Gluten-Free Vegetarian or Vegan

by Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD, LD on June 27th, 2011


Cheryl Harris Gluten Free Works

Gluten free vegetarian diet

Photo: Whole Foods, http://wholefoods.com

It can be challenging enough on gluten-free diet, but what if you eat a vegetarian or vegan diet? 

It’s well established that there are health benefits to reducing the amount of meat in the diets of most Americans, and the lifestyle has appeal for some people based on ethical and/or environmental reasons.  Fortunately, with extra planning, a well-rounded and delicious gluten-free vegetarian diet is possible.

The good news is that many vegetarian staples, like beans, lentils, tofu, dairy, nuts, seeds and eggs are already naturally gluten-free.  And some of the best sources of vegetarian and vegan protein are gluten-free pseudo-grains, such as quinoa, buckwheat and amaranth. Also, grains, such as millet, teff and sorghum are very nutritious.  In addition to protein and fiber, they all have other vital nutrients, like B vitamins, iron, calcium, magnesium, etc.

It’s vital for everyone with Celiac disease to get enough iron, calcium, magnesium Vitamin D, fiber and B vitamins (including B12), because these are often lacking due to damage from the disease process and eating patterns often seen in gluten-free diets.  Pair that with a vegetarian diet, which can be lacking in protein, iron, calcium, B12, omega fats, and Vitamin D, and it’s easy to miss out on necessary nutrients.

So what’s a vegetarian to do?

  • Focus on typical vegetarian staples that are gluten-free, like beans, tofu, nuts and seeds, and, of course fruits and veggies and.  If your diet includes dairy, eggs, fish, etc. these are very nutrient rich as well.
  • Watch out for the miso!  Surprisingly, sometimes it contains barley.
  • Eat a good source of protein with each meal.
  • Try quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth etc.
  • Get your vitamin D, iron and B vitamin levels checked.  If you have a history of low D levels, consider asking your doctor for a bone scan, too.
  • Consider a vegan or vegetarian omega 3 supplement from algae if you don’t eat fish.
  • When possible, include fortified gluten-free foods, like cereals, breads, etc.
  • Work with a Registered Dietitian to make sure you’re eating a balanced diet.

Fortunately, there are more and more vegetarian and vegan resources out there. Here are some of my favorite websites:

 

Shelley Case and Carol Fenster have a fantastic FREE e-book on gluten-free bean recipes.  Some recipes do contain meat, but many are vegetarian and all are bean based.

And a huge thanks to Ricki of http://www.dietdessertndogs.com/ for introducing me to this great new resource, which has a listing of a huge number of gluten-free vegan blogs: http://xgfxcommunity.blogspot.com

 

Books:

 

----------------------------- Author Information: Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD, LD, Alexandria, VA, USA. Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD, LD, Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist.  Her passion is teaching people to live and love a gluten-free diet in the Northern Virginia area. For more, see www.harriswholehealth.com or follow on Twitter @cherylharrisrd


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One Response to “Gluten-Free Vegetarian or Vegan”

  1. Ricki says:

    Thanks so much for this great resource, Cheryl, and for such useful advice on being both GF and vegan/vegetarian. And I can honestly say that I always have plenty to eat on my diet–and have enjoyed my food and recipes so much more since going gluten free! :)

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