The list given below (not necessarily in order of importance) would not be my own personal listing because it excludes meat (especially organ meats from grass fed, organic, free range animals) and fish which I believe are among the very best foods you can eat.
Vegetables are essentially cleansing foods whereas animal foods are primarily building foods. A discerning combination of the two is the secret to an ideal diet. Almost no ancestral diet eaten by indigenous peoples and that sustains truly vibrant health is bereft of either food source.
The challenge for vegetarians is that they need their diet to provide enough saturated fats, minerals, fat soluble vitamins (D, A, and K), vitamin B12, certain minerals such as iron and zinc, and cholesterol which are ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL for health. All of these nutrients are to be found abundantly in animal foods so excluding these sets anyone at a disadvantage from the start.
In general I recommend the dietary guidelines of the Weston A Price Foundation (Google for web site) and where these do not clash with a vegetarian diet, I suggest that you follow these practises as much as possible.
I do not hold much store by eating a lot of foods raw. The best foods to eat raw are those that make up the traditional salads (lettuce, tomatoes, beetroots, carrots, etc..). The worst foods to eat raw are pulses (beans etc..) and brassica vegetables (broccoli etc) since they are full of anti-nutrient phytates which steal essential minerals from being absorbed in the gastro-intestinal tract.
For example the highly regarded food, spinach, contains a lot of phytate and although I do eat this raw in salads I do so sparingly. The only form of soya that I would recommend is miso and then in small amounts. Do not eat unfermented soya at all.
Traditional food preparation practises such as sprouting and soaking before cooking will help remove phytates and these processes are referred to below where appropriate I have included dairy in the hope that these foods are also not excluded. Of course any foods that you are aware of causing allergic or food intolerance type reactions should be avoided. However if in doubt, test to find out for sure before excluding:
|1 - **Micro-algae : chlorella, spirulina, blue-green algae (mineral rich, aminoacid rich, detox food)|
|2 - **Sprouted pulses and brassica foods: broccoli, alfalfa, lentils and sprouts from other nutrient dense plants|
|3 - **Omega 3/6 fatty acids from organic, virgin, cold pressed polyunsaturated oils – one tablespoon of each everyday (flax oil for omega 3 ; sesame or sunflower for omega 6). Never cook with these types of plant oils. Never buy them in plastic bottles. Only take a little every day. The vast majority of your oil consumption should be from olive oil, coconut oil, and butter.|
|4 - *Raw milk and any dairy products made from raw milk. Its not easy to find raw milk but it can be sourced in Dublin. In my opinion an “acceptable” compromise is milk which has only been pasteurised. Cheese in particular is a good source of vitamin K. Butter is an excellent source of much need saturated fat. Eat plentifully.|
|5 - *Fermented foods such as kefir, miso, sauerkraut or organic, natural yogurt (all great for gut building bacteria). Apart from breakfast you can eat a small amount of sauerkraut as a condiment with every meal if you enjoy the taste.|
|6 - *Pre-soaked and well cooked porridge for breakfast sustains blood sugar throughout the day. However I would prefer a breakfast based on eggs (poached or boiled).|
|7 - Warm water with lemon and/or added sea salt at least an hour before breakfast – detox support. Green tea is also excellent and should be taken once a day.|
|8 - **Adrenal supporting herbs such as the ginseng herbs or ashwaganda or tulsi.|
|9 - *Good quality saturated fats from pure virgin, cold pressed olive oil and coconut oil. In particular coconut oil should be eaten plentifully since it is one of the few sources of saturated fats which are absolutely essential to the body.|
|10 - *Nuts that are fresh, raw, and unprocessed: almonds, brazil nuts and walnuts.|
|11 - *Seeds that are soaked for at least 24 hours and/or freshly ground. Similarly pulses should be carefully prepared by soaking before being well cooked to remove phytates and other anti-nutrient elements.|
|12 - *Organic, authentic free range eggs – boiled or poached to keep the proteins as unspoiled as possible – eat at least two a day. Eggs are perhaps the single most important food for vegetarians since they supply a range of nutrients including a full range of protein, cholesterol and minerals such as sulphur which are essential for health. The eggs should be organic and truly free range. To see the difference I suggest you buy so-called “organic” eggs from a supermarket and eggs from a farmer directly who keeps the hens according to traditional farming methods. You’ll see the difference in the colour of the yokes. This will convince you of the quality difference more than any words I can write.|
|13 - **Good Quality, Fermented Cod Liver Oil – besides being a great source for fish oil Omega 3 (EPA & DHA) it’s a balanced source of vitamin D. By balanced I mean that cod liver oil supplies vitamins A and D in a synergistic ratio. This illustrates the problem with taking synthetic supplements which are concentrated sources of single vitamins. Prolonged consumption of excess vitamin D in the absence of vitamins A and K to balance the metabolic effects of vitamin D alone is toxic. That’s why food is best. So supplements should be never more than a supplementary addition to the diet. If you are taking more pills than you can count on the fingers of one hand it’s probably far too many…. Fermented cod liver oil made in the traditional fashion is the best you can buy (Google Green Pasture brand available online). I would not compromise on quality here. Up to a tablespoon a day.|
|14 - **Bee pollen and propolis are two excellent food extracts from bees which are nutrient dense.|
|15 - *Bread is not a super food but it should be noted that careful selection of the type of bread you eat can eliminate many of the allergic or food intolerant or anti-nutrient effects of this food. Best choices are those prepared by traditional fermenting techniques such as sour dough rye.|
|16 - *Combining pulses and rice is said to provide a reasonably balanced mix of protein but wherever possible I would add in an egg to provide a truly concentrated source of this vital nutrient.|
|17 - **Dark chocolate – at least 70% cocoa content. If you enjoy this then I would indulge a small amount of this treat every day but do not overdo.|
* foods with a single asterix are staple and collectively they should make up the majority of what you are eating if meat and fish are unacceptable
** foods with a double asterix are complementary foods to be eaten in small amounts that nevertheless can provide an excellent source of nutrients which might not otherwise be consumed in optimal amounts.