So you’ve decided to adopt an autoimmune vegan diet to help manage your symptoms and improve your health. Kudos to you for making this commitment to your wellbeing. An autoimmune vegan diet can be challenging to follow, but also rewarding. The good news is, with some planning and the right mindset, you’ve got this.
These seven tips will help set you up for success on your new diet. Keep in mind, everyone’s body is different, so find what works for you. Be flexible, start slow, and make adjustments as needed. Most of all, be kind to yourself along the way. This is a journey, not a sprint. With the determination to feel your best, a willingness to learn and experiment, and a little patience, you’ll be thriving in no time on an autoimmune vegan diet.
So take a deep breath and dive in. A new way of eating—and improved health—awaits you. You’ve got the power to change your life for the better, one delicious vegan meal at a time. Now, on to the tips…
What Is an Autoimmune Vegan Diet?
An autoimmune vegan diet eliminates ingredients that may trigger an autoimmune response. The goal is to reduce inflammation in the body and promote gut health.
What can you eat?
Focus on whole foods like:
- Leafy greens (kale, spinach, Swiss chard)
- Cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts)
- Root vegetables (carrots, beets, turnips)
- Beans and legumes (chickpeas, lentils, peas)
- Gluten-free grains (quinoa, millet, buckwheat)
- Nuts and seeds
- Plant-based protein (tofu, tempeh)
- Healthy fats (olive oil, coconut oil, avocados)
What to avoid
Steer clear of:
- Gluten – found in wheat, barley and rye. Gluten can irritate the gut lining and trigger an autoimmune response in sensitive individuals.
- Dairy – can be inflammatory and may contain hormones, antibiotics and proteins that trigger a reaction.
- Eggs – contain proteins that may trigger an autoimmune response.
- Nightshade vegetables – tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and potatoes may exacerbate autoimmune symptoms in some people.
- Processed foods – tend to be high in sugar, salt, and artificial additives that promote inflammation.
- Soy – contains compounds called isoflavones that may disrupt hormone balance in large amounts. Choose non-GMO and organic tofu and tempeh in moderation.
Following an autoimmune vegan diet can help reduce flare-ups and allow the gut to heal. Be sure to also manage stress, get enough sleep, and stay hydrated for the best results. Making healthy lifestyle changes will have you feeling better in no time!
The Benefits of an Autoimmune Vegan Diet
An autoimmune vegan diet has some major benefits for your health and wellbeing.
By eliminating animal products like meat, dairy, and eggs, you significantly reduce inflammation in your body. Chronic inflammation is linked to autoimmune diseases and can worsen symptoms. A vegan diet full of whole plant foods is naturally anti-inflammatory.
Improved Gut Health
A vegan diet high in fiber and probiotics supports a healthy gut microbiome. Your gut bacteria influence immune function and gut permeability. Eating more whole grains, legumes, nuts, and fermented foods feeds the good bacteria in your gut. A balanced gut flora can help reduce autoimmune flare-ups.
Lower Disease Risk
An autoimmune vegan diet lowers your risk of other chronic diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. By avoiding saturated fat and cholesterol from animal sources, you improve blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. The high amounts of antioxidants and nutrients in plant foods also help prevent cell damage and provide protection.
You may find yourself with improved energy levels and vitality on an autoimmune vegan diet. Whole plant foods provide a steady source of fuel for your body and brain without the crashes that come from eating a lot of sugar and processed grains. Many people report feeling lighter, cleaner, and more awake when they make the switch to a vegan diet.
An autoimmune vegan diet can have significant benefits for managing symptoms and reducing disease risk. By focusing on anti-inflammatory whole foods, you give your body the tools it needs to function at its best. Make the change today – your health is worth it!
Foods to Eat on an Autoimmune Vegan Diet
An autoimmune vegan diet focuses on nourishing your body with whole plant foods that reduce inflammation and support your immune system. Here are some of the foods you should emphasize in your diet:
Fruits and Vegetables
Eat a colorful array of organic fruits and vegetables, which provide antioxidants and other beneficial plant compounds. Some great options include:
- Dark leafy greens like kale, spinach and Swiss chard. They’re high in vitamin C, folate and magnesium.
- Cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. They contain compounds like sulforaphane that helps fight inflammation.
- Berries, especially blueberries. Berries are high in anthocyanins which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
- Avocados – Creamy avocados are high in inflammation-fighting monounsaturated fats and glutathione, an important antioxidant for immune function.
Whole Grains and Legumes
Choose gluten-free whole grains like quinoa, millet, buckwheat and amaranth. Pair them with legumes like lentils, chickpeas and beans which are high in fiber, protein and various minerals. Some options include:
- Brown rice and black beans
- Quinoa and white beans
- Lentil soup or chili
Focus on anti-inflammatory fats like olive oil, coconut oil and flax oil. Add them to salads, smoothies or use for low-heat cooking. Walnuts, chia and hemp seeds also provide a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats.
Herbs and Spices
Use turmeric, ginger, garlic, basil, rosemary and oregano to boost flavor and nutrition. Turmeric and ginger in particular have potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
An autoimmune vegan diet centered around these nourishing whole foods can help manage inflammation, support your immune system and promote better health. Be sure to also stay hydrated, get enough rest and exercise, and avoid potential triggers like excess sugar or alcohol.
Foods to Avoid on an Autoimmune Vegan Diet
On an autoimmune vegan diet, there are certain foods you’ll want to avoid to reduce inflammation in your body. Some of these may surprise you, but cutting them out can make a big difference in how you feel.
Nightshades like tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and potatoes can trigger autoimmune flare-ups in some people. These veggies contain compounds called lectins that may irritate your gut lining and worsen leaky gut, a condition linked to autoimmunity. Try eliminating nightshades for a month and see if your symptoms improve.
Wheat and Gluten
Gluten triggers an autoimmune reaction in people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Even if you don’t have celiac disease, gluten may stress your immune system. Choose gluten-free grains like rice, quinoa, buckwheat, and oats instead of wheat. Look for gluten-free vegan products or make your own.
Too much sugar causes inflammation in the body and feeds the harmful bacteria in your gut. Limit sweets, fruit juice, and high-sugar processed foods. Use natural sweeteners in moderation, such as maple syrup, coconut sugar, medjool dates, or stevia.
While soy can be part of a balanced vegan diet, it may stimulate an autoimmune response in some. Avoid processed soy foods made with soy protein isolate like veggie burgers, meat alternatives, and protein powders. Choose organic edamame, tofu, and tempeh which are less processed. Or leave soy out altogether. There are plenty of other plant-based protein sources to choose from!
Refined vegetable oils like canola, corn, and soybean oil are highly processed and pro-inflammatory. Use unrefined oils instead, such as olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil. Avoid deep frying and opt for gentle cooking methods like steaming, sautéing, and baking.
Following an autoimmune protocol is challenging, but avoiding trigger foods and choosing whole, nourishing options can help reduce flare-ups and improve your health over the long run. Be patient through the transition—it can take time for your body and taste buds to adjust. But sticking with it will be worth it!
Sample Meal Plan for an Autoimmune Vegan Diet
An autoimmune vegan diet focuses on anti-inflammatory whole foods to help improve symptoms. Here’s a sample meal plan to get you started:
Start your day with a bowl of oatmeal topped with fresh or frozen berries, chopped nuts or seeds, and a splash of nut milk or a dairy-free milk like coconut or almond milk. You can also have a smoothie made with leafy greens, nut milk, berries, and a plant-based protein powder.
A Buddha bowl with quinoa or brown rice, beans like chickpeas or edamame, roasted or grilled veggies, and a nut-based dressing makes a perfect vegan lunch. You could also have a hearty salad with chickpeas, nuts, and a tahini dressing or a veggie-packed wrap.
Good snacks include fresh or dried fruit, raw veggies with hummus or guacamole, trail mix, and rice cakes or veggie chips with nut butter. Dried seaweed snacks, coconut yogurt with granola, and dark chocolate also make great autoimmune-friendly snacks.
For dinner, have a stir fry over rice noodles or zucchini noodles with tofu, bell peppers and broccoli. A veggie curry over rice or potatoes, bean-based chili or lentil soup also work well. Grilled portobello mushroom burger, sweet potato black bean enchiladas or cauliflower steaks are other delicious options.
Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and herbal tea. Limit caffeinated beverages like coffee to 1 cup per day. Unsweetened nut milks, coconut milk and fresh vegetable juices are also good choices. Avoid sugary beverages, alcohol and fruit juice.
Following an anti-inflammatory vegan diet with whole plant foods and limiting processed foods and added sugar can help reduce autoimmune symptoms and promote better health. Use this meal plan as a starting point and adjust based on your personal needs and tastes.
Lifestyle Tips for Managing Autoimmune Disease With Diet
Following an autoimmune protocol vegan diet requires some adjustments to your daily routine and lifestyle. Here are some tips to help you succeed:
Find Your Support System
Connecting with others following a similar diet can help keep you accountable and provide moral support. Look for online communities focused on autoimmune veganism or start your own local meetup group. Explain your diet to close friends and family and ask them for their encouragement and understanding. Having a strong support system in place will make the transition much easier.
Prepare Your Own Meals
Eating out at restaurants can be challenging when following such a restricted diet. Prepare most of your meals at home using whole, unprocessed ingredients that you know are safe for you. Buy in bulk when possible and do meal prep on days off to save time. Have snacks on hand in case of cravings or low blood sugar. With some practice, making your own meals can become second nature.
Chronic stress can exacerbate autoimmune flare-ups and symptoms. Engage in regular stress reduction techniques like yoga, meditation, journaling, or deep breathing. Getting enough sleep every night is also essential for stress relief and health. Aim for 7 to 9 hours of restful sleep per night to allow your body and mind to recover.
Limit Exposure to Toxins
Certain chemicals and pollutants in the environment can trigger an autoimmune response in sensitive individuals. Use natural and fragrance-free cleaning and personal care products when possible. ventilate and filter indoor air, especially if you live in a large city. Cigarette smoke, industrial pollution, and mold should also be avoided. Staying aware of potential toxins in your surroundings gives you more control over your exposure.
By making healthy lifestyle changes in addition to diet, you’ll give your autoimmune vegan plan the best chance of success. Be patient through challenges and setbacks, stay focused on your “why”, and keep making progress each and every day. You’ve got this!
Supplements That May Help With Autoimmune Disease
Following an autoimmune vegan diet often requires certain supplements to ensure you get all the nutrients you need. Here are some of the supplements that may help support your health:
Since B12 is mainly found in animal products, vegans are at risk of deficiency which can lead to anemia or nervous system damage. Take a B12 supplement of at least 250 mcg daily or 2000 mcg weekly. Look for methylcobalamin, the most absorbable form of B12.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3s are essential for reducing inflammation in the body. Vegan options include algae oil supplements or flax oil which contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) that your body converts to EPA and DHA. Aim for 1000 to 2000 mg of ALA daily. For direct EPA and DHA, take an algae oil supplement with at least 200-500 mg per day.
Vitamin D helps support immune health and bone density. Since few foods contain vitamin D, vegans are prone to deficiency. Take a vegan vitamin D2 or D3 supplement of 600 to 1000 IU daily. For those deficient, higher doses may be needed to restore levels. Have your blood levels checked regularly.
Zinc aids immune function and wound healing. Vegan sources include nuts, seeds, beans, and grains, but absorption can be an issue. A supplement of 8 to 11 mg per day may help prevent a deficiency. Look for zinc picolinate or zinc citrate which have better absorption.
Probiotics introduce good bacteria to support gut and overall health. Choose a vegan probiotic with at least 10 to 20 billion CFUs and multiple strains of bacteria, especially Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. Aim for a daily supplement with around 15 to 30 billion CFUs for therapeutic benefits.
Supplements can be part of a balanced vegan diet to promote health and reduce disease risk. However, you should always check with your doctor before starting any new supplement regimen, especially if you are on any medications. The right supplements for you will depend on your unique health conditions and needs.
Finding Support for Following an Autoimmune Vegan Diet
Following an autoimmune vegan diet can be challenging, but finding support will help make it sustainable in the long run. Here are some tips to help you stay on track:
Connect with others
Seek out online communities of others following an autoimmune vegan diet. Join Facebook groups or follow influencers on Instagram for recipe ideas, lifestyle tips, and motivation. Connecting with like-minded people can help combat feelings of isolation and provide accountability.
Find an accountability partner
Ask a friend or family member to check-in on your progress and provide encouragement. Let them know your goals and challenges so they can offer specific support. Having someone to report to regularly can strengthen your commitment to the diet plan.
Work with a dietitian
A registered dietitian who specializes in plant-based and autoimmune diets can give you personalized guidance. They can review your diet, supplement regimen and lifestyle to make sure all your nutritional needs are met and your conditions are properly managed. Telehealth options make it easy to connect with dietitians remotely.
Stay up to date with new research
New studies on managing autoimmune disease and vegan nutrition are published frequently. Follow reputable organizations like Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Autoimmune Wellness, and NutritionFacts.org to stay up to date with the latest findings. The more you know about how diet impacts your health, the more motivated you’ll be to stick to the plan.
Meal prep and plan ahead
Planning and preparing meals ahead of time is key to success on any diet, especially a restricted one. Sit down each week and map out your meals, snacks, and grocery list. Cook larger batches of staples like grains, beans, and roasted vegetables that you can use in multiple dishes. Having healthy, autoimmune-friendly options on hand will prevent you from making poor food choices when you’re hungry.
Staying committed to an autoimmune vegan diet is challenging, but surrounding yourself with support can help make it a sustainable lifelong change. Connecting with others, finding accountability, working with a dietitian and staying up to date with the latest research will set you up for success in managing your condition through diet and nutrition.
Autoimmune Vegan Diet FAQs: Common Questions Answered
So you’ve decided to try an autoimmune vegan diet. That’s great news for your health and the planet! An autoimmune vegan diet eliminates all animal products and focuses on whole, unprocessed plant-based foods that are anti-inflammatory and healing. Here are some common questions about following an autoimmune vegan diet:
What can I eat?
The good news is there are tons of delicious foods you can eat! Focus on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Some options include:
•Leafy green veggies like kale, spinach and Swiss chard
•Cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts
•Starchy veggies like sweet potatoes, butternut squash and beets
•Whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, millet and buckwheat
•Legumes like chickpeas, lentils, beans and peas
•Nuts and seeds such as almonds, walnuts, chia seeds and hemp seeds
•Fruits especially berries, citrus and melons
What should I avoid?
Avoid all animal products including:
•Meat such as beef, chicken, pork and fish
•Eggs and dairy like milk, cheese, butter and yogurt
•Honey and other bee products
You should also avoid highly processed vegan foods with lots of sugar, salt, oil and preservatives which can trigger inflammation.
What about protein?
You can get plenty of protein from plant-based sources. Aim for 3-5 servings of legumes, nuts, and seeds per day. Some examples:
•1/2 cup of chickpeas has 10g of protein
•1/2 cup of lentils has 18g of protein
•2 tbsp of almond butter has 8g of protein
•1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds has 9g of protein
Do I need supplements?
You may want to consider supplements to address any potential deficiencies. Key supplements include:
•Vitamin B12 – Essential for blood and nerve health. Found primarily in animal foods so a supplement is recommended.
•Omega-3 fatty acids – Important for reducing inflammation. Consider an algal oil supplement.
•Vitamin D – Important for immune function and bone health. Many people are deficient regardless of diet.
•Zinc – Important for immune health and wound healing. Found in nuts, seeds, legumes but a supplement may be needed.
•Iron – Important for blood health and oxygen transport. Found in beans, lentils and leafy greens but a supplement may be required for some.
Check with your doctor to determine if any supplements are right for you based on your unique needs and
Okay, you’ve made it to the end here – congrats! Following an autoimmune vegan diet may seem challenging, but by starting with small changes and focusing on nutrient-dense whole foods, you’ve got this. Remember, every little bit helps, so stick with it and be kind to yourself along the way. You deserve to feel your best, and this diet can help reduce inflammation in your body and provide you with more energy and vibrancy. Staying committed will get easier over time as your tastes adapt and it becomes second nature. Keep experimenting in the kitchen, connect with your community for support, and make self-care a priority. You’ve got the power to heal yourself from within, so keep up the great work! The benefits of this diet are so worth it. Stay positive and keep moving forward – you’ve got this!