In recent years, the connection between veganism and gluten consumption has become a hot topic. As the title suggests, people often wonder, do vegans eat gluten? This article will explain some misconceptions about the relationship between veganism and a gluten-free diet.
The short answer to our topic of discussion is yes. Gluten is a form of grouped proteins derived from plant-based cereal grains. It is not one of the animal-derived ingredients or a by-product, so vegans can most definitely consume gluten.
However, the only exception is if the consumer has some severe health issues and their medical conditions require them to avoid gluten. Let’s address more vegan and gluten-free diet queries to further understand some of these misconceptions.
Vegan-Friendly vs. Gluten-Free Diet
Although it has become ubiquitous to see vegan-friendly and gluten-free labels next to each other on food packaging, they are both two different diets that restrict the consumption of major food groups due to various reasons.
Some vegans might go for gluten-free foods due to gluten sensitivity, while others might turn to an entirely plant-based diet due to ethical reasons. Here are the main differences between the two diets that will also answer whether vegans eat gluten.
What Is a Vegan-Friendly Diet?
Understanding veganism is pretty simple. Vegans follow a diet that includes no animal products – such as fish, meat, dairy, and others. They do this mainly because of ethical, environmental, and health reasons. Therefore, they boycott eating anything obtained by hurting or exploiting animals.
What Is Gluten?
Gluten is essentially a protein that is most commonly present in various food items, like wheat and other grains. Below is a list of many food items that contain gluten:
- Durum wheat
- Khorasan wheat
What Do You Mean By a Gluten-Free Diet?
A gluten-free diet for health reasons excludes all food items that contain gluten. People with Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are commonly known to eat gluten-free foods.
How to Follow a Vegan Gluten-Free Diet
There are many delicious vegan and gluten-free recipes and foods that you can eat to satisfy your taste buds while also fulfilling your protein intake and dietary requirement. For example:
- Fresh fruits (especially citrus fruits)
- Vegetables such as sweet potatoes
- Oats labeled as gluten-free (although they are naturally gluten-free, the contamination involved in the manufacturing process can become a source of gluten)
- Nuts and seeds (pumpkin seeds)
- Most types of grains like quinoa, brown rice, and wild rice
- Legumes, including mung beans, black beans, and peas
You can also follow a gluten-free, vegan diet by preparing your food at home. While doing so, make sure that all food ingredients that you are buying from superstores have a gluten-free label on them to be safe.
Is Gluten a Vegan-Friendly Ingredient?
Gluten can be obtained from many sources, but it is a naturally occurring element in food products. As mentioned above, it is usually found in wheat flour and grain-based foods. So, it does not belong to the animal-based ingredients list and is vegan-friendly. This may make it more straightforward to understand whether vegans eat gluten or not.
Why Should Vegans Avoid Gluten?
People avoid gluten consumption for ethical or health reasons. So, in this case, vegans may continue eating gluten unless any underlying health issues emerge.
Research suggests that a gluten-free diet is becoming increasingly common as many people are becoming health-conscious due to emerging health issues.
In that case, they have the option to consume vegetarian meals for a more nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle. Many food items are available in the market today in a gluten-free form. The most common medical conditions linked to gluten consumption are:
Non-celiac gluten intolerance and sensitivity are the most common reason for gluten avoidance. It may be evident through different symptoms in sufferers, including abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and excessive flatulence. They may also feel lethargic, find it hard to focus, and experience body aches due to gluten consumption.
Gluten-sensitive people should consult a celiac specialist rather than making self-assumptions and changing their diet. The testing for this condition is a thorough process that cannot be done on your own.
Celiac disease is another popular reason people want to avoid gluten consumption. It is an autoimmune disorder that targets your digestive system. As gluten reaches the immune system, it starts to react abnormally and damages the bowels and intestines.
Although it is rare, celiac disease is common in adult men and women. It is a genetic disease requiring genetic testing for diagnostic purposes. Once the patient is diagnosed, a gastroscopy is carried out to understand how much damage has been caused inside the body.
This disease cannot be treated entirely but is relatively easier to deal with. Patients with celiac disease should consider gluten a poison and eliminate all of its traces from their daily nutrition.
If it is unrecognized or not appropriately treated, it can cause a severe conditions for patients. The whole body will experience inflammation and deficiency of nutrient absorption. Additionally, repetitive exposure to gluten can lead to life-threatening outcomes. These may include anemia, osteoporosis, vitamin B12 deficiency, and many forms of cancers, especially bowel cancer.
Wheat allergy is a form of your body’s abnormal reaction to gluten consumption due to a protein present in wheat. It typically results in nausea, bloating, anaphylaxis, and the most dangerous allergic reaction. This is usually common in children, but adults may be affected too. Therefore, allergic testing is done to diagnose this allergy.
Gluten consumption may also cause skin reactions in some people. For example, dermatitis herpetiformis is a reaction on the skin that leads to the appearance of blisters or bumps on different parts of the body due to consuming gluten. This condition requires testing to carry out the diagnosis.
It is an autoimmune disease that damages the human brain. As soon as the gluten enters your body, it starts releasing antibodies. But, instead of defending the body against gluten, they attack the brain. Gluten ataxia is not a well-known condition as it is still emerging, so the diagnosis will be a pretty complicated job.
FAQs About “Do Vegans Eat Gluten?”
Both of these are trendy diets and are not mutually exclusive. However, this implies that eating plant-based food doesn’t mean you are necessarily into gluten-free eating, and the opposite is also true.
In reality, these diets are entirely unrelated to each other. For example, you can have a vegan diet and eat or not eat gluten based on your personal preference. Alternatively, you can consume gluten-free products and eat or not eat plant-based foods.
There are no moral reasons to avoid gluten as a vegan, so it depends on your choice. Most vegan options naturally contain gluten, but many of them are still gluten-free options. For instance, vegan meat called seitan has a purely gluten-based formula in addition to some water, salt, and spices.
On the other hand, plant-based foods like fresh fruits, and vegetables, particularly leafy greens, beans, and some grains, are gluten-free. However, they can become gluten-based depending on the cooking method, so you need to be very careful when preparing a vegan and gluten-free meal.
Since there is no relationship between veganism and a gluten-free diet, you may or may not follow both diets. These two separate regimes can be combined to follow one diet known as a gluten-free, vegan diet.
While following this one, you can simultaneously avoid animal products (dairy, eggs, etc.) and plant foods containing gluten (wheat, bread, pasta, etc.). One concern might be that most base foods containing high amounts of gluten, such as grains and cereals, are vegan-friendly. But there are still many ingredients that can offer you a gluten-free, vegan diet.
At this point, we hope that this article has answered everything you need to know about the question: “Do vegans eat gluten?” If someone is a vegan, it doesn’t mean he can’t consume gluten and vice versa. There is no harm for vegans in eating gluten since it is a plant-based product. However, as explained above, one can simultaneously follow a gluten-free, vegetarian, or vegan diet.