A gluten-free vegan diet eliminates all food in a diet containing gluten and animal products. A person might choose a gluten-free vegan diet because of food allergies, to lose weight or for other health reasons. In the past, eliminating gluten and animal products from a diet made food choices difficult. The increased popularity of gluten-free and vegan diets, however, has made finding gluten-free and vegan foods in local supermarkets an easier task.
Gluten is a protein found in rye, barley and wheat. Removing starch from flour will produce gluten. Gluten acts as a binding agent because of its elasticity, making it ideal for pastas and breads. People who have a gluten intolerance, also known as celiac disease, must eliminate all foods containing gluten from their diet entirely.
Vegan diets eliminate all sources of food that are derived from animals. Vegan diets often replace animal protein with soy protein. There are many vegan alternatives on the market that contain soy, such as mock meats and soy-based cheeses. A large staple of the vegan diet consists of fruits, vegetables and grains.
A gluten-free vegan diet requires participants to read food labels carefully, because gluten is found in many grains and wheat products. Gluten is typically used as a binding agent in mock meats, so it is important for consumers to examine the ingredient list to determine if gluten is present. Many health food stores stock gluten-free foods such as bread, pasta and cereal. Many of these foods use alternatives to white flour or wheat, such as almond flour or rice starch.
Health benefits from a gluten-free vegan diet include lowered cholesterol, decreased risk of heart disease and weight loss. People who follow a gluten-free vegan diet typically will lose weight because of the elimination of many foods that contain saturated fat and the increased consumption of fruits and vegetables. Some people claim that the hormones and antibiotics that are given to farm animals have a negative effect on the human body, so those people often choose a vegan lifestyle.
Before beginning a lifestyle change such as a gluten-free vegan diet, it is beneficial for one to speak with a physician and dietitian. A multi-vitamin should be taken daily by anyone on a gluten-free vegan diet because of the elimination of many foods that are primary sources of necessary vitamins and minerals. A dietitian can be an excellent resource for people on a gluten-free vegan diet. Consulting a dietitian can help educate the dieter on healthy food choices and food sources that contain essential nutrients for a balanced diet.