Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
So, you’re thinking you want to try being vegan and gluten-free. We aren’t going to tell you how easy it is to become vegan or gluten-free. But we are going to give you some info on what a vegan gluten-free lifestyle is all about (#healthbenefits), including trusted resources to continue learning, answers to questions we’ve picked up along the way and, of course, our tried and tasty the Vgn Way recipes to get you started.
Let’s get into it. We’ll cover what you can and cannot eat on a vegan gluten-free meal plan, explain how it can change your health for the better, and give you our very own home-kitchen, tried, trusted, and (#delicious) vegan gluten-free options. If we tried it and we loved it, we’ll share it with you.
VEGAN, GLUTEN-FREE, VEGETARIAN, PLANT-BASED – WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Most people associate veganism with plant-based foods, and that’s true. Think of the basis of any plant-based, vegetarian, or vegan gluten-free lifestyle as one engaged in for the purpose of eating fewer animal products and more vegetables, fruits, and whole foods. However, while all vegan, vegetarian, and plant-based options do include plants, there are significant differences that you’ll want to understand.
What is Vegan Gluten-Free?
A vegan gluten-free lifestyle, like that of the Vgn Way, involves vegan meals that also strictly avoid the grains that contain gluten – so a vegan gluten-free meal will not include wheat, rye, barley or any non-certified gluten-free oats.
A gluten-free diet pairs well with a vegan lifestyle because an easy way to avoid the risk of gluten contamination is to eat from vegan food groups that tend to be naturally gluten-free – such as fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, and nuts.
A gluten-free diet is typically associated with either a genetic autoimmune related medical condition, known as celiac disease, or a wheat gluten intolerance that occurs without testing positive for celiac disease or a wheat allergy. Wheat tends to be hidden everywhere and is included in lots of processed foods for many reasons, often to be a filler, preservative, or stabilizer.
Those who decide to go gluten-free typically do so to avoid the effects of gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance. The signs and symptoms can range from bloating, headaches, and feeling tired… to abdominal pain, indigestion, and skin problems… to joint pain, neuropathy, anemia, osteoporosis... and even depression.
We get it, the symptoms of gluten sensitivity can be complex. The Celiac Disease Foundation offers a quiz to help you discover your risk for celiac disease and find out if you should be screened for gluten sensitivities.
What is the Difference Between Vegan, Vegetarian, and Plant-Based?
A vegan meal will be 100% plant-based with no animal products – so it will not include meat, poultry, fish, seafood or any animal-based products such as eggs, dairy, or honey. In addition to the health benefits, “veganism” is often influenced by a moral imperative to protect animals out of respect for animal rights, to protect the environment, and/or religious reasons.
By comparison, a vegetarian meal will be plant-based – it will not include meat, poultry, fish or seafood - but may include eggs, dairy, honey, and wheat. It is important to note that there are several specific “types” of vegetarian lifestyles. One variation is pescatarian which is primarily vegetarian but with the addition of seafood. Another variation is flexitarian which allows meat and dairy products in moderation while still enjoying the benefits of mostly plant-based meals.
A plant-based meal looks to include a majority of food that comes from plant sources, but doesn’t always mean without meat. A plant-based diet allows for small portions of animal products – meat, dairy, eggs, and honey – but is mainly focused on “whole foods” which are fresh and not processed.
What Are the Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet?
In addition to the motivation and possibility of losing weight (which let’s admit is an appreciated result for most of us), another outstanding benefit is the improved health outcomes associated with consuming more plants and whole foods. Eating a well-balanced, plant-based diet increases your intake of many different vitamins that keep the body healthy. You can find additional information at the wikipedia site on veganism, about everything from its origins and philosophy to vegan meal rights and legal protections.
Is This Lifestyle Doable?
Preparation, preparation, preparation. We can’t say it enough – the key to a vegan gluten-free lifestyle is preparation. We encourage you to think of a vegan gluten-free meal plan as less of a diet and more of a lifestyle.
If you’re considering this lifestyle change it is probably because you’re tired of not feeling well. And since many people wonder how to go about making a vegan and gluten-free meal, that’s what we’re here for, to guide you with options that we have taste tested and loved. Follow the Vgn Way on Instagram as we share our delicious and simple vegan gluten-free recipes.
What About the Cost?
A vegan gluten-free lifestyle doesn't have to be expensive. We often hear people talk about the prices at "high-end fresh format” grocery stores like Whole Foods Market, Harris Teeter, and The Fresh Market, to name a few. Shopping the perimeter of the store, where the fresh produce, vegetables and bulk grains are, will be considerably less costly than shopping the interior aisles with the prepackaged, prepared, and processed foods.
High-end stores can be pricey, but cost doesn’t have to be a barrier to entry to the vegan gluten-free lifestyle. If high end grocery stores are out of your price range, there are other stores available – like Trader Joe’s, Aldi, and Costco – that we love at the Vgn Way. Check out the Vgn Way’s Trader Joe Vegan Gluten-Free Grocery List for our recommended pantry staples and goodies that are both vegan and gluten-free.
Also, consider the cost of poor nutritional habits. Medical care, insurance premiums, co-pays, and prescription refills that can occur as a result aren't exactly a trip to savings island. A plant-based diet helps you stay healthy and avoid the costly healthcare tests and treatments often associated with poor health.
Can These Diets be Modified?
Absolutely! The Vgn Way is not a place of judgement. Shad is strictly vegan, and Nija is a plant-based flexitarian with gluten sensitivity. Here at the Vgn Way we encourage you to do what makes you feel good, strong, and healthy.
Ironically enough, before Shad and I were a couple most people already thought I was vegan. I’ve used the term flexitarian to try and explain my preference, but my diet is plant-based not vegan. I agree with Shad’s beliefs but it’s not always 100% practical for me to be vegan 100% of the time. My diet is 90% vegan, but on occasion I do have dairy, fish or poultry. We choose not to feature any animal products [on the Vgn Way] because we want to showcase the full wonderful range of satisfying vegan eating. However, we want the Vgn Way not to be a place of judgement but a place where all are welcome to enjoy vegan gluten-free recipes whether it’s Meat-Free Mondays, Vegan, Vegetarian, Pescatarian, or Flexitarian. Some veggies are better than none.- Nija of The Vgn Way
Will I be Hungry?
If you’re a “carbitarian” – a primarily carbohydrate-based eater – who prefers pasta, fries, and grilled cheese sandwiches over vegetables and whole fruits, the odds are you’ll be hungry. If you’re eating salad greens only, you’ll probably be hungry. The bottom line is that a variety of plant-based foods is the key because the body needs the right mix of protein, carbs, and fat to sustain itself between meals. The good news is that dietitians and nutritionists agree that a well-planned plant-based diet has all the natural sources of nutrition the body needs to run efficiently and effectively, while also feeling full and satisfied.
To be healthy and strong, be sure that your sources of food include calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B-12, iodine, iron, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and protein. Here again, the good news is that on a well-planned vegan diet it is much easier for the average person to maintain dietary guidelines than you may think. A lot of plants have protein, and a variety of plant-based foods – such as beans, nuts, seeds, avocados, tofu, legumes, whole grains, whole fruits and vegetables – meet the daily dietary guidelines provided by the U.S. Departments of Health & Human Services.
How Do I Get Enough Protein?
One of the most popular questions and concerns we hear is how do vegans get enough protein? The Mayo Clinic, a recognized leader in the education and research of patient health outcomes, notes that a well- planned vegetarian diet provides sufficient protein from plant-based foods when you include a variety of plant sources throughout the day.
Dietician Tywana Ishman says "Here’s something to put in your back pocket. The amount of protein needed by someone who consumes a completely plant-based diet is pretty much the same as someone who eats animal-sourced proteins. It’s recommended that healthy adults consume 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This typically amounts to seven to 10 ounces of protein daily.” Ishman summarizes vegan protein options, plus pros and cons of a vegan diet.
Vgn Way Recipes
- Trader Joe’s Vegan Dairy And Gluten-Free Meal Plan And Shopping List [FREE PRINTABLE PDF]
- Simple & Easy To Make Peanut Butter Banana Mousse (Dairy Free + Vegan)
- How To Make Gluten-Free Vegan Strawberry Buttermilk Biscuits
- Fajitas Two Ways - Sheet Pan Portabello Mushroom Fajitas & Fajita Veggie Bowl (Vegan + Gluten-free)
- Instant Pot Gluten-Free Pumpkin Oatmeal (Vegan, Dairy-Free)