A plant-based diet is often (incorrectly) thought of as restrictive. If you then add the necessity (or choice) to also eat gluten-free, there are even more foods that you’re avoiding. So, I get if you are concerned that your meals will be boring and one-sided or wonder if it’s possible to meet all of your nutritional needs on a vegan and gluten-free diet.
So to answer all your questions and rid you of your worries, you’ll learn everything you need to know about gluten in this post. We’ll talk about what gluten is, which foods contain gluten (and which don’t), and how to make a vegan and gluten-free eating possible.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a group of proteins that is known for its ability to hold dough together and create fluffy textures. Thus, gluten is commonly found in baked goods such as bread and cakes.
How does celiac disease differ from gluten intolerance?
Celiac disease and gluten intolerance are often mistaken as being the same, but there are some significant differences.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder (triggered by gluten), which causes damage to the small intestinal mucosa. On the one hand, this increases the risk of nutrient deficiencies. On the other, foreign substances and microorganisms have a higher chance of penetrating the damaged membrane, making you more susceptible to disease.
The symptoms are usually relatively obvious with diarrhea, abdominal pain, migraines, weight loss, numbness, and acne-like skin. Moreover, depression or anxiety may be experienced.
A biopsy and an antibody blood test are usually done to diagnose celiac disease. The only treatment is lifelong abstinence from gluten.
In contrast, if you have a gluten intolerance/sensitivity, no autoimmune reaction (and thus no damage to the small intestinal mucosa) occurs when you consume gluten.
However, you may experience symptoms such as digestive problems, headaches, sleep disorders, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, muscle aches, acne, and fatigue. By avoiding gluten, you can minimize these symptoms.Summary: Celiac disease and gluten intolerance are often mistaken as being the same, but there are some significant differences. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder (triggered by gluten), which causes damage to the small intestinal mucosa. Symptoms can be diarrhea, abdominal pain, migraines, weight loss, numbness, and acne-like skin as well as depression and anxiety. In contrast, if you have a gluten intolerance/sensitivity, no autoimmune reaction (and thus no damage to the small intestinal mucosa) occurs, though you may still experience symptoms such as digestive problems, headaches, sleep disorders, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, muscle aches, acne, and fatigue.
Which foods contain gluten?
Grains that contain gluten are
- Original grain
- Green spelt
- Oats that are not certified gluten-free.
- Wild emmer
In addition, processed foods often (unexpectedly) contain gluten.
Therefore, you should read the label closely before buying items such as
- Salty snacks
- Breaded foods
- Spice mixes
- Frozen meals
- Ice cream
- Baked goods
- Soy sauce
What to eat on a vegan and gluten-free diet
Avoiding both animal products and gluten may seem super limiting, one-sided, and boring. But that doesn't have to be the case. Foods that contain gluten make up only a small portion of the wide variety of foods available on a whole-foods vegan diet.
Let's take a closer look at what you can eat as a gluten-free vegan:
1) Gluten-free grains
- Wild rice
- Certified gluten-free oats
4) Legumes & beans
5) Nuts & seeds
As you can see, you still got lots of choices. Aside from a few types of grains (and foods derived from them), you can enjoy all other food groups available on a vegan diet to the fullest.
Also, the amount of gluten-free products such as bread and snacks available in stores is consistently increasing, which makes implementing a gluten-free diet more accessible.
However, you do need to be careful because some products may be gluten-free but not vegan. Therefore, it is necessary that you take a close look at the ingredient list before you buy an item.Summary: Foods that contain gluten make up only a small portion of the wide variety of foods available on a whole-foods plant-based diet. You can still eat gluten-free grains (such as quinoa, rice, amaranth, corn) as well as all the vegetables, fruits, legumes & beans, and nuts & seeds.
Tips for replacing foods that contain gluten
- Instead of seitan, use soy products like tofu
- Bind soups and sauces with guar gum or locust bean gum powder.
- When baking do not replace flour with gluten-free flour 1: 1 because it will not turn out well — in this post, you'll find amazing tips for gluten-free baking.
- Replace Wheat Tortillas with Corn Tortillas, Rice Wraps or Nori-sheets
- Replace wheat noodles with gluten-free noodles, rice noodles, or quinoa noodles.
Moreover, there are plenty of amazing cookbooks out there that specialize in vegan and gluten-free recipes. So, they can be a huge help! Some examples are:
- Healthier Steps: 125 Gluten-Free Vegan Recipes
- Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats: Cut Out the Gluten and Enjoy an Even Healthier Vegan Diet with Recipes for Fabulous, Allergy-Free Fare
- Gluten-Free & vegan for the Whole Family: Nutritious Plant-Based Meals and Snacks Everyone Will Love
What is your favorite gluten-free recipe? I'm looking forward to trying it out. 😀