Yes, it is Possible to be Vegan and Gluten-Free during COVID-19

You’d be familiar with the cold chill down your spine when your favourite local restaurant cross-contaminates your favourite meal. Whether it’s dairy, eggs, meat or gluten, your meal is ruined when it’s contaminated and you’ll feel pretty lousy for the rest of your day. If you’re vegan, you may even experience a huge guilt trip because you know that the cross-contamination has involved the suffering of animals.

COVID-19 restrictions are in place. What can I do?

Now that COVID-19 restrictions are in place, you’re staying home and cooking most of – if not all – your own meals. You’ll be feeling fantastic, knowing that your cooking won’t succumb to the depths of a brutal cross-contamination. So, what does it mean to be vegan and gluten-free during the COVID-19 pandemic? Quite simply, it means that you can still look after yourself while saving the lives of sentient beings who are slaughtered and processed for food. You are in charge of your food choices during these times of uncertainty.

Some commentary to back up the vegan argument…

According to the commentary offered by T. Colin Campbell, PhD at PlantPure Communities, it’s now common knowledge that people over the age of 60 and those people with pre-existing conditions are the ones who are most vulnerable to COVID-19. Campbell goes further to offer an academic idea that makes logical sense: “People can defend themselves against the worst effects of the COVID-19 infection, and help flatten the curve of hospitalizations, by strengthening their immune systems through their food choices.” One way we can all achieve this is by adopting a wholefood plant-based diet. Furthermore, you’ve probably heard the reports that COVID-19 originated from an animal source. While investigations are still underway to work out the exact source, the World Organisation for Animal Health made the following comment: “Current evidence suggests that the COVID-19 virus emerged from an animal source.”  This is compelling because the current knowledge suggests that consuming animal products leads to a rise in humans becoming infected with ever-evolving viruses like COVID-19.

If you’re not vegan, you can still choose vegan options…

While you self-isolate yourself during the current COVID-19 pandemic, you can cut through the noise at the supermarket and hone your choices. You are allowed to travel to your supermarket for essential shopping only, so maximise your choices and find the bare basics. Before you go to the supermarket, research some vegan recipes you want to make and then prepare your shopping list. You have the time to prepare meals from scratch now, so maximise it to make them fresh every time. Once you’re at the supermarket, zone in on the outer rim aisles and choose the fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs that are in season and on offer right now. You will also need some pulses and grains so head to those aisles and stock up on staples like tins of chickpeas, black beans, lentils, and packets of pastas, rice, polenta, and couscous. Check out the spices aisle and pick up a few jars of spices that your recipes call for. In the refrigerated section, you’ll also find blocks of tofu, plant-based yoghurts and milks. These choices clearly show you that it’s possible to avoid meat, dairy and eggs. Your health and your wallet won’t take a huge hit, either. If you’re stuck and you’re not really sure where to begin, you can check out the Vegan Easy 30-Day Vegan Challenge.

But what does this all mean if you can’t eat gluten?

Do you have Coeliac Disease or are you non-Coeliac gluten sensitivity? The COVID-19 pandemic may create some extra hurdles for your health so it’s best to keep informed by the updates issued by your local authorities. Here in Australia, Coeliac Australia says that those most at risk of serious infection like COVID-19 are:

  • People with compromised immune systems (such as people who have cancer)
  • Elderly people
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (as they have higher rates of chronic illness)
  • People with chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease or diabetes
  • People in group residential settings
  • People in detention facilities

Coeliac Australia also goes on to suggest that: “As a precaution our Medical Advisory Committee thinks it is reasonable that adults with Coeliac Disease may consider themselves to be within the higher risk group and to follow the associated advice. While the same precautions should be taken irrespective of whether a person is in an average or higher risk category, people in a higher risk category need to be particularly stringent with social distancing measures.”

Naturally, those with gluten issues need to observe a strict gluten-free diet (especially during this time); the only way to keep your immune system’s health in check. Make sure you buy foods that don’t have gluten in them, and avoid foods that “may contain” or are prepared in a facility that “also processes products containing gluten”. Basically, you need to avoid wheat, rye, barley and oats. When you’re observing a vegan diet alongside a gluten-free one, just make sure you’re choosing groceries that don’t contain meat and meat-derived ingredients, dairy and eggs as well.

Disclaimer: All thoughts and ideas expressed in this blog post are that of Justine de Jonge. Research and sources have been provided in order to illustrate and support the theme. Please consult your doctor if you have any existing health issues or concerns.  


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