Do you have Celiac Disease? What’s the difference between Celiac Disease and a “gluten-sensitivity”?

Luckily, I do not have Celiac Disease, which is a vicious auto-immune disorder. For sufferers of this condition, gluten is a poison to the body and needs to be completely eliminated from one’s diet. Sufferers of Celiac must also be careful about consuming foods which even may have come in contact with gluten-containing foods.

The question of whether people without Celiac Disease can have “sensitivities” to gluten has been debated in recent years in a number of media articles. I do not know the extent to which gluten sensitivity exists, as I am certainly not an expert on the subject. I only know how it has affected me personally. When I was having a number of digestive and health-related issues several years ago, I took a blood test to determine which foods I was sensitive to, and wheat gluten was one of those foods. I tested positive for other foods, but eventually was able to add many of these back into my diet over time. However, I found that every time I would try to add back gluten, I would continue to have a number of digestive issues after eating. These issues included stomach pains, flatulence and sometimes even nausea. This would not happen every time I ate gluten, and I could tolerate it in small doses (i.e. bread crumbs on a dish, soy sauce) but the more gluten in a meal, the more problems I would have. So I decided to continue to not eat gluten, as it just does not agree with me.

If the above reasons weren’t enough, suffering from Lyme Disease and other co-infections has certainly reinforced my decision to keep gluten out of my diet. Many Lyme-literate physicians I researched recommend a gluten-free and refined sugar-free diet for most success during treatment, for a number of reasons. My doctor even suggested that my gluten-free and vegan diet at the time of diagnosis was one of the reasons I was functioning “relatively” well despite the high number of tick-borne infections I was carrying.

For all of these reasons, while I am lucky enough to not have to be highly vigilant about avoiding any and all gluten-containing foods (as someone with Celiac or a serious intolerance must be), I continue to avoid gluten in my everyday diet for optimum health. That said, I eat a number of other non-gluten grains including brown rice, quinoa, millet and buckwheat without issue.

Which sweeteners do you use instead of refined sugar?

While agave was once my sweetener of choice due to its lower glycemic-index (as can be seen from older posts on this blog), I have since learned much more about this sweetener and try to avoid it due to a very high fructose content. I now prefer coconut nectar or coconut crystals (made from the dried coconut nectar sap), as it is still low-glycemic but also much, much lower in fructose than agave. That said,  due to a history of candida issues, I try to use coconut sweeteners sparingly.

On a daily basis, I like to use NuNaturals vanilla stevia to sweeten unsweetened soy yogurt or to add to coffee drinks or smoothies. I also use yacon syrup in some recipes, which can be difficult to find but is a much better choice for candida suffers. There are recipes on this blog that use stevia or yacon syrup exclusively for those with candida issues.

For previous recipes that call for agave, I find that coconut nectar has been a good alternative — though it may not work as a substitute in every recipe.

Did you lose weight after going vegan?

Yes and no. Well, no. But then again, I was never trying to “lose weight”, but had for many years prior been very diligent about trying to maintain my weight and stayin shape. Once I went vegan, I found that I was no longer fixated on calories or portion size, and could switch to a much less strenuous workout regimen without noticing much of a difference in weight or shape. That said, I eat a mostly whole foods vegan diet free of gluten and refined sugar (obviously). I also try to avoid processed foods and have noticed that the more I stick to a whole foods, less-processed approach, the more maintaining my weight seems effortless.

Why do some of your posts refer to eating fish/chicken if you are vegan?

I started this blog in 2009, when I was still an omnivore and before I took an animal law class that changed my life. When I made the transition to veganism, I originally thought I would keep older posts which included fish or chicken. But as time went on, I realized I did not feel comfortable keeping recipes on my blog that I would no longer eat. I removed all recipes containing meat, while some posts from my pre-vegan days may still refer to eating chicken or fish.

While the vegan activist in me wants to delete every single reference to meat-eating in my posts, the reality is that I do not think I am alone in being someone who has needed some “leeway” time in my vegan transition. Now that I am 100% vegan, I hope my older posts will help remind others thinking about going vegan that even the most diligent meatless folks once struggled to give it up, too.

Do you do product reviews?

In my early blogging days, I accepted the occasional free product for review purposes. Unfortunately, I no longer have the time to review products and do not feel comfortable accepting products even with “no strings attached”, as I hate feeling indebted and too often felt that way when I would accept samples or free stuff.