Before we begin talking about what it means to be a gluten-free vegan, please be sure to consult your doctor if you suspect you have a gluten allergy or any other medical condition. This information is meant to aid you in any discussions you have with a medical professional.
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What is Gluten?
The website celiac.org explains gluten as the general name for proteins found in:
- Wheat (including, but not limited to: wheatberries, durum, semolina, spelt, farina, farro, graham, and emmer)
Gluten acts as a glue that holds foods together and help them maintain their shape.
According to the University of Chicago Medicine Celiac Disease Center:
- “Celiac disease is an inherited autoimmune disorder that affects the digestive process of the small intestine. When a person who has celiac disease consumes gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, the individual’s immune system responds by attacking the small intestine and inhibiting the absorption of important nutrients into the body. Undiagnosed and untreated, celiac disease can lead to the development of other autoimmune disorders as well as osteoporosis, infertility, neurological conditions, and cancer.”
- 1 in 133 people in the US suffer from celiac disease (that’s approximately 3 million Americans!). The really shocking part of this statistic is that about 97% of celiac patients are undiagnosed.
You don’t have to have celiac disease to want to reduce your gluten intake. Some people have non-celiac gluten sensitivity, meaning that they experience adverse reactions to gluten, including:
- bloating, gas, and stomach pain
- brain fog
- joint pain
- diarrhea or constipation
Is It Hard to Be Gluten-Free and Vegan?
The good news is that, especially in this day and age, it’s not all that difficult to be vegan and gluten-free.
In 2004, the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act became law. Since then, all foods must be labeled to identify the eight major food allergens. These allergens include milk, egg, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts, and soybeans.
Plant-Based Gluten-Free Proteins
Meat and dairy are naturally gluten-free (provided they don’t contain any additives). There are also PLENTY of plant-based gluten-free protein sources available.
Here are a few:
In addition to the plant proteins listed above, vegans following a gluten-free diet can also enjoy these foods:
- Gluten-free oats
- Non-wheat flours such as corn, brown rice, almond, chestnut, tapioca, coconut, and sorghum
- Coconut aminos
- Vegan cheese
- Nutritional yeast
- Almond, soy,and coconut yogurt
- Plant-based milks
Are Faux Meats Gluten-Free?
Not all faux meats are gluten-free, so you need to pay close attention to labels here. For example, some Gardein products are gluten-free, while others aren’t.
On the other hand, Beyond Meat protein is derived entirely from peas, mung beans, and rice. It does not contain soy, gluten, or GMOs.
The newest iteration of the Impossible Burger is also gluten-free, although the first version did. Today’s Impossible Burger is made from potato and soy protein.
Any faux meats containing seitan (also known as “wheat meat”) are also off-limits if you’re trying to ditch the gluten.
Dining Out as a Gluten-Free Vegan
This one is a bit trickier. While fast food places and restaurants are doing a much better job of offering vegan and vegetarian options, finding menu items that are both gluten-free AND veg-friendly is a bit more challenging.
A good part of the challenge comes from the risk of cross-contamination during food production and cooking processes.
Burger King and Taco Bell do a great job of offering vegan options, but they have a high likelihood of cross-contamination, according to this article in Very Well Fit magazine. The Taco Bell website states that they cannot guarantee that any of their foods are entirely gluten-free.
Even if a restaurant touts gluten-free options, the possibility exists that they cook fries in the same fryer as breaded chicken nuggets.
If you have a serious gluten allergy, the best thing to do when dining out is to ask a restaurant manager about their cooking and food-handling processes.
Some Other Foods to Watch Out For That May Contain Gluten:
- Soy Sauce (not all are gluten-free)
- Bouillon cubes
- Tomato sauces
- Roasted nuts
- Salad dressings
- Some herbal teas
- French fries (some fries have a light coating of flour; fries may be cooked in the same fryers as breaded foods)
- Chips (potato and tortilla)
- Pretzels and crackers
- Breads, pastries, and other baked goods
- Pastas and noodles
- Beer and anything that may contain brewer’s yeast
- Flour tortillas
- Breaded foods
15 Gluten-Free Vegan Recipes
- Healthy Chocolate Smoothie by A Virtual Vegan
- Easy Vegan Pineapple Fried Rice by Vegan Huggs
- Vegan Gluten Free Quinoa Paella
- Obsession-Worthy Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream by Oh She Glows
- Crispy Potato Tacos by She Likes Food
- Vegan and Gluten Free Slow Cooker Lasagna (updated 2020) by Vegan Chickpea
- Best Gluten-Free Pizza Crust by Ela Vegan
- Vegan Mock Tuna by Vegetarian Zen (can be found in our Buddha Bowl Book or on our site! Be sure that the vegan mayo is gluten-free (ex. Just mayo and Hellman’s Vegan mayo are both gluten-free).
- Colcannon Recipe (A Traditional Irish Dish of Potatoes and Kale)
- Easy Vegan Breakfast Tacos by Minimalist Baker
- Cauliflower Buffalo Wings by Detoxinista
- Vegan Jackfruit Enchiladas Verdes by Simply Quinoa
- Amazing Vegan Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies by Allergylicious
- Easy Gluten-Free Pancakes by Mama Knows Gluten Free
- Homemade Ravioli with Tofu and Spinach
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A Special Thanks To Our Sponsors:
- The Golden Apple Roundtable (our Patrons) on Patreon!
Further Reading and Resources Used for this Episode:
- Celiac Disease Foundation
- Vegan Society Gluten-Free Page
- Gluten Free Food List from Healthline
- Protein on a Gluten-Free Vegetarian or Vegan Diet
Thanks for listening!
Peace and Veggies,
Vickie and Larissa