AIP is a Plant-Based Protocol

This post contains affiliate links. Click here to see what that means!

In order to provide the free resources here on the Autoimmune Wellness website and social media channels, we may accept a commission or other support for our endorsement, recommendation, or link to a product or service in this post.

That being said, we only promote authors, products, and services that we use ourselves and wholeheartedly stand by. To learn more about how we earn money here on Autoimmune Wellness, head on over to our Promotional Policy.

Today we are going to tackle one of the biggest misconceptions about the Autoimmune Protocol — that it is a way of eating that relies primarily on meat and animal products at the expense of vegetables (not true!). A part of this misconception has been carried over from the AIP movement’s connection to the Paleo movement. In fact, although there are various ways of implementing the Autoimmune Protocol, there has always been consensus in our community that AIP is a way of eating that forms its foundation on eating plant foods in the form of vegetables. In other words, it is in fact a plant-based protocol.

In today’s article, I’m going to clarify the vegetable vs. meat recommendations on the Autoimmune Protocol and share my perspective as someone who followed a vegan diet for 10 years.

I firmly believe that high-quality and well-sourced meat and seafood are not only excellent sources of nutrients (especially for someone in the healing process), but supporting regenerative agriculture is also a key part of addressing our climate crisis (yes, you heard that right!). Getting into this point is beyond the scope of this article, but if you’d like to learn more I recommend checking out the work of Diana Rogers, RD and her new book and documentary on this topic, Sacred Cow.

My history as a vegan

I have a long history with plant-based diets, as I was vegan (someone who does not eat any animal products) for some of my teen years and most of my 20s. While I felt great when I initially implemented this way of eating, nearly 10 years later and having been newly diagnosed with two autoimmune diseases at the age of 26 (Hashimoto’s and celiac), I found myself in an incredibly deep health crisis of which nutrient deficiencies had a major role to play. (You can read more about my story here and listen to this podcast episode to get the full picture of what I experienced). At my rock bottom I was bedridden and unable to work, and had no treatment options for my new diagnoses.

For most of my youth I had expected to be healthy since I ate a whole-foods, plant-based diet consisting primarily of home-cooked meals. When I asked my doctors if my diet could be playing a role in my health conditions, they told me I was eating the healthiest diet there was and that there was no connection. Despite this advice, deep down, I knew that there was a possibility that eating animal foods once again would make me feel better, and it turns out, I was right. After a slow transition to eating animal foods and implementing the elimination phase of AIP, I was able to regain my health and reverse those deep-seated nutrient deficiencies I developed both due to my autoimmune conditions and my 10-year vegan diet.


One of the first things I noticed in my dietary shift from vegan to AIP was that I was now eating more vegetables in the elimination phase of AIP than I had on my previous vegan diet. A LOT more. I noticed one of my friends, Stacy Toth of Real Life Paleo, who also had a history of eating a vegan diet, using the hashtag #morevegetablesthanavegetarian on her meal photos on Instagram and I started thinking about how interesting it was that I was no longer eating a vegan diet, but I was eating WAY more vegetables.

How could that be? Well, even on my previous whole-food based vegan diet, I was eating a lot of grains and legumes. Even when I removed gluten after being diagnosed with celiac disease, I was eating lots of gluten-free, vegan grains and legumes like quinoa, rice, corn, lentils, black beans, and more. These ingredients formed the base of my diet–not vegetables. When I transitioned to AIP, this was flipped as I was now consuming primarily vegetables with added animal products. 

AIP’s plant-based roots

The researchers who are responsible for forming the Autoimmune Protocol into what it is known as today have advocated for a high vegetable intake from the very beginning.

Dr. Sarah Ballantyne has been advocating for eating over 8 servings of fruits and vegetables per day since before her ground-breaking guide to AIP, The Paleo Approach, came out in 2014. Dr. Terry Wahls, whose book is an AIP must-have, has advocated for at least nine cups of fruits and vegetables per day–three cups leafy green vegetables, three cups sulfur-rich vegetables, and three cups colorful fruits and vegetables, since her book was launched in 2013. That is a LOT of vegetables, friends!

If you are following these expert recommendations, there isn’t much space left on your plate for anything BUT vegetables. And that is the point!

How much meat should I eat on AIP?

Now you are probably asking the big question–how much meat should I eat on AIP? 

First, the Autoimmune Protocol is an incredibly flexible template, and the amount of animal foods you need to thrive is going to be dependent on your personal history, lifestyle, and goals.

Here are some situations where eating more meat might be helpful:

  • When you are looking to reverse long-standing nutrient deficiencies. Especially when those nutrients are plentiful in animal foods – like iron, zinc, and b12.
  • When you have a higher protein need. This may apply to athletes and pregnant women.
  • When you are intolerant to many vegetables. This may be due to a gut infection that needs to be treated by a medical provider (like FODMAPs in the case of SIBO), or due to a physical alteration in your GI tract (such as raw or high-fiber foods in the case of a stricture).
  • When you have issues with blood sugar regulation. Those who have a history of eating a higher-carbohydrate, processed-food diet may want to up protein intake for a time while their blood-sugar regulation improves.

Here are some situations where eating less meat might be helpful:

  • When your food budget doesn’t allow for a lot of high-quality animal foods. In this case, prioritizing your dollars on the most nutrient-dense, high-quality options (like organ meats) can be helpful for meeting your nutrient needs. 
  • When you have a health issue that requires you to eat less protein. This isn’t super common, but there are some conditions (like kidney disease) where your medical providers may advise you to reduce your protein intake. 
  • When you want to reduce your reliance on animal protein for ethical reasons. This might look like prioritizing the types and quality of animal protein to easily meet your nutrient needs, without consuming much excess.

For most people starting the Autoimmune Protocol, aiming for 15-20% of calories as protein is a good place to start. Depending on your size and intake, this is in the range of 6-12 ounces of protein per day, and you can increase or decrease from there depending on your needs.

Dr. Sarah Ballantyne uses a visual recommendation for protein, aiming for ⅔-¾ of your plate as vegetables, and ⅓-¼ animal foods or seafood. 

Personally, I eat around 8 ounces of protein per day, around 3-4 ounces at breakfast and 4-5 ounces at dinner. I typically have a vegetarian meal (a big salad!) for lunch. In the early days of healing, I consumed much more protein, around 8-16 ounces per day, as I was reversing many nutrient deficiencies and had serious issues with blood sugar regulation. As my health improved I found that I continued to experience benefits even when I decreased the amount of protein I was eating in my diet, and I could easily go between meals without snacking.

If you are looking for another resource for determining the makeup of your AIP template, Eileen Laird of Phoenix Helix has an AIP Food Pyramid you may find helpful.

Can I try AIP as a vegan or plant-based eater?

Despite its heavy reliance on vegetables, AIP is not a vegetarian or vegan protocol, and it is unsafe to implement it as so.

The elimination phase of AIP removes grains, legumes, dairy, nuts, seeds, and eggs, which still leaves room for a person to get all of the nutrients they need (and then some!) from plant, animal, and seafoods. This same elimination phase, implemented to also remove all animal and seafoods becomes unsafe when there are no other good sources of protein and specific nutrients (like iron and B12) in the diet.

To implement AIP safely without eating animal foods, you need to be able to eat enough seafood to meet your minimum protein and nutrient needs. I’ve seen this approach work well for some people, as well as others who are willing to eat some poultry, but avoid red meat. If you can’t make this happen and still want to try an elimination diet, I recommend working with a nutrition professional to help guide you in a customized template that will be safe for you to implement.

A note on ketogenic and carnivore diets

I also want to mention two layers some folks are commonly curious about: ketogenic and carnivore.

Ketogenic diets are typically low in vegetables but can include some non-starchy vegetables. They avoid all starchy vegetables and most fruits. There is some research that a ketogenic approach can be helpful specifically in neurological recovery or brain injuries, but in general, they are not recommended for those with autoimmune disease. Dr. Sarah Ballantyne does a great job outlining the downsides (mostly the negative impact on the microbiome) in this blog post. If you decide to try a ketogenic approach within the framework of AIP, I recommend making sure you focus on lots of those non-starchy vegetables and healthy fats to avoid overeating meat.

A carnivore diet is one where a person is exclusively eating meat and no plant foods. I definitely think this is a dangerous approach that is not supportive of the microbiome, not to mention completely misses the vegetable-forward side of AIP that is so powerful in cultivating health–lots of vitamins and minerals, various types of fiber to support gut health, not to mention all of those incredible antioxidants. If you decide to embark on this approach, proceed with caution.

Always… think about nutrient density!

There is also a discussion to be had about quality as it relates to nutrient density. Animal foods are not equal when it comes to the nutrients they contain, and when you make an effort to get the most high-quality and nutrient-dense ingredients, that means that you can eat less animal foods in general and still eat a diet that deeply supports your healing process.

Personally, this is the approach I take, as I don’t like to consume any more animal foods than are necessary. I prioritize my food budget to include wild-caught, fatty fish, shellfish, grass-fed and pastured meat, and organ meats. Because some of these foods are exceptionally nutrient dense (like the oily fish, shellfish, and organ meats) and I make a point to include them in my diet often, I can get away with eating less animal foods overall.

Some of you may not resonate with this piece, but having been vegan for so long I struggled a lot with including animal foods in my diet again. Not only have I come to realize that not all meat is created equal, but also that I don’t need to be wasteful in my consumption of it. By prioritizing my purchases with local farmers who treat their animals well (or raising our own, which my family is experimenting with), not only do I get the benefit of knowing where the meat came from, but I view it with gratitude that it is the best medicine I can take.

You might be thinking… well, can’t I just get those nutrients from supplements? My experience hasn’t been great there. If you are looking to learn more about this, I recommend checking out my article five reasons why you should get your nutrition from real food before supplements.


Tell me in the comments: What has your experience been at shifting your diet to the AIP template? Do you find you eat more vegetables now than you did before? Have you tried different amounts of protein intake in your approach? I’d love to know what works for you! 


Further reading:

About Mickey Trescott

Mickey Trescott is a co-founder here at Autoimmune Wellness and a co-teacher of AIP Certified Coach. After recovering from her own struggle with both Celiac and Hashimoto’s disease, adrenal fatigue, and multiple vitamin deficiencies, Mickey started to write about her experience to share with others and help them realize they are not alone in their struggles. She has a Master's degree in Human Nutrition and Functional Nutrition, and is the author of three best-selling books--The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook, The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook, and The Nutrient-Dense Kitchen. You can watch her AIP cooking demos by following her on Instagram.


  • Shannon Klein says

    I didn’t like the lead “plant based” since I came to AIP needing to heal from (briefly) trying to fix my underlying issues with vegetarianism. But everything you say is true. I did do pretty high protein and low starch veg to start due to horrible BS control (along with celiacs dx & a.i. skin conditions). And now that I’ve had years of healing and three pregnancies I do see the protein intake beginning to taper a bit.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Shannon! Sorry you didn’t love the title, but I am trying to get folks attention with this. It is a huge misconception that AIP is a meat-heavy diet. Wishing you well!

  • Maggie says

    Thank you for the reminder that AIP truly is a plant-centric eating protocol. It’s too easy to fall back on the
    “big meat, small veggie” standard of eating – especially when that was my way of eating for decades. I’m feeling refocused and grateful for this website!

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Thanks for sharing Maggie! I’m happy it resonated with you.

  • Kim Thomas says

    I definitely eat far less meat than I used to with the SAD, and a lot more vegetables than when I was mostly vegetarian. Eating a grain/legume filled vegetarian diet exacerbated my IBD and led to dangerous nutrient malabsorption.
    I love the visual image of the 3/4 vegetable plate, as counting serving sizes can be complicated without weighing everything. I also credit AIP for introducing me to regenerative agriculture and much healthier, humane protein. I no longer feel guilt for eating meat, just thanks for the animal for supporting my health.
    It’s a shame that the term “plant-based” is now the label for fake meat filled with additives and soy.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      100% agree Kim! Thanks for sharing your perspective and experience.

  • Mahala Mazerov says

    If only AIP recipes and cookbooks, including yours, would provide evidence of being plant-based. Even the “vegetable” recipes posted on your site often contain meat. It’s not that I don’t know how to make something and simply not include the bacon. It’s about possibility and education. Autoimmune Wellness has done such groundbreaking work and offered so much good. But until I see your words reflected in more fully plant based recipes it feels like capitalizing on a buzz phrase more than walking the talk. I genuinely appreciate all you do and would love to see you lead the way for the AIP community on this.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Mahala – what evidence do you need? In my cookbooks, almost all of the vegetable recipes don’t use animal products. This translates to about 1/3 of them being fully vegan. These days I focus a lot on one-pot meals with a small portion of meat and a hefty serving of veggies, because that is the most practical for most people, but if you look at my books and recipes you’ll see tons of veggies. 😉

      • Kelly says

        I agree with Mahala. Since people cannot do beans for protein (or other plant protein sources) on AIP, it seems that there is meat protein at most meals.

        • Ariane says

          Plant based means plant heavy as in it makes up the bulk, not animal free. You already got the fulcrum of this debate. If you are fully on the aip protocol without reintroduction, you will need animal protein to cover your daily need of iron, zinc and protein, but not nearly as much as many seam to think and does not change, that the main bulk is still made up out of leafy greens and root vegetables.
          A “fully plant based” which what they probably mean vegan aip diet is impossible!!! But that does not change that one can in fact cover as much as one possibly can with plant based protein, making it still a plant based diet.
          Having a portion of between 70 and 100g (organ) meat as well as fish or seafood a day is not that much and all dominating as you make it sound against 5 times the amount plants on your plate.

  • sheila says

    not a single plant based group i have ever been in would agree that plant based allows animal foods.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Sheila – why do they use the term “plant-based” then? I would ask, what are the foods that are not on the “base”? I think it would be more accurate for them to use the terms vegan or vegetarian, which specifically describe diets that exclude animal foods.

      • Tammie says

        I think what they mean is there are no legumes, beans, tofu, tempeh, nuts and seeds, nut butters, whole grains like oats, quinoa, brown rice – which are all so important for gut healing. Which then means its basically Paleo. I am also confused on this too. Why title it plant based if it isn’t. Plant based means your diet consists of whole plant based foods. 80-90% of the time.

  • Laurie says

    I definitely eat way more veggies than before starting this journey and I truly love it. I feel good when I eat meat or fish at each meal. I sometimes worry that it’s too much meat…and I also worry when I don’t have meat or fish on hand 🙂

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Laurie! If you feel good eating animal foods at each meal, but are worried about the quantity, I would suggest simply trying smaller portions of meat to see how that goes for you. I did notice that in the early stages of healing, when I was recovering from many years of eating vegan, that I needed more meat to feel satiated and to help reverse those nutrient deficiencies. Over time, I noticed I was able to maintain stable blood sugar without eating meat at every meal, and could easily go a meal or two without any. Just make sure you are including plenty of healthy fats! Good luck!

  • Lily says

    Hi Mickey, I’m taking a lot of supplements at the moment to strengthen my immune system. I’m worried about bone density – how do I get enough calcium on an AIP diet without supplementation? Many thanks 🙂

  • PM says

    Really appreciate this article! When I first tried AIP about 4.5 years ago I completely missed that it is a plant-based protocol, and was eating way too much meat. I finally had the “a-ha” moment when you and Angie gave a live lecture at Mission Heirloom and called out that AIP is not a meat-heavy diet! After that point I significantly increased my veggie intake (and organ meat intake, since I’d been avoiding that altogether), and got the healing I had been looking for. Have been in remission from Crohn’s ever since. 🙂 It’s fascinating now, looking back, when I remember how the GI who diagnosed me said I should decrease vegetable consumption. Thank goodness I found AIP (and a different GI doc)!

    • Angie Alt says

      PM, we are so happy to hear that being at our talk helped you put the pieces in place & lead to so much healing!

    • Mickey Trescott says

      PM – wow! I am so happy that point hit home for you, and that you experienced so much success implementing a more veggie-centric diet! Thanks for sharing!

  • Kim says

    Thanks for another great article! I have been on AIP since August 2019. I have always enjoyed a wide variety of vegetables so it is not a problem for me to eat 9+ cups per day. But since cutting out all grains and nut butters I am always hungry, so I tend to eat too much meat. My total cholesterol has gone way up, and even though my HDL is also very high, the total number (260) is still concerning to me and my doctor. She wants me to switch to a metabolic diet, which would allow some grains, nuts, etc. I am hesitant to do so but I have to get more calories somewhere!

  • Candace says

    I was diagnosed with Hashimotos about 2.5 years ago and have been eating primarily vegan. My biggest struggle has been brittle hair and hair loss. Even after balancing hormones. I’m starting to think not including animal products has caused my hair condition to worsen. I’ve recently started incorporating some animal protein back. Have you seen this improve in people adopting the AIP?

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Candace! Like I say in the post above, I was vegan for 10 years before I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and decided to try AIP, and I noticed a HUGE difference in my hair when I made the switch. In fact, a few months after my dietary transition I had so much new hair growth that it looked like I had bangs when I pulled my long hair back – my initial regrowth was all the same length. I definitely think there is a big connection between nutrient density, hormones, and hair growth/texture. I hope you start noticing some good changes soon!

    • Lakshmi says

      Could you advice on the best way someone who’s been vegetarian all their life could start incorporating meat on AIP?Its extremely hard to do ! Would bone broth suffice to start with?

      • Mickey Trescott says

        Hi Lakshimi! I was vegan for almost 10 years and I transitioned very slowly. Broth is a great start, but it may need to be purchased pre-made (Boneafide Provisions and Bare Bones are good quality store brands) as the cooking can be smelly and off-putting to those who haven’t eaten or cooked meat in a long time. I actually started with whitefish (less fishy taste) and scrambled eggs (not AIP), cooked in a lot of vegetables and with lots of herbs/flavors to mask the taste. Once I got used to that, I graduated to small amounts of ground meat (like lamb) mixed in with cooked vegetables.

      • annupamaa says

        Ditto @Lakshmi. I’m born vegetarian and cannot eat any animal products,like meat , eggs etc …will AIP work for people like me ???

        • Mickey Trescott says

          Hi Annupamaa! I understand there are some strict vegetarians out there, and I would advise you not to try AIP additionally removing meat as it is nutritionally not safe. My recommendation is to work with a practitioner who specializes in elimination diets for vegetarians to help troubleshoot your food sensitivities in a nutritionally balanced way. Good luck!

  • LeeAnn Ruth says

    I have had time during this break at home to listen to your podcasts and research the AIP. I have the same autoimmune issues you do. I had a colonoscopy this year and the dr told me I had autoimmune issues. In the past my endo said there was no connection with gluten. This was 10 years ago. I restricted gluten and my antibodies dropped. I knew there had to be a connection. I have worked with fitness trainers and used their diets and saw limited results. After trying the AIP way I have definitely seen a difference in the way I feel. In my early 20’s I had a dr tell me I had something autoimmune going on but we never found out what it was. I ran long distances and taught aerobics classes. I ate when I was hungry. I focused on eating vegetables and fruits mostly. I ate some meat. I thought my eating patterns were the cause of my thyroidisitis. People would always say you need to eat 3 meals a day or 6 small meals. I have found the more I eat the worse I feel. Now that I am using the AIP I feel it is definitely for me. It amazes me that eliminating the nightshades, daily and rice and oatmeal(which I ate a lot of with the trainers) has made the difference. Thank you for your work.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi LeAnn! Thanks for being here and sharing your story. Wishing you continued wellness on your journey.

  • Domonique Christian says

    This is good to know. I have RA and have found that red meat flares me up big time. I was hoping that the AIP protocol (which I currently follow) would still be doable without the red meat and more fish. 🙂

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Domonique, yes, you can absolutely do AIP without red meat and a lot of seafood. You are actually likely to be a lot higher in those anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats that way! I would just be sure you are eating some shellfish to keep your iron and zinc up. Good luck!

  • Janel says

    Hi, can you please change the title of this blog post? It’s misleading and comes up at the 3rd result when searching for “vegetarian AIP” and I believe this is harmful. You seem to encourage and insist people they are unable to heal while being vegetarian. You could at least point to other medically researched sources on vegetarian sources of protein or to doctors and dieticians that actually provide support for this. This is more anti-carb than pro-nutrition. I encourage all vegetarians to not feel defeat in your search for wellness and to read Dr. Michael Greger or Dr. Arem’s, Thyroid Solution.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Janel! I titled this post specifically to caution those away from doing a vegetarian AIP, looks like I am doing my job! Vegan AIP or vegetarian AIP is NOT safe or advised. I understand wanting to do an elimination diet as a vegetarian or vegan, but it is not safe to follow the specific guidelines of AIP as such.

    • Ariane says

      If you could show me the numbers for how you make aip without animal protein work, I would be very happy, since I found absolutly no way to get enough iron, zinc and protein etc.
      The point made is not, that you can not heal on a vegetarian diet, the point is you can’t heal on it when you react badly to its sources or protein, zink and iron… Cause news flash, you can neither heal in malnutrition nor while feeding chronic inflammation. If you do not need aip, since you do great on legumes for example, wonderful, I am happy for you. But the restrictions between aip and a meat free diet eliminate to many foods together to prevent malnutrition. If a clean vegan diet does all you need, that’s amazing, but since I despite my love for legumes, nuts and seeds can only consume them in very small portions… I would starve myself…….
      The point of aip is not to say vegan is is bad, it’s all about finding your very personal foodintolerances and reincorporating everything you found to be safe back into your diet. You you do well on legumes, go for it! Reduce animal produce as much as safely possible but keep your micronutrients in mind!
      Aip says nothing against vegetarianism or vegan is in itself, it only argues against combining two extreamly restrictive diets that together eliminate all relevant sources for certain nutrients! Why is that so hard to comprehend?
      You know cronometer or a similar app? Play around with it a bit and try to find a realistic day of meals that gets you everything you need while following all aip restrictions and omit meat. Keep in mind, that many with autoimmune conditions have higher needs in zinc and iron….. If you find anything that works I would be elated since I tried a lot and found nothing… If you have more food intolerances then being able to be vegan is a privilege

  • Very interesting.

  • Niki says

    Thank you for sharing your personal story and nutritional evolution. I am a vegetarian of 30 years with lupus and other autoimmune issues. I struggle with the idea that meat is required for me to heal from the disease process. I am a vegetarian for ethical/compassion reasons and eating meat is a hard pill to swallow! Reading your personal story was very helpful in my own evaluation of nutrition and the implications of a vegetarian diet. Thank you!

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hey Nikki! Thanks for taking the time to read my article. I really know how you feel. Wishing you luck on your journey.

  • Alycia says

    I’ve been a vegetarian for 25 years, and that shift just kind of happened organically, not by decision or restriction. I have already tried to start incorporating light fish and salmon as I battle with Hashimoto’s. And it’s gone surprisingly well, if I keep distracted from what I’m eating.
    But, I truly do not understand how you ex-veggies and vegans “gradually ease” yourselves into being carnivorous. I’m sorry- if I have to hear that it’s easy to start crossing over with organ meats one more time, I’m going to have a stroke. Better ethics now or not, the thought of it being a sweet little slide into meat-eating with some animal’s liver is bananas to me. And no, this does not indicate that I don’t really want to get better, as I’ve been accused of often. I just can’t wrap my head around this seamless shift that keeps being described to me. I would have a breakdown if made to eat an animal’s internal organs. Period.
    There has to be an easier method. I’ve just purchased gelatin to mix with my collagen, and I can handle that. Thank you and sorry to be meat-snippy!

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hey Alycia! Thanks for your comment. I’m sorry if anywhere it seems like my transition to eating meat was a “seamless slide” – in reality it was anything but. It took about 6 months for me to make the full transition. I haven’t written about it in-depth because it was so difficult and emotional. For example, for the first few months, I had to leave the house while my husband cooked a tiny portion of ground meat and “hid” it in piles of vegetables, which I ate through tears. I’m not going to lie though, after being bedridden, freezing, and exhausted for months the warmth and energy I felt after eating red meat specifically was enough to motivate me to continue on that path. The benefits kept growing and over a period of months I came to terms with everything. I apologize if I made it sound quick or easy – having been a strict vegan for 10 years, it was anything but.

      Also, one thing I came to think of a little differently was that even though eating muscle meat (and even white muscle meat like chicken) seemed “easier,” it was actually the least productive for me in my quest to get nutrients and heal my body. Even though red meat and organs specifically seemed “grosser” than say a chicken breast, they were still from an animal, and contained sometimes 10-15x the nutrient-density per ounce. I started to see the “odd bits” like liver, bones, etc. as actually essential because they were both giving me a ton of the nutrients I needed for the least amount of animal consumption.

      I understand this is a very personal journey and for me, writing about it 8 years later is much easier because I’ve reframed a lot of how I think about eating meat ethically, sustainably, and from a nutrient-density perspective. Don’t feel bad for needing to take it slow – wishing you the best wherever your journey takes you!

  • Angel says

    I came across your page when I was researching on converting from Whole plant Based to adding animal meat marginally.
    I became whole plant based (no meat, eggs, cheese, dairy or oils), when I was struggling with mysterious weight gain. ( I was athletic and worked out 6 days a week for a couple hours each day), but my weight continue to climb.
    I tried everything to heal my body, I spent a lot of time in at various Endo.’s offices, that ignored my symptoms, and tried to accuse me of over eating. Being an athlete, diets are a very intricate part of training. I could calculate my diet down to the microgram. When I felt defeated, I learned about a high starch whole plant diet, and although I wasn’t sure if it was healing my body, it did stop the weight gain. I have been Whole plant based for two years, when I finally found a doctor who tested me for Hashimoto Thyroiditis. Sure enough, the tests came back positive for the autoimmune. I read how good the WPB diet was supposed to be for this autoimmune, until recently, when I went to donate blood, and was told I was anemic! I had noticed six months prior, that my nails all were severely rigged that the start to split up towards the cuticle. My body has been telling me I was seriously lacking something.
    After two solid years of 100% WPB, I couldn’t resist a nonstop craving for pork chops. After the nurse telling me I was anemic, my hair brittle and breaking, my nails splitting up to the bed, I started looking into reincorporating meat (even if nominal), back into my diet. That’s when I found this page. It’s good to know I’m not crazy. After eating those pork chops I was wrought with terrible guilt, not for social reasons, but because I was lead to believe that meat causes more autoimmune issues. I am planning on added very low amounts of animal meat to help elevate my iron levels. I already suppliment with B12, but it’s not enough. I haven’t worked out the specifics, until I read more about AIP.
    Even so, I’m grateful for write ups like this to help people like me understand how nutrition plays a role in our health.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hey Angel! Thank you for sharing your story here. I’m sorry you are dealing with some severe nutritional deficiencies from a long-term, plant-based way of eating, I found myself in a similar boat after 10 years of veganism. I hope that some of the discussions above are useful to you as you navigate a way of eating that supports your best health. -M

  • Rowena says

    Is this diet suitable when you are in the midst of an IBD flare or are there substitutions or a different diet to get through the flare and then go back on this diet long term? I have heard that meat can be difficult to digest especially in the midst of a flare.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Rowena! It is best to check with your doctor or other healthcare provider to see if this way of eating is suitable for a flare. It really depends on your personal health history and situation. I know a lot of IBDers who make modifications regarding fiber intake when they are flaring. Hoping you feel better soon!

  • L says

    Wonderful article! I especially like how pleasantly worded it was even when cautioning against certain dietary practices. I’m a completely unapologetic omnivore and I love eating meat (especially the odd bits!), but I’ve been trying for several years to find vegetarian aip recipes because it’s hard to eat them if you can’t fix them! Plus I have two vegan roommates and it would be nice to share a meal with then every once in a while. But unfortunately all I’ve found is people being very antagonistic and screaming about how aip isn’t vegetarian or vegan. It’s enough to make me scream, like I eff’n know people! That’s not the point! I just want some vegetarian recipes in addition!

    Sorry, lol. Anyway, I loved this article!

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi L! Thanks for the thoughts on the article, and I’m so happy that this helped you see the common ground between AIP and vegan/vegetarian diets. With the high plant-based nature of AIP I hope you are able to find some great recipes that satisfy both diets (they are out there!).

  • Lisa Roth says

    Hi there,

    I have been vegan for 5 years for autoimmune issues (hidradenitis suppurativa) but I also have been looking to add animal products back into my diet as I’ve been told high zinc and b12 is best for helping this disease. I cannot get passed the mental aspect of actually eating meat. I am allergic to eggs and I also am repulsed by the thought of fish. Do you have any tips on how you transitioned into eating meat again?

    Thank you

  • Ketan says

    Just wondering…when the AIP makes use of elimination of foods like nuts, seeds, legumes, pulses…does one ever get to reintroduce these foods? I know it’s essential during the elimination phase but for how long? Or is it that once you eliminate these foods you don’t really go back to them. I am wondering if you have seen this approach work with children and autoimmune skin conditions like vitiligo.

  • Jordan says

    Hi Mickey! I tried AIP years ago, and while it certainly gave me a lot of energy, and I didn’t notice much of a change with my Rheumatoid Arthritis. I followed the meal plan in the book and everything, shopping only organic, spending a great deal of money to do so, but still, my pain was persistent over the 3 months I tried it. Naturally wanting to try anything I could to help with the pain, I learned of plant based eating through the documentary Forks Over Knives, and discovered quite quickly that meat was the trigger for all of my inflammation. My lab results even showed a decrease in inflammation right when I cut out the meat. I resubscribed to the email list recently because I was interested in combining my discovery of this with AIP, and was excited to see the email headline, but I feel a little tricked by this use of this “buzz-word.” I’m happy AIP has worked for you and so many others, but this post made me feel a tad ostracized as someone who has learned that meat is what triggers my RA. Any chance you have any posts acknowledging what to do when meat consumption isn’t in the cards for everyone with an autoimmune disease? Since all bodies are different? I assumed that was what this post was going to be, but if it’s not something you can personally relate to, I will respectively separate myself from all AIP content if it simply isn’t possible to incorporate with someone who has a clear cut, lab results proven meat sensitivity. Thanks!

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Jordan! Thanks for your thoughtful comment here. I can’t possibly write from anyone else’s perspective but my own, and this post is the product of my personal failure as a long-term vegan who regained their health after eating meat. I do know that some people with autoimmune disease have a sensitivity to meat, and in that case, I recommend making sure to consume enough seafood to meet protein and micronutrient needs. It is not advisable to do AIP without any meat or seafood as there is not enough protein to meet basic needs. I’m glad you found what works for you, and wishing you continued success on your journey.

  • quirky says

    when someone says they are plant based they do not mean they also eat animal foods. the term plant based means vegan and usually junk free, but the person may continue to wear leather and wool, which a vegan eschews. it is also wrong to state aip is plant-based because aip does include animal foods and states vegan is dangerous. aip is plant-positive at best.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Quirky! I respectfully disagree. I believe plant-based means exactly how it sounds – a diet that is a majority plant foods. If people want to refer to diets that are exclusive of specific animal foods, they can use the words vegan or vegetarian.

    • Ariane says

      Nope, plantbased is plant heavy, as in the basis and bulk are plants, not animal free, that’s vegan. You can have a plantbased vegan diet, but you also can have one that adds exactly as much meat as is needed to cover your bases, but still mostly consists out of close to natural plants.

      As to my knowlage, nothing about aip says, that veganism in itself is dangerous. The whole point of aip is to find the perfect diet for an Individuum and lower as many restrictions safely as possible. If you find, that you do great on legumes you maybe can do an aip adjacent vegan diet….
      The reason why aip and vegan are heavely disencouraged to be combined is that both are heavely restrictive diets and pretty much all vegan protein, zinc and iron sources are cut from aip as possible irritants, while all aip sources of them are cut in vegan for moral reasons. No health conscious person will advise you to a diet that can only lead towords heavy malnutrition!
      Aip however is a diet that is highly conscious of how subjective it is to what irritants one reacts and encourages you to explore what foods you personal react to and eat everything you found to be safe!
      Therefor aip does not say anything against veganism, as long as you do not react to any of the things needed to make it a well rounded diet!
      For some veganism works great, but that’s a privilege, as much as I love legumes, nuts and seeds, I do not do well on them and have to eat animal produce to make ends meet…..
      Maybe actually do research on it before you critique something, you probably are annoyed at the people who claim it is impossible to get enough protein or iron on a vegan diet too….. (cause you totaly can, as long as you do not have food in tolerances against their sources).

  • Ariane says

    Hell yeah! While I found no way crunching the numbers to make aip and vegan work at the same time, one really needs less meat then most people eat on a daily basis and aips focus lies on the often underrepresented vegetables. Even vegans often focus on grains, soy products and meat and dairy replacements instead of greens, roots and mushrooms!
    Some might make it a meat heavy diet, but at its core, it really is not. Mushrooms and greens get at least as much promoted as organ meats are. The focus is on quality, not quantity!!!
    A very good break down ^^

Leave a Comment