By Zach

This article goes out to all of you gluten-free eaters who are vegetarians, but also, this article is dedicated to gluten-free meat lovers who are interested in learning about a vegetarian-friendly lifestyle. For those of you who have already rolled your eyes because you wouldn’t dream about “complicating” your life even more than it is now, hear me out because even if you don’t want to be a vegetarian, you may find that adopting a “plant-based” diet (which doesn’t exclude meat) could be the x-factor that you’ve been trying to find.

Protein Sources

One of the main criticisms that vegetarians receive from adamant carnivores is, “Where do you get your protein from?” I’ve gotten this hundreds of times over the years, and I usually first reply to them asking, “Well, do you even know how much protein you’re suppose to intake in a day?,” which they usually can’t accurately tell me. Obviously gender, age and weight are significant factors in determining how much protein someone should eat, but 55 grams is the suggested amount of protein the average adult should consume. Some great gluten-free and vegetarian protein sources include:

  • Nuts
  • Eggs
  • Quinoa
  • Cheese
  • Lentils
  • Beans/Legumes/Seeds (Pulses)
  • Plain Tofu (other varieties are not guaranteed to be gluten-free)

Quinoa is a golden protein source because of its “complete protein” properties. It embodies all 8 amino acids, which is essential to promote good health.

Vitamin Complex

People always ask me about my vitamin intake as well. Honestly, I doubt anyone gets the full amount of vitamins they are suppose to get in a day. Between the hundreds of vitamins and minerals there are out there, it seems near impossible unless you’ve got a spice rack full of vitamins you take every day. Regardless, you can still get most of the vitamins you need. The main ones vegetarians need to watch out for is B and D Vitamins, which can easily be found a your local health or grocery store. For instance, B12 is found in most meats and functions as an energy carrier throughout your body, which is why people who don’t eat meat sometimes get tired easily. Once you know how to adequately consume the nutrients that you need, it’ll become second nature to you.

Seasonal Eating

“Out with the old, in with the new!” – it’s a phrase that pretty much everyone can relate to is some way or another. Whether we’re talking about New Year’s resolutions or a new outlook on life, there’s always room for keeping a positive and sanguine attitude about brightening your future.  Spring is in the air, which means a new wave of seasonal vegetables are hitting farmer’s markets and grocery stores at their lowest prices and freshest succulence. For those interested in the nutritional and ecological side of eating, a new season usually means new exciting entrees. For example, here’s a quick list of gluten-free and vegetarian Spring staples:

  • Artichoke
  • Asparagus
  • Bananas
  • Carrots
  • Corn
  • Honeydew
  • Lettuce
  • Mango
  • Oranges
  • Peas
  • Pineapple
  • Scallions
  • Spinach
  • Spring Greens
  • Strawberries
  • Vidalia Onions

Smoothies made with: bananas, strawberries, pineapples and fruit juice is also a refreshing compliment to a breakfast, lunch or dinner.

A gluten-free vegetarian diet may seem like a challenge (and even a self-inflicting thing to do!), but once you know your cornucopia of options available to you, the recipes, healthy eating and satisfaction kind of just fall right into place. When living  the gluten-free and vegetarian lifestyle, one will probably acquire a quick love for cooking at home because then you can assure yourself that gluten-free means gluten-free to your standards and fresh salads, vegetables and fruits are fresh to your liking. It may seem like a second job at first, but when you start cooking the way you want with the fresh gluten-free and vegetarian-friendly ingredients you want, you discover that you get to be your own boss – and who doesn’t like that?