Tips for Vegans Eating a Low FODMAP Diet

I've been sitting on this post for a while because I wasn't sure if it that many people would be interested, but since opening up the Love Your Guts Facebook group, it's been a hot discussion topic. Hopefully, this helps those of you who have been asking!

I hear from a lot of people attempting to follow a low FODMAP diet without using any animal products. While it's not easy, it's also not impossible! Since my strategy involves meeting every person where they are, I love a challenge and helping clients find ways to stick with what they know while taking that first step forward. 

Today I'm sharing some of my best tips for getting good nutrition on a diet that eliminates many plant-based staples like bread, beans, and avocados. 

Tip #1: Don't Try to Do This Alone!

My first tip is to seek out a professional who has experience working with both Low FODMAP diets and plant-based diets. Having guidance can make all the difference in how quickly you start feeling better, meet your macro (and micro) nutrient needs, and prevent you from developing a disordered relationship with food. 

The first professional you meet might not believe that vegans can successfully attempt a low FODMAP diet, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's true!

Don't be afraid to meet with multiple professionals to find one that's a good fit. Most holistic nutritionists and dieticians offer a complimentary meet and greet sessions so you can get to know them, their experience, and decide if you'll be a good fit to work together. Ask questions about their knowledge and experience working with IBS, FODMAPs and plant-based diets. Go with your gut. It's okay for this process to take a while, having the right professional on your team is worth the work. 

(pssssst, if you want to book one with me, click here)

Tip #2: Choose Soy Over Other Legumes

The soy products tofu (in block form, not silken) and tempeh are one of the few dense plant-based protein sources that are also low in FODMAPs. You might be tempted to avoid soy, based on fear-mongering internet pseudo-science... but soy products will help you meet your nutrition needs on a Low FODMAP diet that's also free on animal products. 

You can try to include small servings of other legumes (like chickpeas) as well, but because of their FODMAP content, most people with IBS cannot tolerate them in high amounts. Since small amounts won't provide the protein you need to meet your tequirements, they should be viewed as more of a condiment than a staple.

Include a few servings per week of quality soy products and choose tempeh often, as it may be more beneficial than tofu. Just about 100 grams of either will clock in around 20 grams of protein. Gluten-free soy sauce (tamari) is great as a seasoning, but won't add much protein to meals. 

Avoid whole soybeans, soy milk, edamame beans, silken tofu, isolated soy protein, TVP, and soy-based mock meats. All these products are typically high in FODMAPS. 

If you're worried about soy, worried about FODMAPs, and worried about animal products... it might be time to assess your relationship with food. I say this with so much love, but it's easy to develop fear around food and if the restrictions are starting to pile up it might be time to address that. Eating a restricted diet will starve off your gut microbes and make it seem like you have more food intolerances than you actually do. If this sounds like you, consider diversifying your diet even if it causes temporary digestive issues. 

Tip #3: Hemps Seeds Are Your New BFF

Another great low FODMAP plant-based protein source, so make friends with these powerful little seeds. Just 3 tablespoons of hemp hearts offer up 10 grams of protein, which is pretty good! 

In addition, hemp seeds are also packed with linoleic acid (omega-6), alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3) and gamma-linolenic acid (omega-6) which are all considered to be healthy and essentials fats. 

Spoon hemp seeds (sometimes called hemp hearts) onto salads, add them to smoothies, or use as a replacement for oats in baking! I say spoon instead of sprinkle, because you really need to eat a lot of them to get enough nutrition from them.

Luckily, these seeds have a sweet, creamy flavour and are just as delicious as they are nutritious. 

Tip #4: Meal Prep and Batch Cook

Cook ahead, find meals that work and repeat them, have a plan. Having healthy food ready to go will make sticking to a Low FODMAP protocol much easier.

Here are some things you should always try to have on-hand:

  • cooked grains (white rice, quinoa, gluten-free pasta)
  • marinated tofu cubes (soaked in tamari)
  • chopped veggies (cucumber, carrots, cherry tomatoes)
  • low FODMAP dips or seed butter (sunbutter, tahini, pumpkin seed butter)
  • soups, stews, and other dishes that are easy to batch cook

Tip #5: Supplement Strategically

In addition to the usual B12 and D3 supplements you're probably already taking (and if you're not, get on that because you really need to be), consider adding an amino acid supplement to help your body meet it's protein requirements.

Don't shy away from fortified non-dairy milks (like almond milk) as long as they are unsweetened and don't contain added fibres. 1 cup of these fortified milks will provide about a third of your calcium needs for the day.

A micro-algae-based DHA supplement can also help boost your DHA to similar levels that a person eating animal products would have. DHA is very anti-inflammatory and our bodies often don't make enough of it even with plenty of ALA in the diet.

Other supplements might be recommended, but your nutrition professional will offer guidance based on your unique needs. Some of my typical recommendations for vegans include amino acids, choline, l-glutamine, magnesium, and a good FOS-free probiotic.

I hope these tips help those of you who are following a Low FODMAP diet! If there's something else you're struggling with, or if you have any tips of your own to share leave me a comment.