Search This Blog


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Tips for Going Vegan & Gluten Free

It's a new year, so how about a new you? If you (or your loved one) has been considering going vegan or gluten free ( or both at once, like  did!) for a while, and now you are sure, then I would like to help you get started! It is time to claim your health back! Help the animals! Save the planet!  It is far better for your health, and the sake of animals because, frankly it is cruel to consume animals when we don't need them to survive. We can easily get everything we need nutritionally without involving a living, feeling, thinking creature much like ourselves.  Gluten is something we choose not to consume purely for health reasons, and hopefully both being gluten free and vegan is a lifelong choice for you. Both are a choice, a good choice, and my purpose is to support you on your journey.


Manufacturers often use gluten or wheat flour to aid the manufacturing process for non-food items, e.g. as fillers, lubricants or absorbents. Cosmetics and skin care products usually have hidden gluten in them in the form of wheat proteins, which cannot be absorbed through the skin, but if on your hands or lips may find their way into your mouth  and make you sick! Finding certified gluten free lipstick such as found at - which is also vegan and paraben free, should be a priority.

Hidden Gluten in Prescription and Over-the-counter Medications:

Sources of hidden gluten in medicine

  • Pills
  • Capsules
  • Cough syrups
  • Cough lozenges
  • Vitamins
  • Mineral supplements

Hidden Gluten in Cosmetics and Toiletries:

  • Make-up
  • Lipstick
  • Lip gloss
  • Lip balm
  • Toothpaste
  • Mouthwash
  • Soaps
  • Bath salts
  • Baby powder
  • Lotions and creams
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Sunscreen

Sources of Gluten in Household items:

  • Cleaning liquids
  • Detergents
  • Latex or rubber gloves
  • Stamps, envelopes, stickers (glue)

Other Potential Sources of Hidden Gluten:

  • Chewing gum
  • Communion wafers
  • Pet food
  • Play-dough
  • Art supplies, e.g. paints, glue, clay


  1. Read ingredient labels carefully. Be very cautious if the product is a new or improved formulation.
  2. Don’t be afraid to call the manufacturer to determine whether a product may contain gluten. Their phone number is usually listed on the package.
  3. Talk with your doctor, dentist and pharmacist to make sure they understand your gluten-free needs.
  4. Young children are prone to putting their fingers or other items in their mouth, so monitor them closely if they are sensitive to gluten.
  5. Make sure teachers and child-care providers are knowledgeable regarding your child’s needs.
  6. Wash your hands if you may have touched a gluten-contaminated surface.

Useful Links for Finding Hidden Gluten:

 Current list of available gluten-free medications compiled by a clinical pharmacist

Hlywiak, K.H. Hidden Sources of Gluten. Practical Gastroenterology (2008) 32(9): 27-38

Very important: Refer to the section on reading labels, below the "Going Vegan section. I put all of the ingredients there that you need to watch for, but to be safest, only buy products labeled GLUTEN FREE and produced in a dedicated GLUTEN FREE FACILITY. If it doesn't say it on the back of the label, call the company to ask! 


Animal products are prolific in many common non-food items too. 
If you goal is to eventually eliminate use and consumption of animals in as many sources as you can, consider checking your bathroom cabinets, medicine cabinet, closet, and cleaning supplies. Find out what companies do not use animals by-products, and which companies do not test on animals, and begin replacing items over time with cruelty free products. Peta has a wonderful tool for locating these: Cruelty free Search.  Cosmetics and skin care products also very often contain animal derivatives, such as gelatin in capsules, Musk Oil (obtained inhumanely and painfully from muskrats, beavers, and caged, beaten wildcats for the perfume industry; Premarin (artificial estrogen hormone therapy obtained from caged pregnant horses); Elastin (neck ligaments and aortas of cows) found in cosmetics; and Hyaluronic protein (derived from umbilical cords and joint fluid of animals). Animal by-products grossed more than 2 billion dollars last year alone, sold to the cosmetics industry. Purchasing goods that contain animal ingredients supports the meat industry who for decades has been lying and deceiving us, and cares nothing about our health or the well being of the animal agriculture it preys upon. There is also the whole animal testing controversy, that for some is reason enough for becoming vegan. 
Having said all of that, I will confine the rest of this post just to our food,  because there are reasons on every level why being vegan is the right thing to do, I trust that you can locate all of that information on the mighty interwebs.

There is so much information on being vegan and gluten free, so many rules, and so much food that it could make you dizzy thinking about it! So I have put together a few tips to get you started. The main thing to remember is to be gentle with yourself! If you discover after cooking or eating something that it contained a forbidden ingredient, it isn't the end of the world. Simply begin again!

Eating gluten free and vegan has few overlaps, usually in the 'fake meat' area. I will not be able to address every possible point for being 100% gluten free and vegan, that would require an entire book, but I can cover the basics!

Vegan eating means:

  • No meat: no beef, chicken, pork, game, turkey, fish, escargot, whale, squid, etc. Nothing that had a face or a mom! (and if you don't know, don't eat it!)
  • No dairy products: no cheese, no butter, no yogurt, no dairy of any kind whether it is cow, goat, sheep, or whatever.  
  • No eggs: not from free range chicken, home grown emu, and not caviar. None.
6 Quick Tips for Substitutions

1. Dairy :
  • Purchase or make at home plant milks, and use exactly as you would dairy in recipes or in your glass. Almond milk, Soy milk, Rice milk, Flax milk, Hemp milk and Coconut milk are are wonderful and have a variety of flavors from vanilla, chocolate and plain to try.
  • Purchase or make at home nut cheeses or soy cheese. Two of my favorite and best tasting brands are Daiya and Teese. Read labels very carefully; many "vegetarian" cheeses still contain dairy, and sometimes gluten (wheat flour used as a thickener). There are also vegan cream cheeses such as Tofutti, which is amazing!
  • Try the plethora of ice cream made from plant milk, or make your own if you have an ice cream maker! You can find dozens of brands and flavors that will delight your palate.
  • Vegan yogurts made with soy or coconut milk are delicious, and easily make sour cream if you add a dab of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar!
  • There are a few dairy free margarines, my favorite, hands down, is Earth Balance (non GMO and all organic too). 
  • You can even make your own egg-free mayo, or buy one. I prefer Veganaise by Follow Your Heart.
2. Hamburgers:
  • Make your own veggie patties (tons of recipes on the web) or purchase premade. Amy's and Dom Lee Farms are two tasty brands that make a vegan, gluten free patty. Read labels very carefully, egg and gluten are extremely common in other brands!
  • Portabella caps (the huge ones) make outstanding patties for your burger! Cook them in a skillet and when tender, put on your gluten free bun or eat without bread on a plate with all your favorite trimmings (don't forget to substitute regular mayo with Veganaise or homemade mayo that's egg free!)
3. Hot Dogs:
  • Again, you have to read labels carefully, many "fake" hot dogs may be free of meat but not egg, dairy, or gluten. The brand I like is Lightife Smart Dogs which are vegan and gluten free, and tastes better than the cruelty dogs I ate in the past!
4. Cold Cuts: 
  • There are many meat-free versions out there if you are determined to have a sandwich, but personally, I gave up before I ever found one that is non GMO and gluten free. With the never ending quest for a soft, delicious gluten free, vegan bread complicating the matter, traditional sandwiches have disappeared from my menu. I would rather have portabella mushrooms and shredded veggies in a collard wrap any day over a crumbly, crusty, tasteless slab with a soy based slice of processed gunk. Why do we need sandwiches when we can have healthy wraps? The world of sandwiches begins to evolve with us!
5. Meat Substitutes
  • Meatless substitutions ("fake meat") are becoming increasingly popular and easy to find. Some brands can be found without dairy, egg, or gluten, but it is rare, mostly because of gluten! You see, wheat, specifically seitan, makes an incredibly "meat-like' texture that is also a source of protein, and can be made into any known shape and flavored in any way. Truth be told, I never had any of them, and rely strictly on beans, lentils,vegetables, nuts, seeds, and occasionally non-GMO miso, tofu, or tempeh for high protein dishes. Many brands like MorningStar always contain eggs, so be careful. 
  • As mentioned previously,  Amy's and Dom Lee Farms are two tasty brands that make a vegan, gluten free patty that can be crumbled into foods like spaghetti sauce , tacos, or tofu scramble.
  • Bacos are vegan and gluten free!
6. Eggs
  • Fantastic Foods Tofu Scrambler and The Vegg are great tasting products to use in recipes where you really want the egg taste (like French Toast). 
  • For recipes, you need to know how the egg is being used to determine the best egg substitute. It could be 1)a binder, to make things stick together; 2)it could be a rising agent (always is in the case of cakes, bread, or cookies); or it could be 3) just for the moisture content.  Choose your method of egg substitution based on that.
Vegan egg replacement in recipes:

  1. Ener-G Egg replacer as directed on the box, (rising agent) 
  2. 1 Tbsp. of either ground flax seed or whole chia seed dissolved in 3 Tbsp warm water (and let set 5-10 mins) for every egg called for (moisture and binder) NOTE:I also add 1 Tbsp baking powder to breads and cakes along with my seed mixtures for rising
  3. 1/2 mashed banana for each egg called for (moisture and binder) 
  4. 1 Tbsp cornstarch plus 2 Tbsp water (thickener/binder)
  5. Beyond Eggs by Hampton Creek, tastes and acts like real eggs and is vegan and gluten free.  


It sounds easy enough so far, right? If only! We are not always treated to huge bold lettering on the front of packaging declaring an item VEGAN and GLUTEN FREE. Food manufacturers have become quite adept at hiding everything in everything! It is up to you to determine what is really in a food product, and it often takes more than the ability to read and some common sense. Fortunately in the U.S., the top 8 allergens must be listed in bold at the bottom of an ingredient list, just in case we miss it in the 30  or 40 unpronounceable words listed as ingredients. Among those 8 are milk, eggs, and wheat, which you will constantly be on the lookout for. Here is an example of a product ingredient list, and you can see that the allergy statement below the ingredient list brings to attention the wheat, even though it is listed in the ingredients.

Here are some terms or ingredients indicating the presence of dairy:

  • Artificial butter flavor
  • Butter
  • Butter fat
  • Butter oil
  • Buttermilk
  • Casein
  • Caseinates
  • Cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Cream
  • Curd
  • Custaed
  • Ghee
  • Goat's milk
  • Half & Half
  • Hydrolysates
  • Kefir
  • Koumiss
  • Lactoalbumin
  • Lactoalbumin phosphate
  • Lactoglobulin
  • Lactoferrin
  • Lactose
  • Lactulose
  • Milk
  • Milkfat
  • Nougat
  • Paneer
  • Pudding
  • Recaldent
  • Rennet
  • Sour cream
  • Sour milk
  • Whey (in any form)
  • Yogurt

These are the ingredients that MAY contain milk:

  • Chocolate
  • "Flavorings" (artificial or natural)
  • High protein 
  • Margarine
  • Simplesse
  • Starter Distillate

Here are some terms or ingredients indicating the presence of egg:

  • AlbuminApovitellin
  • Egg substitute (made from egg white)
  • Egg
  • Egg yolk
  • Dried egg
  • Egg wash
  • Eggnog
  • Fat substitutes
  • Globulin
  • Livetin
  • Lysozyme
  • Mayonnaise
  • Meringue, meringue powder
  • Ovalbumin
  • ovoglobulin
  • Ovomucin
  • Ovomucoid
  • Ovotransferin
  • Ovovitelia
  • Powdered egg
  • Silici albuminate
  • Simplesse
  • Trailblazer
  • Vitelin

Ingredients that indicate the food MAY contain egg:

  • Artificial flavoring
  • Lecithen
  • Natural flavoring
  • Nougat

Now for the other ingredients, in addition to recognizable "meat" names, indicating a product contains something made of animals that we have not covered above:

  • Beef tallow
  • Cochineal/Carmine (coloring agent made from beetles)
  • Oleic acid (fat of sheep or cattle)
  • Calcium Stearate (derived from hogs and cattle)
  • Gelatin (made from animal bones, cartilage, tendons, and skin) found in Jell-O, supplement capsules, marshmallows, and candy
  • Glycerides (mono, di, tri;  glycerol from animal fat)
  • Stearic acid (animal fats and oils)
  • Lard (from pig stomachs)
  • Lecithin (phospholipids often from animal tissues or eggs)
  • Lipase (enzyme derived from the stomachs and tongues of calves, kids, and lambs)
  • Pepsin (enzyme gathered from pig stomachs)
*MORE ON AVOIDING GLUTEN: Here are the ingredients that indicate a product contains gluten:  
To be safest, Always, always look for a clear GLUTEN FREE label and the statement that the flour or product is made in a dedicated gluten free facility. If it doesn't say it on the back of the label, call the company to ask! 

  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Triticale
  • Wheat (durum, graham, kamut, semolina, spelt)
  • Malt, malt flavoring, malt vinegar (are generally made from barley, verify the source
  • Flour, cake mix, and cookie mix can be cross contaminated because the manufacturers of sorghum flour for example, also make barley flour. 
The following is a list of foods that do not contain gluten, but are frequently cross contaminated for reasons just stated, and you should be careful of:
  • TVP (textured vegetable protein)
  • Oats (all kinds: instant, quick, rolled, steel cut) UNLESS LABELED GLUTEN FREE AND MANUFACTURED IN A GLUTEN FREE FACILITY
Labels must be read every time foods are purchased. Manufacturers can change ingredients at any time. As of 2006, wheat used in products will be identified on the label and cannot be obscurely labeled, but not so of other glutens. You may verify ingredients by calling or writing a food manufacturer and specifying the ingredients and the lot number of the food in question. State your needs clearly – be patient, persistent and polite.
According to
Frequently overlooked foods that may contain gluten and need to be verified:

  • Brown rice syrup
  • Breading & coating mixes
  • Croutons
  • Energy Bars
  • Flour or cereal products
  • Imitation bacon
  • Imitation seafood
  • Marinades
  • Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • Pastas
  • Processed luncheon meats
  • Sauces, gravies
  • Self-basting poultry
  • Soy sauce or soy sauce solids
  • Soup bases
  • Stuffings, dressing
  • Thickeners (Roux)
  • Communion wafers
  • Herbal supplements
  • Drugs & over-the-counter medications
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Vitamins & mineral supplements
  • Play-dough: a potential problem if hands are put on or in the mouth while playing with play-dough. 
  • Hands should be washed immediately after use
If In Doubt Go Without!

Final 5 Quick Tips 
for Going Vegan & Gluten Free

1. Think globally, eat locally
Foods from other cultures have many vegan options, or vegetarian ones that can be made vegan. 
Here are some ideas: 
  • Chinese: veggie stir fry, garlic eggplant, fried tofu (no flour!)
  • Thai: veggie pad thai, coconut curry
  • Mediterranean: Hummus, baba ganoush, stuffed grape leaves, jasmine rice, roasted veggie bowl
  • Mexican: bean burritos (gf or corn tortillas) , veggie enchiladas, bean or veggie tacos
  • Japanese:  veggie sushi, edamame, miso soup
  • Indian:  dal, veggie samosas, chana masala, curries
 When ordering at a restaurant you will want to say to your server something like, "I don't eat meat, dairy, or eggs, please let me know if I order something containing those." Be polite and patient if they ask if you can eat chicken or fish, they just don't know and are being careful to clarify. You also need to use terms like "wheat allergy" to be sure your food is gluten free, some establishments regard gluten free as a fad, not a real health condition, and will not take special care in preparing your food. While your gut is healing in the first 6 months+, it is only safe to eat at restaurants that are certified 100% gluten free to be sure you are not accidentally "glutened" by accidental cross-contamination.

2. Visit veg-friendly establishments
Stores such as Whole Foods Market, Sprouts, Trader Joe's, and your local farmer's markets have abundant options for you!
Restaurants with veg options are increasing, and we should encourage them to expand their menus by patronizing them :) Be very careful of any restaurant that claims to have gluten free options, because unless it is a 100% certified gluten free facility, the chance of cross contamination is very high. 

3. Get at least one vegan cookbook 
From adaptations on the  traditional to exotic mouth watering recipes from around the world, these exciting new dishes are as close as the bookstore, library, or Amazon,com in hardback, paperback, or digiback! (digital)! Literally hundreds of thousands of recipes are a click away on websites such as and For the most part, going gluten free begins with purging your pantry and kitchen by reading every single label. Then you can rely on gluten free pasta for when you must have pasta, and test out the breads and wraps you find in the market  Eventually you will want to try a little baking, whether cakes, cookies or breads, fortunately Betty Crocker has a  gluten free line for the desserts, and they are super easy to make vegan, too! You can get a gluten free cookbook later. There are a couple of vegan, gluten free cookbooks out there, too!

4. Attitude!
Becoming vegan, or gluten free, or both, is a process. Don't expect your mental and physical changes to happen overnight. Give yourself time to develop new habits. We have been meat, dairy, egg, and gluten consumers our whole lives, so it will take time to adjust. Let the information settle in, as you make changes, one at a time, or all at once, your choice. Soon your new diet will become second nature as you learn where to find wonderful options. Having other vegans or gluten free friends helps too! Get involved with a local group and meet like minded friends. Remember, it is NOT about what you can't eat, it's all about the tons of food that you can eat!

The bottom line is this: stock your pantry carefully, and make your own whole foods at home, eat at home or pack a lunch, and you need not worry about what is in your food! 




  1. I have celiac disease and I think it's much too expensive and inconvenient for people without gluten sensitivities to go completely gluten-free for life if it isn't medically necessary.

  2. 3 Researches REVEAL How Coconut Oil Kills Belly Fat.

    The meaning of this is that you actually kill fat by eating coconut fats (also coconut milk, coconut cream and coconut oil).

    These 3 researches from big medicinal magazines are sure to turn the conventional nutrition world upside down!

  3. There's a chance you're qualified to get a $1,000 Amazon Gift Card.

  4. Do you love Pepsi or Coca-Cola?
    ANSWER THE POLL and you could receive a prepaid VISA gift card!

  5. eToro is the best forex broker for rookie and established traders.

  6. New Diet Taps into Innovative Concept to Help Dieters Get Rid Of 20 Pounds within Just 21 Days!

  7. BlueHost is ultimately the best web-hosting provider with plans for all of your hosting requirements.


Please leave a comment, I'd love to hear what you think!
~ Shelley