The first thing you should know is that there are many types of vegetarians and styles of eating vegetarian. The two most common are Lacto-Ovo (milk and eggs) and Ovo (eggs). There are also “semi-vegetarians” who mostly eat a vegetarian diet, with occasional additions of chicken, or fish.
My vegetarian cookbook mentions crusto-vegetarians who eat shell fish; mollo-vegetarians who eat clams, scallops, oysters or mullosks; repto-vegetarians who eats snakes and other reptiles…as examples of the few of many variations on the vegetarian diet. For the Lakota, your diet could be called a Paleo Vegetarian diet.
As Lakota people, consider this: your fore-mothers gathered tiƞpsila (wild turnips), ominiċa (beans — there is story about this vegetable and the importance of “giving back”), blo (wild potatoes), berries, wagameza (corn), wagmu (squash) and many other fruits and vegetables. There were healing plants that would have also found its way into the pot, as well. The people gathered eggs when possible, traded for corn and squash, and gathered wild rice (before coming out to the plains ̇ sometimes traded for it after being on the plains).
In the old stories about the first Huƞka “making of relatives” ceremony, with the Arikira, corn was given in the ceremony, by the Arikira. Corn is used in a soup with Ti̇ƞpsila and Tripe (buffalo guts). This soup is used in ceremony.
Since many of you do not gather up your fruits and vegetables in the old way, what can you do? First, get fresh fruit and vegetables whenever possible, when in season (less expense). Next to that would be dried or frozen.
Unfortunately, most of the dried foods found in stores around Native country are sulfured. “Organically made” dried foods are hard to find, and disproportionately expensive.
You can create a garden. To do so you would need to use an old traditional practice of “the three sisters” for planting. The garden would consist of beans, corn and squash. You can create low mounds with the and bean plants (corn supporting the trailing bean) corn at the center of the top, a circle of squash plants surrounding it. The center of the top would have a slight indent to catch water from the summer thunder storms.
Grains are not a part of the Paleo diet, with an exception of wild rice by the northern bands of the Oċeti Ṡakowiƞ. Baked or fried bread never was a part of the old traditional diet, not even unleavened flat breads. But I was told that there was a dumpling made from starchy vegetables and formed into balls then placed into the soup.
Nuts were also gathered when the people were encamped. So you can add some nuts to your diet for protein. The best nut is the almond, and of course walnuts would have been gathered a long time ago, from the walnut trees. If you choose to use acorns, make sure you understand the method to process them into edible food. Pine nuts are excellent, too.
The Benefits of a Vegetarian Diet
If you have Diabetes, obesity, kidney or heart disease you can be assured that the vegetarian diet will help you to build your way back to good health. Too much meat eaten at a meal is hard for the digestive system, and often is transformed into acids.
“Most digestive disorders, such as indigestion, nausea, bloating, gastric reflux, are symptoms caused by excess acid in the gastric region and not enough alkaline minerals in the intestinal tract.[i]”
Can you go Paleo AND do vegetarian? Why, yes. Remember there are many types of vegetarian diets. You can play with the type of meats you use… but, always remember you need to purchase grass-fed, free-range, and you will be much healthier!
If you add eggs, these too should be free-range. Milk should not be raw, but you should consider this: it was not a part of the Lakota/Dakota/Nakota diet. Women breastfed their babies sometimes until 7 years of age, and then no other milk was consumed.
Acid/ Alkaline pH Considerations
Many diseases are caused by pH imbalance. Such as: diabetes, heart disease, arthritis to name a few. Also disorders can be healed by eating correctly such as: acid reflux, morning sickness, migraines, and constipation.
A vegetarian diet is mostly alkaline in nature. This is due to the ratio of vegetables and fruits in the diet to proteins. Meats (red meats, beef, mutton, pork, salmon, herring, mackerel, lobster, shrimp and crayfish), millet, white rice, couscous, semolina, white breads, soda crackers, white refined sugars and items coated with it, lard and some lard-like products (Crisco) used for cooking, are all foods high in acid forming elements.
In general, a good rule of thumb is to plate your food with 2/3 alkaline foods, and 1/3 acidic. Of the alkaline types of foods, you should choose any leafy green vegetables, but the ones highest in minerals and vitamins for re-building and maintaining good health are Kale, Bok Choy, and spinach. In the Orange to yellow vegetable bracket are squashes, pumpkins, and carrots. Citric fruits should be eaten early in the day for better digestion.
Foods to avoid:
Refined sugar, all processed foods (white bread, rolls, etc.), any of the typical sweetening substitutes such as Sweet and Low (a carcinogenic) except for stevia (which is plant-based). Even though you may love your fry bread (as I do) that needs to be very limited (only at ceremony or special occasions). Most of the canned fruits used for Wojapi have an additional amount of corn syrups, so use fresh fruits instead.
Goodman, Ronald. Lakota Star Knowledge.
Vasey, Christopher. Acid Alkaline Diet for Optimum Health, The. (1999) Healing Arts Press.
[i] How to Balance Your pH to Heal Your Body. http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-6243/How-to-Balance-Your-pH-to-Heal-Your-Body.html.