Eating vegan without soy or gluten

by Carolina

Most vegans eat a lot of soy products... how can you maintain a balanced diet if you are allergic to soy? You all substitute butter and milk with soy butter, soy milk what will I be able to eat and drink? I also cannot have wheat products because of my fibromyalgia. How can I benefit from a vegan diet when it appears I will not be able to maintain a proper diet?

Similar question submitted by Nani from USA:

I recently learned that tofu isn't so safe for us to consume and I cannot eat wheat or gluten. What burger/pseudo meat is left? I drink hemp & am really tired of it. I need a balanced diet (have malabsorption, ELS lupus, Mytral valve, & celiac). I do not take drugs and only use alternative and homeopathic remedies. Trying to keep on the alkaline side of life. Can you help?


Thank you both for your submissions. You both submitted a similar question on the same day, and I believe that's because it's a very popular concern. Many people worry about the soy content in vegan foods.

There is an ongoing debate about the healthfulness of soy. Some people take the position that all soy is bad, others differentiate between types of soy, and some think it's all incredibly healthy for you. Check out a page on the soy controversy and the discussion of whether soy is healthy.

I personally fall somewhere in between. I think the soy to avoid is the genetically modified soy that is grown mostly for livestock, and the processed soy that is added to processed foods (like soy lechitin, TVP, soy protein isolate, soy powders, etc).

Keep in mind that Asian cultures have been eating whole soy as their dominant protein for thousands of years (in the form of edamame beans, tofu, tempeh, and natto), and they never have had the health problems that Westerners have. From what I understand from my research, it appears that fermented soy products (tempeh, miso, natto, even soy sauce) are extremely healthy for us.

There is a common assumption that most vegans eat a lot of soy, but I've actually found that not to be the case at all. At my house we eat very little soy, and what we do eat is in whole forms like tempeh or tofu. The rest of our food does not have hidden soy in it, so I guarantee I eat less than 99% of "regular," non-vegan people in the Western world.

What's funny is that people eating meat-based diets actually consume more soy than those of us who stick to plant proteins, without ever realizing it. Processed, boxed, premade food, fast food, and other junk food is loaded with the bad, broken down soy protein isolates.

Vegans who eat whole, real food and balanced diets easily avoid soy altogether and find plenty of other options for both beverages and proteins. If you're looking for alternatives for milk, check out this page.

As far as butter substitutes, in many cases you can simply use another kind of oil. There are also soy-free vegan butter spreads if you prefer a solid oil, as well as coconut-based butters that are readily available at most markets.

As of right now, it seems we don't have a definite answer as to the benefits or drawbacks to soy, but I am sure within a few years we will get to the bottom of it. I would love to hear your opinion on the comments page.

I find being vegan and gluten-free a bit more difficult, mainly when traveling outside of the house. At home it's absolutely no problem to cook gluten-free grains and even bake my own vegan, gluten-free bread. However, if you don't have time to cook or travel more often, finding gluten-free options that are also vegan (many gluten-free breads have eggs in them) can be more difficult. As gluten-free cooking becomes more popular, I've found that all big cities have restaurants where you can find abundant options.

If you do enjoy cooking, you can find many recipes that are gluten-free and soy-free on the internet, and there are also plenty of vegan products on the market that follow both of these trends in food. All it takes is a bit of diligent label reading to find what you need.

I hope this helps! You can definitely eat vegan without eating soy or gluten, if that's what your health requires you to do.

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Eating vegan without soy or gluten
by: Anonymous

It's pretty easy just substitute beans, lentils, nuts or seeds for the soy and substitute rice for the gluten. Avoid anything processed no matter what it is. All you need to do is mix and match the incomplete proteins with each other. Eggplant and rice for example. Eggplant can substitute for meat but these fake hot dogs and sausages? Ew. Steer clear of that processed junk. Also you can make a hamburger with those huge mushrooms, they taste great. Why eat soy and drink hemp when you can have something tasty like a bowl of cereal with cashew milk? (Avoid the sugar milk, or make your own) You can make fried rice with mixed vegetables and add some nuts or seeds. Now loosing weight for a diet is another matter, you still have to limit food intake to some degree, but that's a whole different can of worms.

by: Deborah

Can I go vegan without eating corn wheat/gluten, and soy?

by: Anonymous

GREETINGS every body , i am MORRISON BELL from LONDON(UK). I was once diagnosed with LUPUS in September 2014. I back than i was having skin rashes all over my body, this was very unbearable to me , then life was without meaning to me due to my health status , i tried my possible best to get cured but all seems in vain, So all through those period of my life, i was unhappy.
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There is no debate on soy, for me.
by: Arletta

When I first moved to Arizona, which was in 2003, I had lost a lot of weight, even though I was eating things that are bad for everyone (fried chicken) and things that are definitely bad for me (ice cream, sour cream, cream cheese, other cheeses).

I think the reason I lost so much weight was that, for a brief period of time, I was living in an environment that was relatively stress free (I have cortisol problems), was eating a lot more salads and cooked vegetables than ever before (because, in general, produce is so much cheaper in Arizona than in Alaska, and, it being hot, one is inspired to eat more foods with higher water content), drinking a lot more water; and, maybe, because, I was using a lot of limes.

I have never read anything to indicate that limes are particularly good for weight loss, compared to anything else that is high in vitamin c and low in calories, but, I do wonder about it, because, I was using lime and lemon in my sodas, grilling meats topped with limes, adding lime juice to soups and stews, and, dicing lime peels to add to pasta dishes, and, I quickly went from about 250 lbs. to 180 lbs. in a few months.

Then, I decided that if I could do that without even really trying, I would start following the current "get healthy" advice that was everywhere and, so, by trying to eat healthy, I would do even better. Therefore, I cut out the dairy and went to soy milk, cut back on sugar, and, started eating more things like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and edamame. I started feeling worse, but, life had also gotten more stressful, so, I redoubled my efforts to eat healthy. It did not help. I was gaining weight back and feeling more and more lousy as the days progressed.

In a fit of desperation, I tried a recommended diet wonder duo that was currently being touted: reservatol and soy isolate supplements. I gained massive amounts of weight, could barely breathe, thought I was going to die from the fevers and cramps, got rashes, etc. So, I stopped those, and, started looking into the reasons why these things happened to me.

I, also, started having that same reaction if I so much took a sip of soy milk and somewhat similar, though not as bad, reactions to broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. I found out, when looking for a root cause of why those allegedly healthy wonder foods would cause me to have trouble breathing and make me gain weight, and, found out that they are all goitrogens. Also found out that I am allergic to soy.

Soy sauce does not give me the same bad symptoms as the soy milk, true. I don't get fevers and muscle cramps or rashes from it. I do have trouble breathing (because my thyroid is swollen) and gain weight from it, though. Edamame does the same thing to me.

So, for some people, when they are searching for a soy free way to be vegan, it is not a matter of debate, and, it is not because they are taking the advice of others. It is just a terrible fact of life that they must remain soy free.

Now that I am here, and have already mentioned limes, I would welcome anyone's input on them. Yes, I know it is off topic, but, seriously - I was eating limes, seeds and all, before. Since then I have read some posts by avid juicers that say to juice the whole lime, but, I have also read that lime seeds are poisonous and just a small quantity can bring you a quick and unpleasant death.

However, I also read, many times in my life, that coconut oil is so bad for you, that hydrogen peroxide therapy is poisonous, and that irradiated foods are wonderful for you - all of which were politically motivated. And, I read that you can't get protein from vegetables, and, that you have to have B12, every day, so you must eat animal products every day, or you will just go crazy and die - both of which have been proven false, by history, near and distant. So, since I have never read anything that gave scientific evidence as to why lime seeds are poisonous or why they are good for you, I am very confused on this issue.

Thank you for your time.

Eating Soy Free
by: Anonymous

I change my Life style by eating Soy Free products now. I eat organic mushrooms, live fish, organic dark green leafy vegetables, all kinds of organic legumes,all kinds of organic fruits. And I eat organic Brown Eggs, I buy All Organic Products. Like all kinds of organic Nuts and Seeds. And Organic Gluten Free Brown Rice Bread. And last I drink All orgsnic Almond milk, organic brown rice Milk and organic Coconut Milk.THANK YOU.

Fermented soy
by: Anonymous

They eat fermented soy, and not as much as people think they do. Americans have just over exploited it, and it is causing health issues for a lot of people. That is why it is getting a bad rap. Moderation is the key... just because something is good for you, does not mean the more you eat, the better, and that is the trap people have fallen into.

Allergic to soy and wheat etc.
by: Anonymous

I am allergic to soy, wheat, corn, rice, tomatoes, strawberries, most nuts and most grains on a vegan diet. I would like to follow a healthier diet and use food to help cure my lupus. Can I follow a vegan diet? Any help would be appreciated.

New discovery
by: LyNel Gross

I kept getting UTI's about every 90 days. These were a Nitrite type infection. The Nurse told me to try a Probiotic with 8-9 different bacterias in it. Do this for 60 days. WOW! what a difference. Allergies aren't nearly as bad. Constipation has gone away. I'm not catching every bug that comes along. I do eat soy & gluten. It's not giving me as bad a time as it did. Of course I don't eat GMO anything & limit things with gluten. Like my beloved bread & cookies. I make everything. I'm going to see if the Soy will grow at 10,000 feet. Wish me luck.

low carb
by: bigsur charlie

Hey can we get a chat going on low carb vegan diets....I am really wanting to stay away from rice...potatos.....etc.....what do you all think is a good low carb....low calorie sub.

how to eat gluten and soy free
by: Sue

I did not realize soooooooooooooooo many people suffer from gluten and soy allergies.

all the reasons are that they put this stuff in all prepared foods, the frozen and even prepared foods from dining in a restaurant. Eating healthy is killing me!!!

I am 65 and somedays feel like 105. If anyone else will keep in touch for me to get a little educated on what to eat without gluten and soy, it would be greatly appreciated.

Vegan without Soy or Gluten -Baby with allergies
by: Anonymous

I just read about the baby with allergies. It is easy to eat without soy, gluten, oats, etc. The nutritionist should be a good guide. I have had quinoa bread (from Trader Joe's), rice crackers and rice noodles (from Asian groceries). You can even get rice milk, hemp milk, nut milk at lots of stores and I have gotten them from Trader Joe's. If you want to make porridge for the child you can replace oats with rice, amaranth, barley and many other nutritious grains. It's not so difficult once you get used to it - you may even want to make your own breads and milk. I used to be on various wheat free and dairy free diets when I was a kid because I had allergies and asthma, that was a very long time ago and I think there are a lot more options nowadays than back then. This is a link to a website that has recipes for kids with allergies and asthma:

by: LyNel

I would like to comment about Asthma. My son had it. We found out that we had a toxic home. All the new stuff off gasses & he really reacted to this as an infant. Lots of cleaning products set him off too. I finally started making his own washing soap out of washing soda, Fells Naptha bar soap & a little vinegar. A cup of white vinegar was a wonderful rinse & softening agent. I couldn't even bring softner sheets or stain removers into the house.

We used to go get Dairy Queen Lemon Freezes & that sent him to the Hospital. I had to keep him in 100% organic cotton clothes. Nothing with a chemical made product. I have noticed a connection with lots of prescribed drugs & COPD type symptoms. Guess you don't have to smoke to get COPD. It's treated with asthma drugs & inhailers. There is also a type 2 diabetes connected to perscription drugs. Mainly Statins. We moved out of the new house into a carpet & drape free home. Hardwood & shades worked. We changed all the bedding & got a special matress for him. Putting a special cover it & the new pillow. Everything was all natural organic cotton. It worked very well until he went to school.

Thanks for the Scheese suggestion!
by: Anonymous

Thanks, Anonymous, for the suggestion about Bute Islands cheese substitute. I'll have to look for it around here. And if I DO find something else, I'll gladly post it!!!

Help for nursing mom
by: RobinM

My vegetarian nursing daughter has found out that her 8 month old is allergic to Soy, dairy, oats and the like.

She is going to see a nutrionalist asap as this is a real problem. The baby has been hospitalized already due to breathing difficulties. (at 4 months) He is on a neubulizer 2x a day at the present time.

What type of diet will she be able to be on with no soy as a vegan?

Sharp Cheddar
by: Anonymous

Hi Donna! Sharp Cheddar...I share your pain - I think it's an American thing ;) The closest replacement I have tried is Bute Island Foods Strong Cheddar Scheese.

Please let me know if you come across something better :)

changes...staying open to them
by: big sur charlie

i enjoy silk almond milk both reg./vanilla/ and chocolate
i am avoiding soy after over 20 years as a vegan,
lots of talk about mens issues with the product..
kinda sad....but i never feel cheated on the vegan path....

Soy-free diet
by: Donna

I have asthma, and all dairy triggers it for me worse than anything else I've run across. Unfortunately, soy milk makes me painfully gassy, so I'm learning to use almond milk, coconut milk and coconut cream, and hazelnut milk instead. At our grocery stores here in Western Washington State, we can buy unflavored, unsweetened almond milk, as well as vanilla and chocolate flavored (both available sweetened and unsweetened). And coconut milk makes a nice flavor change in some dishes, so it's fun to change them up. I've only recently found the hazelnut milk in our stores, but I'm excited to experiment with that as well. Butter and cheese substitutes are the biggest challenge for me, though. I know there are soy, almond and other cheese substitutes out there, but I haven't found one yet that satisfies my craving for a good sharp cheddar, or a melted mozzarella. Anybody have any suggestions?

Coconut, beans, and nuts
by: lj

I am gluten-intolerant, and trying to keep my soy intake to a minimum.

Instead of soy-based dairy products, i enjoy using coconut-based dairy. It makes creamy ice cream, and tasty kefir and yogurt. Instead of wheat and soy-based proteins, try some nut or bean proteins.

Some of my favorite products (when i don't have time to cook) are Turtle Hill, LARA bars, So Delicious, and Amy's Kitchen. (Amy's has lots of soy, dairy, gluten free options, including low-sodium meals!)

Vegan without soy or gluten
by: Anonymous

I have never had food allergies - yet, I have had allergic reactions to hidden preservatives/additives in some foods. I seem to have no issues where non GMO and minimally processed soy products like edamame and miso are concerned (rice miso "Genmai" is yummy too). I have gone through a very stressful move and my asthma has become severe and has been physically depleting my body over the past few months. I have noticed an increased sensitivity to so many things that previously did not affect me. One is wheat; noodles and bread have recently become difficult to eat and digest. However, there are many ways around this. Far East Asian diets don't include much bread and rice noodles are popular. There are other condiments than soy sauce. If you go to traditional Asian grocery stores, the food tends to be very inexpensive. It's easy to get spelt and gluten free bread from healthfood stores too.

You don't need to eat soy or wheat to get protein either. Lentils and Quinoa top the protein charts while there are still other protein rich foods like amaranth, almonds, sunflower seeds, oat bran, white beans, etc. Milks are easy to make in your blender by using a soaked softened nut or grain and water (this website has some recipes). If you have a Trader Joe's supermarket near you, you can find spelt bread, rice milk and quinoa really cheap and if you have the internet, you can order all of this and more from online stores.

Remember that often it is the way that foods are processed that make them unagreeable - I just had some Seitan (made of wheat gluten) the other night that I made from scratch and I had no difficulties, yet I almost choked on a slice of wheat bread the morning before. If people could eat a healthy vegan diet before food processing became a huge industry, so can you. Try sticking to foods in their original form, trust me, there are plenty and you don't even need to include soy or wheat. One great tip I've heard from Michael Pollan (a "Slow Food" guru) is to shop the outer circumference of the supermarket where you will find less processed food and more whole foods. Good luck :)

vegan without soy
by: Anonymous

I too have endless allergies. I swell & can't breath. Then I have a Grand Mall Seizure. While eating meat I had Fibromyalgia. I had arthuritis a real serous back injury & I'm a 17 year breast cancer survivor.

We have been vegan for almost a year & I only seem to react to mold & pollen now. My fibromylgia has gone away. I had the back surgery & am now arthritis & pain free. I grow my own food even soy beans. I make everything. My only cans are vegetable broth & canned tomatoes. I don't use anything in a box, package, bottle or bag. I threw out all the plastic. Now it's just glass. We moved out of the city & into the mountains 10,000 feet. We stopped eating sweets. We walk all over the place. Up hill & down. We are 70 years old. We don't use any milk, cheese or eggs. I use coconut milk. I buy the coconuts at the Whole Foods Market that is 100 miles away. We only have to shop every other month. Works for us & we are really healthy.

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