Can you heal your gut on a Vegetarian diet are words I never thought I’d write or a topic I never thought I’d be interested in exploring.

Until Facebook.

Stupid Facebook.

My goal on this gut-healing journey and optimal wellness is and always has been to be super transparent with you. I’m not here to shill people, products, and brands for anything or anyone. 

I’m here to help YOU and help myself because a healthy gut leads to a happy life. I know this for sure because I have lived it, and I do live with it, daily.


I swear by the GAPS Diet. It changed my life in 2009, and I will forever be grateful and indebted to it.

Cleaning Out the Gut Part I GAPS vs AIP vs SCD GAPS Diet Gut Healing Protocols

Most people (even people who really know me) assume that I am – and always have been – Vegan. False. Completely false. There was never a day in my life when I was Vegan, and especially not from 2009 on, when I dug in to intense gut healing through the GAPS Diet.

My mind told me I wanted to thrive on grains, fruits, and vegetables, but my body screamed otherwise. 

I listened to my body, and healed in major ways. 

And, in fact, it’s the basis for The Gutsy Girl’s Bible: an approach to healing the gut, 3.0.

So I stand by it 1,000%. I did then, I do today, and I always will.

Over the past couple years, though, I started to believe that you must live life while simultaneously having weird meat aversion. Ugh. (Literally, FML is what I’ve been constantly thinking.)

Enter Facebook

And then something really weird happened early this week. I was scrolling through Facebook one night (my first mistake) and someone shared this awful video of a dog tied up and a man beating it. My heart broke into a million pieces. I have – literally – been fixated on it all week, and had I not scrolled on past, I would have immediately removed the person who shared it from my feed. Just why? 

But all the sudden, my mind went from the dog to eating meat from other animals, and I felt a bizarre sickness. 

I’ve sat with it all week, while not eating any meat, to try to understand why and where it’s coming from. 

And I think I know.

It’s been months since I’ve known where my meat is coming from. I’ve been eating it to eat it, but I have no idea why because long before this the aversions started.

I don’t want to live on meat autopilot anymore. Instead, I want to learn more and find out where and how to go from here.

What is a Vegetarian Diet?

There are several versions of the Vegetarian diet. Here are several according to the Global Healing Center

  • A semi-vegetarian will eat some meat, but attempt to avoid it as much as possible. In the order of importance, red meat is particularly avoided in favor of poultry or fish.
  • A pesco-vegetarian will eat fish, but not red meat or poultry.
  • A pollo-vegetarian will eat poultry, but will avoid meat and fish.
  • A lactoovo-vegetarian will avoid meat, poultry, and fish, but will eat dairy products and eggs. Most insist on eating only free-range eggs and believe hen farming is an inhumane practice that should not be economically supported.
  • A lacto-vegetarian will consume dairy products, but not eggs.
  • A full-vegetarian will avoid all meat, poultry, and fish. Additionally, he or she will avoid eating products such as gelatin or marshmallows that are made from animal byproducts.
  • A very strict form of vegetarianism is known as the vegan lifestyle. Vegans avoid eating or using any kind of animal product, dairy products, eggs, processed foods made with animal derivatives, and clothing made from animal hide. Vegans also avoid using products that have been tested on animals for commercial or medical purposes.

For me personally, I am talking about a combination of semi-vegetarian and pesco-vegetarian.

Can You Heal Your Gut on a Vegetarian Diet?

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Can you heal your gut on a Vegetarian diet

My desire for not wanting to live on meat autopilot anymore, lead me to this place, to this question, and to seeking answer the answers to: 

Can you heal your gut on a Vegetarian diet?

If ever there was a time for this to happen, I am thankful it was early this week because yesterday I had an appointment with my doctor (the one in California).

Besides our biggest conversation we would have around SIBO, this was my only other main question. 

Yes or No?

His quick and dirty answer,

Yes, yes you can heal your gut on a Vegetarian diet as long as you keep mindful about nutrient density.

One of the first statements he made was that he was totally fine with me leaving red meat out, which actually made a ton of sense to me that he’d say that because he is a big fan of Dr. Sara Gottfried and in her book (I have it), The Hormone Reset Diet, there is an entire section and “reset” on going meat-free, which for her is mostly defined as red meat (because you can still have turkey, chicken, etc.)

He then went on to specifically call out three foods to focus on if I would be going more Vegetarian. Here they are:

  1. Beans

    Yes, I was shocked, too. But he’s talking about properly prepared beans, not just canned garbanzo beans. Wondering how you do that? I put together a list of 8 ways to properly prepare beans.

  2. Sardines

    Oh for the love, back to these. I have done it, and I can do it, but it’s still a huge feat for me to get them down. I’ll need to figure out more recipes in order to really incorporate them. The first stop, though, will be to grab them from a brand I trust, Wild Planet.

  3. Fish (in general)

    He especially pointed out salmon. 

I told him these following foods/categories of foods I wanted to mostly focus on:

  1. fish
  2. vegetables
  3. some fruit
  4. eggs
  5. fats (avocado, coconut oil, other oils)
  6. nuts and seeds
  7. fermented foods

He said that was fine (with the exception of the diet protocol I have to follow for probably the next few months), but asked if I could throw in some high-quality, organic chicken from time-to-time. I agreed, and I also said that if I was able to find another high quality, organic meat meal, I would be open to that as well.

I am not entirely certain where this is going to lead me, but I do know that right now it feels right. And not only does it feel right, but I’ve been enjoying a new-ish spin to the daily eats. Yesterday I had:

  • eggs
  • a smoothie (because remember, it’s smoothie week!)
  • a lot of vegetables (green beans, mushrooms, arugula, kale)
  • a Paleo Bar (duh)
  • coconut milk latte
  • kombucha
  • rice
  • banana
  • tuna
  • nut butter
  • sunflower and flaxseeds (but that’s really for seed cycling, which I do daily)
  • coconut oil

I covered most of Dr. Schweig’s recommendations, and quite honestly, I felt fantastic all day long.

So what do you think? Can you heal your gut on a Vegetarian diet?


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  1. I was so excited to see this post! I was vegetarian for a while due to low stomach acid issues, but I started incorporating meat again a few years ago. The majority of our red meat and all pork we eat (with the exception of Applegate Farms bacon) comes from a local farm I 100% trust (Yonder Way Farm). But we started buying organic or “natural” meat and chicken at the grocery store sometimes to save money, and recently I’ve wondered if it’s really worth it to even eat that meat. So we’re back to all of our red meat coming from Yonder Way, and we just don’t have it often (maybe once a week), and we’ll also eat organic chicken from the Costco around once a week. But if I’m honest, vegetarianism still appeals to me the most! I haven’t eaten beans in years, so I’ll have to look at your preparation post. Anyway, all that to say, thank you for this post. It’s refreshing to know that we don’t have to eat ALL the meat to be healthy!

    1. Thank you, Brooke! Yes, that’s my plan….to try to get back to enjoying meat, but maybe just like once a week – super high quality. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, and I’m looking forward to sharing more as I explore.

  2. Sarah-BTW, I’m a CA girl living in Elk Grove so I know where Tracy is. 🙂 I am so interested in this post. I have preferred to eat vegan over the past few years simply bc I just don’t like the “thought” of what I am eating when I eat animal products. And in doing so I have wondered if I am doing my gut good. I have recently been thinking of adding fish back in. Maybe eggs. Your list of what you ate yesterday suits me as well as I love all of those same things. I’m encouraged by hearing the response of your Dr. Not sure about the sardines, though. Ha!
    <3 Carolyn

    1. P.S. I cant even deal with your story about the dog on FB. Heart crushing, for sure!

  3. Sarah- so interesting! My transplant medications make me have horrible food aversions, so it has been very difficult for me to eat how I think I “should” be eating for gut healing. I’m definitely going to be following along – I’ve been leaning more towards vegetarianism because I can’t stomach meat anymore. Thanks for this!

      1. I love this post! Eating paleo has been the biggest heartbreak of having SIBO for me. I would love this if it was possible!

  4. Food for thought… I had eaten paleo, AIP, etc.. for several years to heal my gut (with a very similar story as Sarah’s). I was better but no where near 100% which I didn’t understand considering how disciplined I was. It wasn’t until that I switched to the Blood Type Diet that I finally made the leap closer to full health. My type (Type A) does much better on a vegetarian diet. The most common blood type (Type O) does better on a paleo-ish diet, though. I know, I know…another “diet”. If it weren’t for the change i saw and felt within 5 days I wouldn’t even mention it. Everything cleared up and energy increased once I changed to a vegetarian diet. Beans and soy still make me bloated and gassy no matter how I prepare them. I learned it’s important to listen to your body and let that guide my lifestyle which may override my heart/beliefs because they are not serving my physical being well. Good luck on your continued journey.

  5. I struggles, so much, emotionally and philosophically with eating meat. I love animals, but every time I’ve tried to be vegan or vegetarian, I get tired. My son, 16, has some digestive issues, and he has an ADHD diagnosis and is close to getting an level 1 autism diagnosis. I have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. We both deal with depression, as well. What I want to do is quickly get through the intro. phases of GAPS, and then live on the full GAPS. It is my understanding that you can be close to vegan on the full GAPS, similar to what you’ve suggested. Thank you so much for the post! I’m not going to sign up for emails because I already get too much, but I will be coming back to your blog.

  6. Thanx so muchfor this artikel! Vegetarian / vegan for 25 yrs and crashed in the en. (Bliodtype b). Realize the truth of gaps so have indeed tried. Googled efter trowing up again after tryin Fish 😰 only stuff i can seem to get down are a few Shrimp, canned tuna and bought poultry stock. So live on this, cooked veggies allowed dairy basicly. Seems impossible doin intro for me.. Need to keep my food down. So inspiring to read this!

  7. My day was great, until I read this post. Why would you retype the awful thing you saw on Facebook only to make everyone else who reads this want to kill themselves out of sickness, the same sickness you felt. Why? You ruined my day and I’m really upset you would even transfer that negative energy onto a platform like this and spread that horrible image. Shameful. Why? Please never do this again. I appreciate your information, although rice is horrible for you. But please be more respectful.

  8. So crazy that your question is about vegetarian diet for gut healing and the protocol you promote includes fish which is NOT vegetarian (pescatarian)

    Seems to be a bit misleading

    1. Hi Sue! Perhaps you didn’t read the full post or misunderstood. I know the differences between Vegetarian, Vegan, Pescatarian and so on. All I was saying was that my doctor thought I could lean in **more** towards Vegetarian, but with the caveat of consuming fish sometimes. It was not a “this is a Vegetarian diet I’m following.” In the end, though, that did not work for me at the time.

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