When I tell someone I’m vegan I’m met with “What do you eat?!” Then comes the bombardment of “Where do you get your protein?” and concerns for my health. Add into this mix the fact I have coeliac disease (I can’t eat gluten) and their expression turns from confusion to pure horror.
I have no choice about not being able to eat gluten. Being vegan on the other hand is purely by choice. It may surprise you that as a vegan coeliac I eat A LOT more than when I was a regular omnivore.
Being a vegan coeliac increased my food choices
For as long as I can remember, I was an INCREDIBLY fussy eater. I’m talking about spending hours eating because I picked out the few ingredients I actually liked. Beans? No thanks. How about tomatoes? Only if they’re in the form of tomato ketchup. My food preferences were so limited that I’m sure my parents found it a daily struggle to feed me.
Then came the diagnosis of coeliac disease. Initially, I was heart-broken and spent hours crying on the phone to my mum about how I wouldn’t be able to get Greg’s sausage rolls or Subways ever again. As condolence, my parents took me out for Indian food and I remember my horror at realising I could no longer eat naan bread. They convinced me that I should try the rice, and, at 20 years old I begrudgingly order rice with my curry.
A year later I was considering going vegan after doing a lot of research into why people would even consider giving up cheese. I educated myself about the environmental impact of the meat and dairy industry, the health benefits of eating a balanced vegan diet, and all about the mistreatment of agricultural animals. My mindset around veganism changed and I became determined to prove the naysays wrong.
BOOOOM. A whole new world of food opened up. Aubergine, Courgette, onions, bananas, granola and much more, that used to be on my ‘do not come near me with those things’ list, became an integral part of my diet. I went from a vegetable phobia to craving them all hours of the day.
So, what do I actually eat?
I’m going to humour you and actually answer this.
I eat so damn much. It’s ridiculous how much food I can shovel down my throat. For those genuinely interested in a vegan diet, there are so many options. Adding in coeliac does make it slightly complicated because seitan and other breaded fake meats are out of the question. This obstacle just makes me more creative and determined.
I eat an ungodly amount of oatmeal. Not just boring old oats and milk, I mean fully loaded dessert oats for breakfast. I add chocolate, berries, almond butter, nuts, dates, maple syrup, bananas – I’ll put anything that tastes good on my oatmeal.
Smoothies are the PERFECT summer morning breakfast. And you know what’s better than smoothies? Smoothie bowls. As with oatmeal, I top my smoothie with everything and anything. My favourites are almond butter and granola but top with whatever your heart desires.
These are just two staples but I also make incredible pancakes and cooked breakfasts. I’m basically a breakfast queen and being a vegan coeliac shone a light on this skill.
Dinner (or lunch for everyone not from the North of England.)
Honestly, I usually eat breakfast so late that I’m a brunch everyday kind of girl. When I do have time for lunch I ADORE avocado on toast (this is something that made me vomit 3 years ago when my little omnivore self tried the new craze). I obviously have to get gluten-free bread which most people would turn their nose up at, but I’m used to it.
Tea (Dinner – it’s kinda confusing I know).
This is where it gets exciting again. The list of possibilities is quite possibly endless. Basically, anything you could think of to eat, you can make a vegan equivalent of. My go to’s are Buddha Bowls because you can add in whatever is in your kitchen and it’ll be tasty. Sweet potatoes and roasted veggies are another staple, as is plantain.
How I really thrive as a vegan coeliac.
The main way I thrive as a vegan coeliac is because the diet opened up my world.
I eat foods I would never have dreamed of eating 3 years ago. It’s exciting to cook and create my old favourites. and I can share my passion with other people.
This diet also changing my entire mindset. I found this compassion that must have been buried deep inside. I see animals as equals and the love I have for them is sometimes overwhelming. On top of this, I discovered that I am crazy passionate about the environment. It’s made my yoga and meditation practice mean so much more to me and it’s helped increase my self-love. Being diagnosed with coeliac disease taught me how to overcome perceived ”hardships” and becoming vegan taught me that I am capable of anything.
Crazy that a diet can do that right?