A gluten-free, vegan diet may sound like a good option to lose weight and improve your health.
Approximately 65% of American adults surveyed believed that gluten-free foods were healthier, and 27% reported they chose gluten-free products to help with weight loss, according to one study (
Similarly, a study in 329 people looked into why participants following a vegan diet chose the diet. It found that 69% did so to improve their health or personal well-being (
However, is combining the gluten-free and vegan eating patterns healthy, safe, or beneficial?
It depends on your needs. This diet is very restrictive, so you need to plan carefully to make sure you get all the nutrients you need. Also, going gluten-free may not be beneficial for you if you don’t have celiac disease or another gluten-related disorder.
This article explores the factors to help you figure out whether a gluten-free, vegan diet is right for you.
A gluten-free, vegan diet combines gluten-free and vegan eating patterns.
As in the gluten-free diet, it excludes any foods that contain gluten, which is a type of protein found in wheat, rye, and barley (
That means on the diet you’re not allowed to eat any foods made from wheat — such as bread, pasta, and baked goods — along with many types of beer, sauces, soups, tortillas, crackers, and cereals.
Similarly, as in a vegan diet, it eliminates all animal products, including meat, fish, and poultry. You should also avoid other foods derived from animals, such as eggs, honey, dairy products, and gelatin (
Instead, a gluten-free, vegan diet should focus on fruits, vegetables, plant-based proteins, and whole grains that are naturally gluten-free, such as:
- brown rice
A gluten-free, vegan diet eliminates all animal products and foods that contain gluten. Instead, it should include a variety of fruits, vegetables, plant-based proteins, and gluten-free whole grains.
There are strict guidelines for which foods you should eat and avoid while following a gluten-free, vegan diet.
Foods to eat
A gluten-free, vegan diet should include a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and plant-based proteins.
Gluten-free grains are also permitted, such as quinoa, oats, and brown rice.
Here are some foods that you can eat on a gluten-free, vegan diet:
- Fruits: apples, oranges, pears, peaches, berries, bananas, melons
- Vegetables: potatoes, onions, broccoli, spinach, kale, cauliflower
- Legumes: chickpeas, lentils, black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans
- Plant-based proteins: tempeh, tofu, nutritional yeast, edamame
- Nuts: almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, macadamia nuts
- Nut butters: peanut butter, almond butter, sunflower butter, cashew butter
- Seeds: chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seed, sunflower seeds
- Gluten-free whole grains: quinoa, oats, brown rice, buckwheat, amaranth, sorghum
- Healthy fats: olive oil, avocados, coconut oil, safflower oil, sesame oil
- Herbs and spices: black pepper, oregano, turmeric, thyme, rosemary, chili powder
- Beverages: water, coffee, tea, coconut water, kombucha
Note that some foods may be processed in a facility that also handles ingredients that contain gluten, such as oats (
If you have celiac disease or another gluten-related disorder, it’s best to opt for products that are certified gluten-free whenever possible to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
Foods to avoid
You should avoid animal products and foods that contain gluten on a gluten-free, vegan diet.
Here are some specific foods to avoid:
- Meat: beef, pork, deer, lamb, veal
- Seafood: salmon, tuna, mackerel, trout, shrimp, crabs, oysters
- Poultry: chicken, turkey, geese, ducks
- Eggs: whole eggs, egg yolks, egg whites
- Dairy products: cheese, milk, yogurt, butter
- Grains: wheat bread, pasta, tortillas, pita bread, couscous, rye bread, rye flour, barley
- Baked goods: cakes, cookies, pizzas, muffins, croissants
- Snack foods: crackers, pretzels, granola bars, candies, certain types of chips
- Sauces: salad dressings, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, pasta sauce, barbecue sauce
- Beverages: beer, lager, ale, malt beverages
Keep in mind that gluten-free and vegan versions are available for some of the foods above, such as plant-based milk alternatives or gluten-free breads or pastas.
However, it’s important to check the label carefully to ensure that products are free of gluten and animal products.
Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and plant-based proteins are great additions to a gluten-free, vegan diet. On the other hand, on this diet you should avoid all animal products and foods that contain gluten.
A gluten-free, vegan diet may be associated with several benefits.
Relieves symptoms of celiac disease
A gluten-free, vegan diet can be beneficial for people who have celiac disease or another gluten-related disorder, such as non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
This is because gluten consumption causes negative symptoms for people with these conditions, including digestive issues, unintentional weight loss, or nutritional deficiencies (
Therefore, a gluten-free diet is recommended to prevent adverse symptoms and complications associated with gluten consumption for these individuals (
While there is limited research on the gluten-free, vegan diet specifically, some older studies have found that it could be effective for promoting weight loss and reducing body mass index (BMI) (
Additionally, multiple studies have found that vegan diets have been associated with increased weight loss and decreased body fat (
According to one review, this could be attributed to several factors, including reduced calorie intake, improved gut health, and increased insulin sensitivity (
On the other hand, some studies have found that following a gluten-free diet could actually lead to weight gain in people with celiac disease (
Though research is lacking on the effects of a gluten-free diet for people without celiac disease, you shouldn’t use it for weight loss unless a healthcare professional advises you to do so. It can be very restrictive and may increase the risk of nutritional deficiencies (
Prevention of chronic diseases
Vegan diets may be linked to a lower risk of several chronic conditions.
In fact, some research suggests that plant-based diets could be associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and metabolic syndrome (
Furthermore, vegan diets eliminate red meat and processed meat, both of which have been tied to an increased risk of developing certain types of cancer (
However, though some studies have found that vegan diets could be beneficial for disease prevention, more research is needed to evaluate the effects of a gluten-free, vegan diet specifically.
Gluten-free, vegan diets may help reduce symptoms associated with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. They also have potential to help with weight loss and protect against certain chronic conditions, but more research is needed.
Many foods are eliminated on a gluten-free, vegan diet, including some that are highly nutritious, such as eggs, dairy, fatty fish, and whole grains that contain gluten.
Because many nutrient-dense ingredients are excluded on a vegan diet, careful planning is required to ensure that you’re getting enough iodine, zinc, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin B12 (
Similarly, many packaged gluten-free foods are higher in fat, carbs, and calories compared with their gluten-containing counterparts. They’re also often lower in protein, fiber, iron, potassium, and zinc (
A gluten-free diet is necessary for people with celiac disease or other gluten-related disorders, such as non-celiac gluten sensitivity. However, a gluten-free, vegan diet can be very restrictive and difficult to follow.
Because of the potential risks and challenges associated with the gluten-free diet, it is not typically recommended unless medically necessary (
On a gluten-free, vegan diet you can’t eat many nutrient-dense foods. This may increase your risk of nutritional deficiencies. The diet can also be very restrictive, and you shouldn’t eliminate gluten unless a healthcare professional has recommended it.
If you have celiac disease or another gluten-related disorder, such as non-celiac gluten sensitivity, a gluten-free diet may help ease symptoms and prevent long-term negative effects on health.
However, healthcare professionals don’t recommend a gluten-free diet if you don’t have these health conditions because it could increase your risk of nutritional deficiencies (
Vegan diets can also be very restrictive and may make it more challenging to meet your needs.
Additionally, fortified foods or supplements are often necessary to provide nutrients that may be lacking in a vegan diet, such as vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids, and iron (
If you do decide to try a gluten-free, vegan diet, consider consulting with a doctor or registered dietitian first. A healthcare professional can help develop a plan to ensure that you’re getting all of the vitamins and minerals you need to prevent negative health effects.
Vegan diets can be very restrictive, and gluten-free diets are mainly for those with celiac disease or another gluten-related disorder. If you do decide to try a gluten-free, vegan diet, consult with a healthcare professional first.
Here is a 3-day sample meal plan for a gluten-free, vegan diet.
- Breakfast: tofu scramble with black beans, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, and salsa
- Lunch: edamame spaghetti with mushroom sauce
- Dinner: lentil stew with onions, garlic, potatoes, celery, and carrots
- Snack: sliced apple with peanut butter
- Breakfast: coconut yogurt with fresh berries and chia seeds
- Lunch: quinoa salad with chickpeas, bell peppers, onions, cucumbers, and olive oil
- Dinner: baked tempeh with brown rice, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and red cabbage
- Snack: smoothie with vegan protein powder, bananas, almond milk, and spinach
- Breakfast: gluten-free oats with nut butter, banana, and walnuts
- Lunch: veggie burger with gluten-free bun and sweet potato fries
- Dinner: burrito bowl with brown rice, beans, tomatoes, onions, guacamole, and salsa
- Snack: roasted chickpeas
The sample menu outlined above includes some ideas for meals and snacks you can eat on a gluten-free, vegan diet.
A gluten-free, vegan diet eliminates all animal products and foods that contain gluten.
Though a gluten-free diet can reduce symptoms of celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders, it is not necessary for people without these conditions.
Similarly, vegan diets can be very restrictive and require careful planning to meet your nutritional needs.
If a health professional has recommended a gluten-free diet for you, consider pairing it with another more flexible eating pattern instead, such as a vegetarian, flexitarian, or plant-based diet.
Additionally, be sure to talk with a healthcare professional before trying this diet to ensure it will meet your nutritional needs. If not, they may recommend you take supplements.