IBS Plant-Based Meals for the Gut and Planet

Change the way you eat to help save the planet! Without eating meat or dairy, we could decrease global farmland by 75 percent and still feed the world.2 Plant-based diets not only save land, but also have lower carbon footprints, use fewer water resources, and contribute less to deforestation than animal-based diets. Switching to more plant-based foods while maintaining a low FODMAP and IBS-friendly diet can be challenging, but not impossible!

Vegan proteins

Livestock alone is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than every plane, train, and car – combined!1 Getting your protein from the source – plants – saves water and reduces these emissions. Try firm tofu or tempeh. Marinate and bake until crisp, or sauté with your favorite veggies. You can eat beans in small amounts, just make sure they’re canned and rinsed to lower FODMAP levels.3 If you also work in a variety of whole grains, nuts, and seeds throughout the day, you can meet your essential amino acid needs.

Plant-based milk

Did you know dairy milk requires more water and more than ten times as much land as non-dairy alternatives? 2 Plus, dairy can trigger symptoms in those with IBS. Unsweetened almond and hemp milk are always delicious options. Many of my clients enjoy almond-pea protein milk for higher protein. Yogurts made from almond, coconut, or pea protein can be tasty, too; just watch for added sugars. Choose products that are fortified with calcium and vitamin D, higher in protein, and stay away from soymilk, as it tends to be high in FODMAPs.

Fiber

Another benefit of a plant-based diet is fiber – animal products contain precisely zero grams of this IBS essential nutrient. Fiber plays an important role in all three types of IBS. Due to its viscosity and water-binding properties, soluble fiber helps bind stool together, a positive effect for sufferers of IBS-D and IBS-M. For IBS-C eating a higher intake of fiber from fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, and seeds is essential. Most Americans don’t get meet fiber recommendations, so eating a more plant-forward diet helps. Always remember to drink adequate water when increasing fiber to avoid constipation. Here’s a snapshot of some meal ideas packed with fiber!

Breakfast:

  • 2 slices gluten-free, whole grain bread, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons of sunflower butter (aka sun butter)
  • Sliced strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon of chia seeds

Fact: Sunflower seeds require 95 percent less water to grow than almonds, and when ground into a butter, makes a creamy, toasty flavored spread.5 Plus, they’re less likely to trigger symptoms!

Midmorning snack:

  • 2 brown rice cakes
  • 2 tbs roasted eggplant dip

Fact: Beef uses 163 times more land and 18 times more water than rice.4 Save the planet and protect your gut by snacking on whole grain rice products instead of something like beef jerky!

Lunch:

  • 3 corn tortillas
  • ¼ cup black beans, rinsed (instead of pork)
  • Red bell pepper strips, sauteed in olive oil and cumin
  • 1/4th of an avocado, mashed
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Unsweetened plant-based yogurt or lactose-free sour cream.

Fact: You don’t need to be 100 percent plant-based to impact the planet. But subbing in plant-based proteins and cutting down on meat can help. Pork’s carbon footprint is 6 times higher than that of beans, with beef a whopping 13.5 times higher.7 Beans and tofu are a tasty way to fill up while doing the Earth good.

Afternoon snack:

  • ½ cup cantaloupe
  • 2 tbs puffed millet
  • 1 tbs cacao nibs

Fact:Millet can grow in adverse conditions, making it a reliable grain for our changing climate.8 Its tiny texture is perfect for sprinkling in salads, puffed as cereal, or eaten as a breakfast porridge.

Dinner:

  • 1 cup Soba noodles (make sure they’re 100 percent buckwheat and gluten-free)
  • Stir fry made with:
  • Firm tofu, cubed
  • Scallions greens, sliced
  • Bok choy
  • Carrots, chopped
  • Kale, chopped
  • Soy sauce (gluten-free) and veggie broth
  • Fresh ginger or ginger powder
  • Sesame oil

Fact: Despite the name, buckwheat is actually not related to wheat. With 6 grams of plant-based protein per serving, these noodles are an excellent addition to stir-fries, cold noodle salads, and ramen soups.

Dessert:

  • 1 small firm banana
  • 1 tablespoon of dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
  • Slit the banana lengthwise through the peel, and stuff with fillings.
  • Wrap in aluminum foil, and bake at 300°F for about 5 minutes, until chocolate is gooey.

Fact: Peanuts, like other legumes, are nitrogen fixers. This means they replenish the soil, making them a sustainable crop that’s also IBS-friendly.

Whether you’re trying out meatless Mondays, or aim to eat vegan 3 days a week, you’ll be doing your body and the planet good. Start small, incorporating more plant-based foods as tolerated, and stay self-aware about the foods that your body likes best.

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