas with every meal to aid digestion.

Oils

Coconut, Olive, Avocado oils are the best. Limit seed oils or use in moderation initially.

Herbs and Spices

This is a great way to add flavor and nutritious goodies. Parsley, oregano, thyme, Himalayan sea salt, saffron, sage, etc. Stay away from nightshade based spices. Black pepper is okay though.

AIP Diet for Vegetarians

While you are working on giving your gut and digestive areas a little extra love, stewed and cooked veggies are the way to go. They are easier to digest and will give your body a little break from digestively working over time.


AIP Diet for Vegetarian Must-Haves

It’s important to make sure you are getting the most out of your food. Certain vitamins are super important to your overall healing and while you may not want or be able to get them from meat or dairy sources, we can surely find you an adequate replacement and vegetable based source.

Amino Acids

As discussed above these are a game changer while following AIP. Luckily you can find amino acids in plant sources as well. Watercress tops the list with spirulina following but I would temporarily avoid spirulina so we can keep your system nice and relaxed. Pumpkin, leafy greens, hemp and chia seeds are also good sources.

Braggs also makes a coconut aminos all-purpose seasoning. You can definitely get at Whole Foods and some health food stores, or you can order online.

Omega 3 fatty acids

These are incredibly important to your gut healing! I get mine from fish sources, which you obviously won’t so here is where we enter another grey area when following the AIP diet for vegetarians. Even though traditional AIP says no seeds, we say seeds limit seeds initially, and then enjoy in moderation- you need your omega 3’s.

We want to focus on Omega 3’s and not 6’s. Omega 6’s can cause inflammation. The best vegetarian resource will be flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, mango (has more 3 than 6), and leafy greens.

*Seaweed has a substantial amount of omega’s but in my opinion, I would take a break from consuming because seaweed interacts with the glands.  Normally this can be good for thyroid health. However, right now while you are calming and rebalance your system and glands I would make sure to monitor your intake so you don’t get yourself out of whack by consuming too much.

Probiotics

Yes, there are vegetarian probiotics and they do the job! Any sort of fermented vegetable will work but if you want (and should) stay consistent go ahead and pick up probiotics at your local health food store.  I use MegaFood Mega Flora plus………………………….and I’m an immune system balancing fan.

Slippery Elm

I mean can I buy stock in Slippery Elm Bark? Slippery Elm Bark has a number of benefits and favorable effects but mostly in coating your digestive lining to prevent toxins from leaking out. I take this every day!

Slippery Elm

Cleansing Teas

For alopecia, I drank a ton of dandelion tea to help flush my system and aid my digestive health. My mother who had Psoriasis drank a lot of saffron tea which is great for any sort of skin health issues. It’s great for cleansing the digestion as well and support intestinal lining.


Success Stories:

I did this diet the traditional AIP way, see my journey in pictures here.

I found a few folks online who went the plant-based way and had success.

This wonderful guy, Nicolas Huart healed is alopecia areata on a plant based diet.

 

 

Venus Williams went vegan to assist healing her autoimmune condition as well. She’s not AIP based, but just to give you more info about the success of nonmeat autoimmune dieting options.

If you are thinking about eating meat again here are some community perspectives about folks who went back to meat for health reasons of their own. Again darlings, you have to do what’s right for you, your body, and your beliefs. No judgement coming from GreenBananaGirl:)


Follow What Makes Sense for YOU.

*Again please note this is not the traditional AIP diet but a way for vegetarians and vegans to use the principles of AIP to hopefully aid in their healing success.  This post is about making something accessible to you for your lifestyle choice. It’s about what works for you. I have not tried this specific variation ( I ate all the meats) so I cannot confirm nor deny the success rate, but I did find the gentleman above who had his own success (not necessarily following this exact modification).

When you understand the point of this diet is to calm the body and put it back in balance by giving it access to higher nutritious foods, it’s good news for vegetarians and vegans because that means a large part of this is centered around veggies.

Of course, you still need your protein sources so as I said pay very close attention to your body. Best to limit for the first month and then take stock going forward.

Keep me posted on your success in the comment section below so we can help other vegetarians and vegans who were looking for the same information you were looking for before you found GreenBananaGirl!


To read more about how you can be successful check out My No-Fail Tips for Being Successful On the AIP Diet.

Need a vegetarian AIP recipe to get you inspired? Check out Purple Nomato Cabbage Rolls. *Scroll to the bottom of the recipe post for the vegetarian option. 

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10 Comments

  • IceEmpress

    I lost my hair almost 15 years ago to Alopecia, but a doctor told me he thought mine was a severe adverse reaction to the Hep B vaccine series I got in college. I do not think I will ever get my hair, lashes or brows back but I do want to heal my gut and my body. Hair does not matter to me, but health does. Thanks for the informative post. It is often hard to find info on AID, specifically Alopecia.

    • greenbananagirl

      Hi!! Wow, usually Dr.’s don’t want to say any reaction is in relation toa vaccine:/…..I have spoken with some other people who have had similar instances in relation to their kids and it’s very scary:/ The way I try to understand it is through a traumatic event to the body or spirit which really can be a vaccine, an accident, a trigger, etc. I can absolutely understand your Dr.’s perspective. You said it, health is so important above everything else. All things come out of that centered understanding and action. I think it takes great courage to move attention from one thing to the other especially when we are living with a physical manifestation and say I’m going to concentrate on what I can aid right now:) Absolutely, I needed info when I first noticed my hair loss and I couldn’t find anything that felt substantial and spoke to me so I’m glad if this site can do any of those things:)

      • IceEmpress

        Yes, it was very odd. He asked the nurse to step out of the room and told me in private. He said that doctors who speak about vaccine injury have their careers ruined, so he did not want to go on record. This was after three years of all sorts of tests, biopsies and weird treatments. From that moment on I started to question the medical establishment when a doctor could not go on the record for fear of losing his job.

      • greenbananagirl

        Wow that is incredible. I can imagine, yes speaking out against or questioning something established can be really pitting yourself against a lot of “important” people. I would question too- I am really really lucky that my Mom raised me on homeopathy because I’ve been questioning since birth lol… I mean I can totally understand- when I speak to folks I try and make sure I am not being irresponsible in how I address possible triggers or ways or re-activating the body trauma- because everyone is different and for some a vaccine may not cause any issues and for others for a host of reasons it could. That’s not to say I am one way or the other- I just do a lot of observations and certain things in the medical community feel disjointed to me. I think health and healing is so personal which is why I just can’t imagine one thing works for all or that everyone has the same response to something. it doesn’t make something completely invalid but it also means that maybe someone’s body constitution needs something different. What a life experience you have had in regards to this… eye-opening for sure.

  • Adam Bell

    GBG, Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences. I thought I would share Professor Jelinek’s Overcoming MS diet/lifestyle which clearly has benefit for other autoimmune conditions in reducing inflammation. https://overcomingms.org/recovery-program/
    The core tenets of the OMS approach are:
    – Plant-based + some seafood
    – Omega 3 + Vitamin D + Vitamin B supplementation
    – Meditation
    – Exercise
    Whilst his studies and evidence are focused on MS, correspondence I have had with the Medical Team at OMS suggest such a lifestyle would benefit a wide range of autoimmune conditions including alopecia. (For the record, I have alopecia and Common Variable Immunodeficieny requiring lifelong immunoglobulin infusions). I’m about to embark on OMS and will keep you posted on how I travel.
    Take care and good health, Adam x

    • greenbananagirl

      Hi Adam!

      I’m sorry for the delay! I’ve been on a healing rejuvenation and hibernated a bit longer than expected. Absolutely, I think we all benefit from each other which is exactly how I found AIP as well. Thank you so much for sharing! I love finding new methods because it is just another wonderful way to identify the principles of healing and how they remain pretty much the same, with the “methods” changing to fit the person. I also totally agree with the Vitamin D and Omega 3:) On a desert island… I would bring these two… but I really wouldn’t need to because I would be getting it from the sun and eating fish all day haha! Yes please absolutely keep me posted! I also started AIP while I traveled and I was able to do it so I know you will too! Good health to you and talk soon indeed!

  • AA Newbie

    Thanks GreenBananaGirl! Your posts are always so inspiring, relatable, and informative! I was doing a 100% plant-based/vegan diet before and during the beginning of my alopecia but I switched back to eating organic grass-fed beef and bison (when I can afford it so not every day) and I invested in collagen powder (it was pricey but I think it was worth it for me and I put it in my daily AIP superfood whole food smoothie) but other than that I’m still plant-based so (no fish, chicken, or other animal products). Thanks for sharing this informative post! I agree, it’s def a process on what works best for each individual on how to get the most nutrient food that fits their with their unique body and values. Thank you again! <3 Oh and quick update about my alopecia patch–I have some baby hair regrowth all throughout the patch! Slowly but surely, I hope? I also have had a lot of thinning/hair loss throughout my scalp so I'm hoping that upping my red meat meat intake will help with that eventually…we shall see!

    • greenbananagirl

      Hi AA Newbie! That is so great to hear, that they are purposeful and helpful!! You said something so important about the collagen, ” it was worth it for you”.. YES! That is so amazing that you are listening to yourself and what works for you- for some it takes people a really really long time to get there! That’s also really inspiring and I think for other’s to see that even though you followed a different eating plan before you found something else that worked for you, in a way that you felt comfortable. I am not a vegetarian/vegan although I do eat moderate and of course high-quality meats, but I can imagine you must have quite a site down with yourself about working in different foods. Grass-fed beef is great and of course bison. I also am a major fan of lamb and the bone marrow from the bones:) I ate a ton of lamb the first go around! Yay baby hair growth!!! That’s great! That’s a major exciting win! Yes it takes time- remember in real life your hair only grows half a quarter of an inch a month so yes it sure will take time. If it is thinning it could be just part of that old initial hair loss, club hair group- so the shedding is actually part of the healing- it just doesn’t seem that way! Isn’t that JUST the case with life:/ I love your updates so ple
      ase do keep my posted!

  • Tokiko

    Love your posts so much, thank you. I’ve never had any digestive issues nor any allergies. I’m thinking of trying the elimination diet, anything to help my body battle against alopecia. When you said you had “no issues” introducing or consuming certain foods, what does that mean?. Would you have had symptoms to know your body wasn’t adjusting well to these particular foods. What kind of signs would your body be giving to tell you something? Thank you

    • greenbananagirl

      Hi Tokiko! The elimination diet definitely helped and I’m on my second round now for my last patch and seeing GREAT results- so clearly I’m a fan:) Yes so when I said I had no issues introducing foods the first round, I meant I didn’t have strong reactions in fact to anything I introduced. I was expecting to have a major allergy to some sort of food and I really didn’t. I am actually in the process of reintroducing foods again on my second round of AIP, and right now I am having a MAJOR issue! Yes if your body is not okay with a food you will feel it. My current symptoms are a super stuffy nose, major headache, my hair actually hurts (the follicles on the top of my hair feel like needles), the back of my throat is super sore- with little balls on my uvula (I noticed this a long time ago way before alopecia with an intolerance to too much milk), and I have major nasal drip going on in the back of my throat- gross. So for me, it’s pretty clear but for others, they will have different signs, maybe upset stomach, diarrhea, bloating etc. It’s normal and since this is my second round and the first round I was able to introduce things easily, this round I just went rogue haha! And it’s okay it doesn’t mean I will NEVER eat those things again- it just means my body is not yet ready for it in its current healing state and it needs more time with gentler nourishing foods. Keep me posted on your healing and all good thoughts your way!

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