If you are a vegan and have just been diagnosed with celiac there is no reason why you would have to start eating meat again.
If you are on a gluten free diet and wish to reduce or eliminate animal products from your diet, that is possible also.
Whereas a vegetarian may still eat cheese and eggs a vegan, or strict vegetarian will not.
Other animal food products such as eggs, milk, gelatine, honey, animal fats and rennet will also be off the menu. Add celiac to the mix and in addition, wheat, barley and rye will need to be avoided.
You might be worried that with all these restrictions it is going to cost a fortune. However there is no need for it to be expensive. In fact meat is usually more costly than plant foods so your grocery bill might well be lower especially if, like me, you opt for vegetables that are in season.
But what about the time it takes to prepare and cook non-meat based meals?
If you have been used to popping pre-prepared meals into the microwave and sitting down to eat them minutes later, then yes, this way of life may take a little longer. But it will certainly be healthier and there are ways to streamline things.
There is no need to be worried about getting enough protein as long as you eat a variety of items from the list of high protein foods and enough calories to provide energy. If you start worrying about combining proteins and carbohydrates in the correct proportions, you may find the diet confusing and difficult, when it needn't be.
You may have been brought up to consider that a meal consists of meat, two veggies and a glass of milk, perhaps accompanied by a thick slice of bread. In fact without the meat portion a meal might seem incomplete, a reasoning that meat producers are keen to endorse - after all they want to continue selling their produce!
In fact. the normal western diet generally consists of too much protein, and along with it too many refined carbohydrates.
We have come to look on bread. and other baked goods. as an essential part of our daily requirements when, in fact, grains were not a part of man's original diet back in the paleolithic times.
Transitioning to a gluten free, vegan diet may therefore take some getting used to, but it will pay dividends for your health in many ways.
So what can you eat to replace the protein you used to get from meat?
One product that may come to mind immediately is tofu, or soy bean curd. This has the added benefits of being low in calories, cholesterol free and easy to digest. Before you run a mile, saying that tofu is bland, that is actually one of its greatest assets! It means that it can absorb any kind of flavoring that you care to add making it very versatile.
There is also research that claims soy foods can help reduce certain types of cancer, including breast cancer. This is said to be due to the levels of phytoestrogens called isoflavones contained within the beans.
Other beans, or pulses, are widely used in vegan and vegetarian diets.
If you are introducing these for the first time, however, be aware that you may suffer increased flatulence or bloating due to their high fibre content, so take it slowly. You might want to start with those considered more digestible, such as adzuki beans, split peas and lentils.
You might also like to check out my tasty recipe for mexican dip made with beans.
Some plant-based foods are actually known as complete proteins. This is because they contain all 8 essential amino acids. One example is quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) which luckily for us, is also gluten free!
In a non-vegan diet, milk is one of the major sources of calcium. If you are going to cut this food out of your diet then you will need to find a replacement to protect against the possibility of Calcium deficiency.
Avoid Rice Dream, as the manufacturer uses barley to polish the rice, rendering it non-gluten-free.
Eggs can be replaced by alternatives such as flax seed, arrowroot, tofu, apple sauce or commercial egg replacer. Which you use depends on what type of cooking you are doing.
When baking try grinding 3 teaspoons flax seeds in a coffee grinder and whisking into boiling water. Then leave it to stand for 5 minutes before using in place of the eggs.
If you have been diagnosed with coeliac, sticking to a rigid gluten free diet for life is the only thing that will help you to recover.
There are health advantages to becoming a vegan, in addition to this.
A vegan diet is low in fat and higher in fibre than a "normal" diet, which helps to reduce obesity, heart disease and high blood pressure.
It can also help you to avoid certain bowel cancers, a disease that undiagnosed coeliacs are more at risk of, than the general population. Reducing your chances of diet related diabetes is also important as type 2 diabetes often goes hand in hand with coeliac.
If you have decided that becoming a gluten free vegan or vegetarian is the way forward for you, please remember to contact your dietician first. Then you can look forward to a healthier way of life.
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