Everyone can be vegan but if you have allergies it will, of course, take a little more planning to ensure you get what you need, and not the things you really mustn’t have.
- Let’s start with gluten…
One in a hundred people have coeliac disease and suffer digestive and other problems if they eat gluten, but it is thought that there could be many more people who are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. The good news is that there are lots of gluten-free vegans in the world, and consequently an ever-increasing range of gluten-free vegan foods. A great place to start is your local supermarket’s ‘free-from’ section where you will find breads, pizza bases, and flour to make your own baked goods. You’ll also find various kinds of pasta and sauces, including in some shops a white lasagne sauce that is both vegan and gluten-free. They also stock breakfast cereals, snacks to eat on the go – such as falafel and rice noodle pots – soups, and ready meals, including Fajita kits. In the frozen food sections, there are various chips and other potato products, as well as some burgers and bakes. You’ll also find gluten-free ketchup, soya sauce, and Worcester sauce. Many of the cheeses are also suitable. Just check the packaging or the website of your supermarket to see which ones.
Most plant milks are suitable for those on a gluten-free diet, too, and Alpro’s whole range (apart from oat milk) is gluten-free. Yoghurts, custard and a host of tasty goods including Lazy Days range (Millionaire’s Shortbread, Tiffin, Rocky Road Slice) are all suitable, too. If you’re a fan of a pud, Pudology and Food Heaven are great brands to look out for, and Moo Free chocolates are a) amazing and b) gluten-free and vegan.
There are so many more options that we don’t have space for, and healthfood stores will stock a lot more, too. It’s worth befriending your local health food store owner and having a peruse through their buyers’ catalogues. Often, they’ll order something in especially for you if you ask.
Finally, if you’re cooking from scratch, there are a host of gluten-free vegan recipes online. But the best place to start is our Gluten-Free Meal Plan.
Most allergic reactions to nuts are mild but for those with a severe allergy, and those who would rather not develop a rash after eating, avoiding nuts is essential. Debate rages about why this particular allergy is on the increase but we are not here to conjecture. We’re here to show you that, allergy or no, being vegan is both possible and enjoyable!
The advice above for gluten-free vegans stands true for nut-free vegans, too although it is probably easier to avoid nuts in everyday foods than it is gluten. Read labels. Check websites. But the foods where nuts are most likely to be lurking are baked goods, sauces, ice cream and veggie burgers. The good news is that there are lots of options in all these categories that are both vegan and nut-free. We won’t list them. You’ll be here all day. (But check out these brands for starters: Alpro, Amy’s Kitchen, BFree, Clive’s Pies, Coyo, Dove’s Farm, Free and Easy, Goody Good Stuff, Heavenly Cake Company, Hovis, Kettle Chips, Kingsmill, Koko, Marigold, Oat Dream, Oreo, Plamil, Pom-Bear, Robinsons.)
Again, when cooking at home, check out our Nut-Free Meal Plan!
- Let’s talk beans…
Allergic reactions are thankfully rare but if beans are not your bag, we’d have to ask: are you sure? That is because there are so many kinds that if you don’t like one, you may well like another. A freshly-picked runner bean is very different to a canned kidney bean. And some are more digestible and, let’s face it, less aromatically noxious than others. Chickpeas, lentils, green peas and mung beans are easier to digest than soya (edamame), kidney or black beans. So, as our vegan friend Prince once said: open your heart, open your mind, and you may be surprised how tasty certain beans are. (He didn’t say that last bit.)
But for those who absolutely cannot have a bean of any kind make sure you include in your diet seeds, nuts, greens and grains for proteins, and plenty of green vegetables, figs, sweet potato and squash for calcium. And soya milk, yoghurts and tofu too (although that is just a sneaky way of getting you to eat some beans).