It can be challenging to be a vegetarian and follow a gluten-free lifestyle. However, it is possible! Depending on the degree of dietary restriction as well as varied individual food choices, some people who are both gluten-free and vegetarian may require the use of fortified foods or supplements to ensure adequate intakes of certain nutrients-especially vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron, and zinc. On the plus side, vegetarianism tends to naturally incorporate more vegetables and fruits into the diet, foods which most people need more of.
Restricted Foods (& Their Nutrients) in Vegetarian and Gluten-free Diets
Did you know…?
- Many gluten-free grains, including amaranth, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, sorghum, teff, and wild rice, contain higher levels of protein than wheat.
- Quinoa, specifically, is a complete protein that is a great whole grain to use.
- Gluten-free flours made from whole grains, seeds and beans, such as quinoa, teff, flaxmeal, almond, hazelnut, fava bean and garbanzo bean are highly nutritious and can be used to provide additional sources of iron, calcium, and B vitamins to a vegetarian diet.
- The soybean is a fabulous highly versatile food that is naturally gluten-free and a high quality protein source.
- Processed soy products (and other “meat alternatives”) are often gluten-free, but read ingredient labels carefully to be sure.
- Malabsorption of vitamin D and calcium are common in advanced and untreated celiac disease and can lead to bone disease (osteopenia, osteoporosis, osteomalacia). Vegans need to be especially careful to include sufficient levels of these nutrients.
- Non-dairy sources of calcium include: leafy greens (except spinach and swiss chard), calcium-set tofu, nuts, seeds, teff, amaranth and calcium-fortified non-dairy milk products.
- A vegetarian, gluten-free diet eliminates many of the major sources of iron in a typical diet. However, dried beans and leafy greens are good sources. Enhance iron absorption by pairing these with vitamin C-rich foods, such as tomatoes, bell peppers or citrus.
- Zinc absorption is enhanced by animal proteins and therefore is often needed in supplemental form by vegetarians. This nutrient is also found in some vegetarian gluten-free foods like wild rice, teff, pumpkin/squash seeds, and navy beans.