Going out to eat is a fun way for many people to relax and not think about meal planning, cooking or doing dishes. But when someone is on a special diet, eating out can be difficult or nearly impossible. People on gluten-free diets and those on vegan diets need to pay extra attention to what they eat to avoid specific ingredients. Maintaining a vegan and gluten-free diet can be even more difficult.
A gluten-free diet is a special type of diet originally created for people with celiac disease. According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, celiac disease is an autoimmune condition in which a person cannot digest the protein-rich part of the wheat-kernel, called gluten. Doing so causes side effects like stomach cramping and diarrhea. Therefore, gluten-free diets remove all traces of gluten from foods like wheat, rye, barley, pretzels, bagels, breads, baked goods and even soy sauce.
Vegan Diet Restrictions
Vegan diets are usually not done for medical reasons like gluten-free diets are, though they can provide health benefits. People who choose to become vegans often do it for animal rights or environmental reasons. Vegan diets are similar to vegetarian diets but they restrict all meat, eggs, dairy and other sources of animal products like honey.
Gluten-free and vegan diets cannot use meat, eggs, wheat or dairy for protein sources so they must use alternative protein sources instead. Beans and lentils are both gluten-free and vegan. Tofu is also vegan and gluten-free, as long as it does not have any gluten-containing seasonings like soy sauce. According to the Vegetarian Resource Group, 4 ounces of tofu contains 10.6 grams of protein. It is possible to get enough protein on a gluten-free, vegan diet, but extra planning is essential.
Grains are a large portion of the vegan diet, but gluten-free vegan diets restrict grains like wheat, barley and rye. The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse states that grains like amaranth, tapioca, corn, buckwheat and quinoa are all acceptable on gluten-free diets. These grains also contain protein, vitamins and minerals. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states that many people on gluten-free diets can tolerate pure oats, but oats are often processed with gluten-containing grains. Look for gluten-free oats at your grocery store.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables make up the largest portion of the gluten-free, vegan diet, because all fruits and vegetables are naturally gluten-free and vegan. Fruits like apples, bananas and raisins make excellent snacks for vegans on gluten-free diets. Vegetables like kale, spinach and broccoli can also make up for nutrients like calcium, which is hard to get due to the lack of dairy in the gluten-free diet for vegans. Processed fruits and vegetables, especially varieties packed in sauces, may contain gluten, so read the ingredients list carefully before buying.