I have a diploma in vegan and vegetarian nutrition and enjoy experimenting with new recipes and ingredients.
I initially wrote an article called "What Do Vegans Eat?—A Day in the Life of a Gluten-Free Vegan" detailing the food I had eaten in a day to show that it is possible to eat a wide range of foods without spending huge amounts of money and still follow a gluten-free, vegan diet. I have recorded my menus from several other days, and I'm going to write up and publish a few more meal plans.
How I Priced Everything
I tend to not use many store-bought products—partly because I haven’t found many that I can actually eat, but also because of the cost or preparation. I do have a high-powered blender than can handle most tasks, but many people don’t. I have included rough costing for the recipes and have not included special offers or reduced items in this. Instead, I have priced everything based on the regular price that would be paid most of the time.
I mostly shop in Tesco as it is only a short walk away, but I also visit other supermarkets and shops if I know they have something specific. Waitrose sell one of the nicest ice creams I have ever had, dairy-free or not, but at £6 for a small tub, it’s not something I have often!
As with my recipes, I plan these menus to be easy for most people to recreate.
Diary of a Gluten-Free Vegan (From 31/03/2017)
All prices are approximate and based on Tesco.
- Cost: 34p
- Meal: Sliced banana with Alpro vanilla soya yoghurt
My favourite yoghurts are Alpro Go On, either plain or with the fruit. However, they are quite a quite a bit more expensive than others, so I often buy the large tubs of yoghurt instead. My son will eat them in two sittings if serving himself, so I portion it out into small reusable tubs I bought on Amazon. He’s happy with that, and it means I get seven portions from one large tub. I also do the same for jelly and tinned fruit.
- Cost: 99p
- Meal: Creamy mushrooms and onion on toast
I am not really a fan of gluten-free bread, and it is very hard to find without egg. To me, it is nothing like what I liked about wheat bread, and so it's easier to leave out. I do make my own bread sometimes using Doves Farm flour and aquafaba in place of eggs. (I use the recipe on the flour packet.) Spinach is a good addition to this recipe, too.
- 125 grams mushrooms, sliced
- 1/4 red onion, sliced
- Splash of soya milk or soya cream
- Slice of suitable bread
- A little dairy-free spread or oil for frying and spreading on toast
Simply fry the mushrooms and onions until soft and serve on hot buttered toast.
Afterwards, I had a slice of chocolate chip cake we made yesterday and half a packet of crisps as these were shared with my youngest.
- Cost: 96p
- Meal: Sweet potato, bean and spinach curry with rice; 1/2 tin of peaches with soya cream
I made the curry a few days ago and had some left over that needed using up. I had the soya cream open and was looking through the cupboard for something to use it with as pudding. I used to have tinned peaches with evaporated milk as a child, so this is my dairy-free version. It was a hit with my 18-month-old as well.
Being Vegan Is Not Hard
People often think that following a vegan or plant-based diet is difficult, expensive and time-consuming. It is easy to understand how someone who eats a diet based around meat and other animal products may feel this way and feel as though there is very little left to eat, especially when also having to exclude gluten. These types of diet tend to feature vegetables and pulses merely as side dishes or as extras that no one really wants to eat but know that they should. Looking at plant-based meals in this way does make them feel very restrictive, plain and unexciting.
People may also feel that not eating animal products is unhealthy and therefore should not be followed. This is not always the case, and it is possible to receive all the goodness needed for good health while following a plant-based diet. Some people even find that they feel healthier and have more energy after giving up meat, dairy products and eggs.
How I Went Vegan and Gluten-Free
I had been vegetarian since 2009 and then in 2011 discovered that the health problems I had were caused by having a number of food intolerances, including wheat, milk protein and egg yolk. Once excluding these foods, the problems resolved, but it has meant that I have had to become creative with my cooking.
Having to cut out a lot of foods I liked has led to me trying many new foods and to experiment with using foods in new ways. I wouldn’t have thought avocado would work in a cake but now it is my go to cake recipe and many people don’t notice any difference. I also hated mushrooms until a few years ago when someone introduced me to stuffed portobello mushrooms. Since then I have tried several types and have found that in fact it is that I am not keen on regular one mushrooms rather than not liking them at all. My favourite are chestnut mushrooms so I tend to use those mostly.
Gluten-Free and Vegan Products and Ingredients
Most major supermarkets and many smaller shops now stock a range of products that are free from many common allergens, including gluten, or are vegetarian or vegan. These include ready-made products and ingredients such as:
- Chocolate bars
- Stock powder
- Sweet and savoury spreads
However, these can be very expensive compared to regular brands and can vary greatly in quality, texture and taste. Products such as these are not needed unless you wish to include them, and there is still a huge variety of foods that are naturally gluten- and animal-product-free than can be used to create delicious and nutritious meals.
Examples of naturally gluten-free vegan foods include:
- fresh fruits and vegetables
- dried fruit
- dried pasta
- beans and pulses
- some cereals
© 2017 Claire