The traditional and nourishing foods diets made popular by Weston A. Price and Sally Fallon of Nourishing Traditions often emphasize the consumption of animal products. This is due to their nutrient density and availability year round. It is easier to get sufficient protein by eating a juicy steak it is thought, rather than by eating a couple pounds of collard greens or spinach. Vegetarians though, may have health, environmental, or ethical objections that dictate what they eat and often times this excludes meat.
Vegetarian diets on the other hand, have long favored grains in bread, pasta, and rice as a staple of their diets. Vegetarians are also more likely to eat soy based meat alternatives such as soy bacon or soy turkey. Traditional diets enthusiast know that conventional grains have antinutrients and acids that can make them nutritionally deficient. They also avoid soy because it is higher in phytoestrogens (plant based estrogens) than just about any other food source. This has caused soy to be linked to a variety of health problems.
Can vegetarian diets and traditional foods diets meet somewhere in the middle? How can vegetarians eat a nourishing diet full of traditional, real, unprocessed foods without contradicting their values? It is actually easier than you think.
Pastured Dairy and Eggs – Despite the fact that vegetarians refuse meat and animal flesh most vegetarians will consume diary and/or eggs. To eat these foods in a more traditional fashion just make sure that dairy is bought raw (unpasteurized) and comes from grass fed dairy cows. Eggs should be bought locally from farmers who allow their chickens to roam free and eat a natural pastured diet. Not only are you ensuring that you eat the healthiest foods possible you are also advocating for the humane treatment farm of animals by supporting ethical farmers.
Ferment Your Food – This food processing method is what gives us sourdough, fermented vegetables like pickles and kimchi, fermented dairy like yogurt and kefir, and kombucha tea. They are favored as amazingly nourishing foods because they are full of nutrients and they make foods easier to digest and assimilate. The fermentation process also adds healthy bacteria and/or probiotics. Soy products are best avoided completely unless they are fermented the way tempeh and soy sauce are. The fermentation process reduces soyís phytic acid content greatly.
Soak Nuts, Grains, and Seeds – Nuts, seeds, and grains are welcome additions to a nourished vegetarian diet but they need to be prepared properly. These foods contain enzyme inhibitors that protect them from premature sprouting. This makes them tough for us to digest and it makes accessing their nutrition difficult. They also have antinutrients that interfere with mineral absorption. Soaking or sprouting nuts and seeds eliminates this issue. Whole grains can be soaked before cooking or grinding and flour can be fermented (sourdough).
Make Eating Veggies Easier – A revolution in the form of green smoothies has been going strong for a couple years now. It may not be traditional but not all wisdom is old. Green smoothies are a blended drink that incorporates leafy greens and vegetables and makes them palatable to drink in quantity and they taste delicious too! Usually they include greens and/or veggies and fruit as sweetener. This disguises the veggies so well that you canít even taste them and often times people are amazed when they first try one.
With a few new practices you can make sure that your vegetarian diet is exceptionally high in nutrition even if you prefer to skip nutrient dense meat products. You too can reap the benefit of a traditional, nourishing natural living diet.