How to eat a gluten-free vegan diet

So many people avoid gluten these days without actually having a gluten intolerance. I don’t think there’s a point to this because it restricts the amount of vegan food available to you. In saying that, quite a few people have a true intolerance to gluten, but have not been medically diagnosed. If you notice one or more of symptoms such as

  • severe abdominal pain and bloating,
  • vomiting,
  • chronic diarrhoea,
  • severe weight loss,
  • pale, foul-smelling, or fatty stool,
  • chronic fatigue,
  • unexplained iron-deficiency anaemia,
  • bone or joint pain,
  • missed menstrual periods,
  • infertility or
  • depression

whenever you eat foods containing gluten, it is important that you visit your health practitioner as soon as possible.

If you are gluten intolerant, you should already have a medical diagnosis of celiac disease. And as such, you need to avoid gluten at all cost.


If you have no idea what celiac disease is, I’ll tell you what it is very briefly.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder (when your immune cells attack your body) that causes damage to your small intestines whenever you eat gluten or foods that contain it. The damage to your small intestines stops you from absorbing crucial nutrients in your food. Over time, this can lead to more serious health problems such as, anaemia, osteoporosis, infertility, migranes and even certain intestinal cancers.

Since there is currently no cure for celiac disease, the only way to manage it is by following a strict gluten-free diet.

Foods to avoid if you’re eating a gluten-free diet 

If you suspect you may be gluten intolerant, you can try cutting out gluten from your diet for 30 days to see if it improves your symptoms. After 30 days, you can try adding gluten-containing foods into your diet one at a time to see which of them cause your symptoms to flare up.

To cut out gluten, it is important that you avoid all foods that contain:

  • Wheat flour, wheat and its derivates including wheatberries, durum wheat, emmer, semolina, spelt, farro, Kamut (Khorasan wheat), bulgar wheat
  • Rye
  • Triticale (a cross between barley and rye)
  • Barley
  • Malt
  • Brewer’s Yeast

If you eat processed foods, you must avoid all of them unless the label specifically states that they’re gluten free Some processed foods you may want to avoid include:

  • Flour: white bread, batter coatings, bagels, tortillas, pizza, cookies, wraps, pitta bread, muesli, granola, biscuits, pancakes and crackers.
  • Pasta
  • Bread
  • Cereals
  • Couscous
  • Whole wheat noodles
  • Semolina
  • Mock meats containing hydrolysed wheat proteins
  • Salad dressings
  • Certain spice blends
  • Flavoured roasts nuts
  • Modified starch
  • Certain medications and vitamin supplements bound to gluten
  • Malt vinegar
  • Barley malt
  • Malt flavourings
  • Soy sauce, marines, gravy mixes
  • Ready made sauces
  • Beer, ale, lager

Gluten-free foods

You may already feel that a vegan diet is limited, so having to eat a gluten-free vegan diet may be even more limiting. This may be true in some ways because a lot of everyday foods contain gluten. However, with the exception of certain grains and flours, there is an abundance of gluten-free foods you can eat.

If you’re eating a whole foods, plant based diet, you’d be glad to know that all fruits, vegetables and legumes are naturally gluten free. You only need to be careful when it comes to grains, flours and certain condiments.

Gluten-free whole grains

  • Amaranth
  • Buckwheat
  • Corn
  • Millet
  • *Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Sorghum
  • Teff

Gluten-free flours

  • Almond meal flour
  • Amaranth flour
  • Arrowroot flour
  • Brown rice flour
  • Buckwheat flour
  • Chia seed flour
  • Chickpea flour
  • Hemp flour
  • Millet flour
  • Oat flour
  • Potato flour
  • Quinoa flour
  • Sorghum flour
  • Teff flour
  • Soy flour
  • Tapioca flour
  • White rice flour

*Oats are naturally gluten-free, but they can become contaminated due to cross-processing with rye and barley. Ensure that your oats are labelled as gluten free.

When it comes to condiments choose

  • Tamari (instead of soy sauce)
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Distilled vinegar

If you eat mock meats, ensure that they are made with hydrolysed soy proteins instead of hydrolysed wheat proteins.

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