Vegan and gluten free diets get lumped together when people talk about fad diets. They may also discuss Paleo or Keto diets. Here is an excellent place to start for the difference between Keto and gluten free.
Gluten Free and Vegan diets are not the same. The foods in these diets are opposite in many ways. Vegans only eat plant-based products, while people following a gluten free diet may not eat some grains. Since a vegan diet is inclusive of all grains, vegan food cannot be considered gluten free.
Many packaged goods will claim vegan and gluten free labels, so they are frequently seen together, but they are entirely different. I’d even say that vegan means a higher risk of gluten in a product.
Are Gluten Free And Vegan The Same
Vegan and gluten free do have some overlaps, but it is not because they share restrictions similar to each other.
Vegan means they avoid animal products like meat and products made from what animals produce, such as eggs, milk, and cheese.
Gluten free means avoiding anything that contains wheat, rye, barley, or derivatives from these. Someone that is gluten free also needs to prevent cross-contamination of these products.
So this means that whole food like gluten free grains, vegetables, and fruit are both gluten free and vegan.
However, vegans can eat gluten grains. And gluten free includes meat, eggs, cheese, and other products not allowed on a vegan diet.
Another big difference between them is that a doctor or dietician typically prescribes a gluten free diet to treat symptoms or a diagnosed condition.
A vegan diet is usually self-prescribed for moral reasons.
These two diets are both considered “health foods.” Neither diet is necessarily healthy unless you are talking about someone eating gluten free to avoid symptoms or treat a disease.
“Health Foods” to most people means food that would be healthier for everyone to eat. And that isn’t true of either diet. It is essential to speak with your doctor or health team about changing diets and not assume that one way of eating will be best for everyone.
Can You Eat Gluten If You Are Vegan
Wheat, rye, and barley are the sources of gluten. These are all grains, which are harvested as plants. All grains are considered vegan.
Wheat is a good source of protein in some forms and is used to make vegan protein.
The vegan diet is friendly to gluten products. In many ways, it is more friendly towards gluten products than a typical American diet since meat as a protein source is gluten free while wheat as a protein source is not.
If a product is labeled “gluten free” it does not mean that it is vegan. These two diets do not share any restrictions similar to each other and only incidental similarities.
See the above graphic for an idea of how the two diets have food that overlaps, that neither can have, or that is exclusive to one diet or the other.
If you are only following a vegan diet and not a gluten free diet, you can eat wheat, gluten, and any vegan products that contain these.
Is Plant Based The Same As Gluten Free
Plant-based is closer to gluten-inclusive than gluten free.
The sources for gluten are wheat, rye, and barley. These are grains, which grow from plants. In other words, gluten foods are plant-based.
So gluten free and plant-based not only do not mean the same thing, but they can easily be mutually exclusive of each other.
Some people are both plant-based or vegan and gluten free, but those diets are not the same. Someone on both diets needs to know what grains there are, cross-contamination with grains, and animal products.
Many companies will produce both gluten free and vegan and give both labels to appeal to a broader audience and hopefully get more people to purchase it. An example of this is nuts or seeds.
This practice tends to lead to confusion between the two.
Does Vegan Mean Dairy And Gluten Free
Vegan means no meat, dairy, eggs, or other products from animals or that animals produce. Some consider honey an animal by-product, and so honey is not typically considered vegan.
For those on a gluten free diet, all of the above is acceptable and usually encouraged. These are whole foods that are easier to get gluten free than more processed products.
Meat and eggs are excellent choices for protein for those on a gluten free diet. Yogurt and cheese are suggested on a gluten free diet but disallowed on a vegan diet. Egg products such as mayonnaise are also allowed on a gluten free diet.
Vegan only refers to animal products and does not disallow any grains.
What Can You Eat On A Gluten Free Vegan Diet
Gluten free and vegan diets together can be challenging. In this case, a person needs to avoid meat, animal products, and grains that contain gluten and any by-products of these.
All fruits and vegetables are allowed as long as they are whole vegetables.
The tricky part comes with getting protein. Someone vegan may eat seitan, but this is almost pure gluten.
Someone that is gluten free could get their protein from meat, eggs, or dairy products.
Gluten free and vegan proteins are a little more complicated. There are beans and legumes (like lentils and peas), and of course soy. Vegan diets are known for their high content of soy. The soybean itself is gluten free and most soy products are as well, such as tofu. The problem with soy and gluten free comes with the introduction of wheat, especially in fermentation, for products like soy sauce and miso.
But there are gluten free versions of these products as well.
Someone who needs both a vegan and gluten free diet needs to be more cautious than most due to the high number of products that are not allowed.
Can You Eat Meat When Gluten Free
Meat is allowed on a gluten free diet and is an excellent option for gluten free protein.
No studies are showing a connection between gluten in meat for animals that eat gluten. Source
It doesn’t matter what foods an animal eats; the food stays in the digestive system. Meat is the muscle of the animal and has no direct contact with the food. Gluten is not absorbed and passed through the circulatory system. Therefore, meat is naturally gluten free.
You do need to be cautious with prepared meat to ensure it is gluten free. Cross-contamination can occur. Such as fried chicken which is prepared with flour unless using gluten free flour.
What Vegan Foods Have Gluten
Many varieties of bread, pasta, and other products contain both gluten and animal products, making them neither gluten free nor vegan.
However, some leave out the animal products in these foods, which are now vegan. Animal products commonly used in baked goods are milk, eggs, butter, and honey.
The most basic bread recipe uses wheat flour, water, and yeast. This recipe is considered vegan, but it is not gluten free. Wheat is the primary source of gluten. Rye and barley also contain gluten.
Other products that contain gluten but are vegan are soy sauce, seitan, and miso. Other typical products to look at are anything with grains. Watch out for vegan cereal, for instance, as it likely contains gluten.