Can you avoid grains and gluten on a vegan diet?
On my Facebook page, an ever-increasing number of people have asked me about whether or not a gluten-free and grain-free diet, the Grain Brain diet, is compatible with a vegetarian and/or vegan one. Many interpret my call to avoid grains, something that has become a staple in vegetarian and vegan diets, as an endorsement of the meats, proteins, and fats individuals on these types of diets avoid. However, though I may not be a vegetarian or vegan, there is certainly no reason one can’t be a vegetarian/vegan and on a Grain Brain-friendly diet.
In fact, it’s quite easy to be on a vegetarian or vegan diet that is gluten-free and brain-friendly. All that separates the average vegetarian/vegan diet from one that is Grain Brain-friendly is the elimination of all grains. The key is, in doing so, to make sure that there are still adequate sources of fat, vitamin D, and vitamin B-12. If there aren’t, your body will be running at a nutritional deficiency that could lead to greater health problems.
How do you manage this? Try working in those ingredients that have a nutritional profile similar to what I outlined above. Whenever possible, use coconut oil when making a soup or stew (or maybe even in a smoothie) for a flavorful (and fatty) addition to your meal. Mushrooms, particularly shittake mushrooms, make for a great source of vitamin D.
However, when it comes to B-12, it can a bit tougher for vegetarians and vegans to find powerhouse sources of this vital nutrient. Most of nature’s richest sources of B-12 are meats, such as shellfish and beef, and are, naturally, avoided by those on a vegan or vegetarian diet. The sources of B-12 that most of these individuals turn to are things like kelp or tofu, which certainly has some B-12, but are nowhere near as rich in B-12. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you may want to consider adding a B-12 supplement to your daily regiment.