Following a Gluten-Free Vegan Diet
Whether you’re following a vegan diet and have to go gluten-free, or you’re living gluten-free and are considering a vegan diet, this post is for you. Concerns and considerations are discussed in this post to help people have a better understanding of what following a gluten-free vegan diet might look like.
Defining a Vegan Diet
A vegan diet is considered to be a diet that excludes all animal products, not to be confused with a plant-based diet. Some people often take it even further and refuse to use any product sourced from animals. This means that those following a vegan diet only eat food from plants and nothing from animals. Meaning, no dairy, no meat, lard, and more.
Some reasons why people follow a vegan diet:
There are many reasons why people follow a vegan diet or live a vegan lifestyle.
A Vegan Diet for Health
Some consider a plant-based or vegan diet as a way to better support their health. There is a lot of research out there supporting a plant-focused diet as a way to support multiple health conditions. For instance, plant-based diets have been suggested to help metabolic syndrome, glycemic control, heart health, blood pressure, lipid health (think cholesterol and triglycerides) and more.
It’s important to note that when considering making big changes to your diet, like eliminating all or limiting most animal products, you should always consult your doctor or a dietitian if possible. Just like there is no one size fits all for clothes, there is no one diet that fits all in nutrition.
A Vegan Diet for Sustainability
A vegan diet is often touted for its environmental friendliness. Research suggests that a vegan diet can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, it’s also suggested that a flexitarian diet or a vegetarian diet can have similar impacts with less nutrient deficiency concerns. So if you’re considering a vegan diet to support the environment, you might consider other plant-focused eating habits as well. Again, a dietitian can help you figure out what’s right for you!
A Vegan Diet to Prevent Animal Cruelty
A lot of people go vegan to prevent the exploitation of animals. A lot of people take the route of veganism to stand against animal cruelty.
Is a vegan diet gluten-free?
Is a vegan diet gluten-free? No! If someone says that they are vegan, that does not mean they are gluten-free. The same goes for the opposite, if someone says they are gluten-free, that does not mean they are vegan. I can’t tell you how often people get the two confused.
Again, people who are vegan don’t eat animal products, gluten is not an animal product, thus it’s not restricted in a vegan diet. The same goes for those who need to eat gluten-free, gluten is a plant, and thus vegan food does not automatically equal gluten-free food.
Nutrient Deficiencies and a Vegan Diet
When removing any food group or most of any food group, nutrient deficiencies can always be a concern. In this case, when you remove all animal produts there are some nutrients people should be aware of that might not be as abundant as they’d be in a normal diet.
Some of the nutrients of concern include:
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B12
Again, this is a reason why working with a dietitian is important. A dietitian can help you determine what diet is best for you and how to balance is appropriately so you’re not missing any key nutrients.
Defining a Gluten-Free Diet
A gluten-free diet means just that, a diet free from gluten.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found some grains (remember the acronym BROWS, barley, rye, sometimes oats, wheat, and spelt).
Some reasons why people follow a gluten-free diet:
Just like there are a variety of reasons as to why someone might consider a vegan diet, there are a lot of reasons why someone might need a gluten-free diet.
The main reasons would be because of health conditions. Autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s disease often can be managed with a gluten-free diet. On top of that, conditions like non-celiac gluten-sensitivity and celiac disease might require a gluten-free diet as well.
Make sure you ALWAYS consult your doctor and dietitian before removing gluten from your diet. Going gluten-free before testing for certain conditions can impair your ability to be diagnosed for things like Celiac, in the future.
Nutrient Deficiencies and a Gluten-Free Diet
There are several nutrient deficiencies to watch out for when following a gluten-free diet. Here are some common nutrients of concern when following a gluten-free diet that I see:
- Vitamin D
- B Vitamins (including B12)
You can check out my post all about 5 Common Gluten-Free Diet Nutrient Deficiencies if you want to learn more about these nutrients and why there’s a risk of deficiency.
Tips on following a balanced gluten-free and vegan diet
Above I explored both a vegan and gluten-free diet. Hopefully, now you have a solid understanding of both. So if we compare the nutrients of concerns of both we can gain some insight on nutrients that someone considering a gluten-free and vegan diet might want to focus on.
Nutrients to be mindful of on a Gluten-Free and Vegan Diet:
- Calcium (click here for an awesome list of plant-based calcium sources)
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B12 (and other B Vitamins)
Vegan foods that aren’t gluten-free to watch out for:
- Tofu or Tempeh (can be seasoned, flavored, or marinated with products that have wheat)
Seitan (it’s always made from wheat)
- Other Meat substitutes (can contain gluten ingredients)
- Dairy Alternatives (some dairy-free milk can have unsafe additives like malt extract)
- Miso (can be made with or from wheat)
Naturally gluten-free and vegan foods:
- Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
- Canned Fruits and Vegetables (if they are in just water and salt, watch out for unsafe additives)
- Beans, lentils, and legumes (canned or dried without seasoning, watch out for cross-contact)
- Nuts, seeds, and nut butter (watch out for seasoning and cross-contact)
- Gluten-free grains (rice, amaranth, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, sorghum, teff)
Hopefully, by the end of this post, you feel like you have a better understanding of a gluten-free and vegan diet. If you have any questions, go ahead and comment below or contact me!