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The Gluten Free Veggie

Gluten Free and Vegetarian Recipes, Reviews and Information

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Dear Quorn…

Dear Quorn,

I’m addressing this blog post to you because I want to open a dialogue about your gluten free range.

I firstly want to say how wonderful it is that in recent years you’ve created more gluten free and vegan products for those of us with more than one dietary requirement. It was good to see such a well known company stepping up and providing for Coeliacs. I also hope that it has increased your sales, as now those who had to avoid your products for their gluten content can buy them again.

Having said that, I am writing this to draw your attention to your use of gluten free barley in your gluten free products. YES, your gluten free barley IS gluten free technically speaking (under 20 ppm), but I’m curious as to whether you realise that you are still alienating a large portion of your potential customers?

Quorn

Ingredient information for “Meat Free Gluten Free Burgers” on Quorn’s website

Quorn mince

Ingredient information for “Meat Free Mince” on Quorn’s website

Whilst Coeliacs need gluten free food, as the gluten free community are aware, sometimes it is not enough to remove the gluten from a usually gluten containing grain and still use it in your product, or to use a small enough amount of said gluten containing grain that it comes to under 20 ppm. This has come to light recently with the use of codex wheat in some of Schar’s and Juvela products. Whilst these foods are certainly gluten free, they contain wheat, and some Coeliacs still react. It is also important to mention non-Coeliacs who need to gluten free for health reasons – IBS sufferers, for example.

This is a very grey area, and legally speaking it is still fine to use gluten free versions of usually gluten containing grain. But I wanted to raise this point to try to discourage you and other companies from doing this. You must realise that not everyone who needs gluten free food (whether they are Coeliac, suffer from IBS, Hashimoto’s, Colitis etc.) can eat these grains.

Therefore I ask you to consider this, to discuss it with those in the gluten free community, to test alternatives and to see whether you could use a different ingredient in your gluten free products. I ask whether it would be possible for you to consider that not everyone who is gluten free can eat those grains, even when the gluten is removed, and to work towards making a product that is suitable for all of us.

Yours faithfully,

The Gluten Free Veggie

My vegetarianism does not negate my Coeliac diagnosis

This is perhaps a more controversial topic than I normally post but I think it is something I would like to open up a respectful discussion about.

I have never been a “preachy” vegetarian. I think that you have to right to eat whatever you like and I will never tell you that you should go vegetarian/vegan. I wish I could say that my “live and let live” attitude to meat eaters was a two way street.

I’ve been vegetarian my entire life – my mother raised me vegetarian and when I was old enough to understand it, my father offered me the opportunity to eat meat if I wanted to, and I never did. That means I’ve had nearly twenty two years of being called “flakey”, of being judged, of being told that my vegetarian diet is bad for me. Ever since I first went to school, I’ve aggressively been preached at to eat meat.

This only got worse once I was diagnosed with Coeliac. For some reason, in people’s minds, you can only have one dietary requirement. If you have Coeliac disease, it’s ridiculous to be vegetarian too, even if you’ve been this way all your life. Not a morsel of meat has passed my lips my entire life and yet people expect me to not only go through the drastic dietary changes that a Coeliac diagnosis requires, but also to start introducing a substance that my body has never had to digest, to change my entire lifestyle and beliefs because of an illness?  I was surprised even to find that some Coeliacs are completely unsupportive of vegetarian Coeliacs. After first being diagnosed, I sought comfort on Facebook groups, and as soon as I mentioned my vegetarianism, all hell was let loose. You’re told that it’s a “choice” and that you’re being “fussy”. Whilst I agree, it is a choice, unlike Coeliac disease, eating meat is also a choice.

Being vegetarian does not negate my Coeliac diagnosis, as I soon came to realise once I joined the wonderful people on the Facebook group Vegetarian Coeliacs UK. These people are a mix of vegans, vegetarians, pescetarians and anyone who is trying to eat less meat or can’t eat meat for health reasons who also have Coeliac disease. They are some of the kindest and most welcoming people I’ve had the pleasure of talking to after diagnosis and I’ve made several firm friends through the group. I was so pleased to find that not everyone thought that being Coeliac and vegetarian was ridiculous, and that there are nearly 1000 people in the UK alone that are in the same boat.

So, I will leave you with this thought – I respect YOUR right to eat what you want, so why won’t you respect mine?

 

Awareness | The fear of cross contamination

I have seen this claim on the internet multiple times and so I decided to check out its validity in order to impress on any non-coeliacs the importance of being aware of cross contamination.

I refuse to believe anything on the internet without conducting some kind of research. You can see from the quote image that I have made, how easy it is to take a “fact” as truth – it looks and sounds legitimate and includes my website in the bottom right to give it more punch. So I conducted some research to find its source.

For those of you who don’t know, cross contamination of gluten is when a gluten free meal becomes contaminated with a gluten containing food, often through using the same utensils for gluten free and gluten containing foods. It’s a big issue in restaurants – the chaotic rush of a commercial kitchen which handles gluten is bound to lead to a stray crumb. Whilst this might seem inconsequential if you’ve never experienced coeliac symptoms, for us it’s a big worry. That one careless crumb can lead to days of agony and sometimes even weeks of recovery.

Just in case you still don’t believe me when I say it can take just a crumb to cause us agony, I tracked down the source of this “1/64 of a teaspoon” claim. Whilst many websites quote it simply claiming it as a “coeliac fact” without crediting a source, it seems to have originated from this article by Lori Rowell MS. RD at the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center. The academic in me was keen to discover whether this is peer-reviewed (which it does seem to be) and given the reputation of this Center in leading research on Coeliac Disease, this is undoubtedly a useful source. This article is a very useful read for anyone who wants to know more about reducing the risk.

So what can be done to protect coeliacs from this hard to detect danger? The first step, to my mind, is awareness for non-coeliacs and food handlers/chefs. That’s partly what I hope to do here.

Another way we can cope with the dangers of cross contamination is by supporting 100% gluten free eateries. A few weeks ago I posted a list of all of the UK‘s 100% GF eateries in an attempt to promote them and to help people find their nearest ones. In these wonderful, often family run places, cross contamination is not an issue.

The last frontier to combat for cross contamination is restaurants that offer “no gluten containing ingredients” food. Whilst Coeliac UK has done a lot of work with their accreditation programme to minimise cross contamination, lots of restaurants still have NGCI menus. For coeliacs, this can be an issue – there is no guarantees with these menus. Eateries need to be aware that no gluten doesn’t necessarily equal gluten free.

Cross contamination will always be a worry for us, but every coeliac can do their part for awareness and progress . Educate the people around you with well informed research and personal anecdotes to help the general populus understand the issues we face on a daily basis.

strip-for-blog

New recipes every Monday, new blog posts every Friday and Youtube videos twice a month.

Youtube: The Gluten Free Veggie – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-b7T1VFTZqYq15aPvdlNwA

Twitter: @theGFveggie

Tumblr: glutenfreeveggie.tumblr.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theGFveggie

E-mail your questions or suggestions to: glutenfreeveggieblog@gmail.com

 

 

Change to scheduled posts/videos

You may remember this tweet from last week which teased you with guessing the ingredients of my next post and YT video:

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Due to my laptop breaking (it’s now in the repair shop for the forseeable with all my Shepherd’s Pie videos on there!) I won’t be able post that video on the 22nd as planned. The shepherd’s pie blog post will be on 20th as planned. Instead you will get a What I Ate In A Day on 22nd – sorry for the change but nothing I could do!

Stay tuned – Youtube videos are going to be more frequent now! Possibly every fortnight…..

Blog posts every Monday and Friday!

 

Youtube: The Gluten Free Veggie – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-b7T1VFTZqYq15aPvdlNwA

Twitter: @theGFveggie

Tumblr: glutenfreeveggie.tumblr.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theGFveggie

E-mail your questions or suggestions to: glutenfreeveggieblog@gmail.com

 

Changes to the blog in 2017

I am not one for the disingenuous phenomenon of #newyearnewme however, I do see the benefit of drawing a line in the sand and using the Christmas/New Year break to kick start something. I have decided to make a few changes and additions to my blog this year, changes that I’ve been considering for some time but haven’t had the chance to implement yet.

Firstly and most importantly I’ve pushed myself to make a decision that I’ve been umming and erring about over the last few months – posting on here regularly. I’ve held off doing this because I’m often too busy to commit to a specific day because of uni and work commitments. Having said all of that, I think I need the challenge. WordPress is a wonderful format for this because you can create blog posts and schedule them to upload later. This is what I plan to do most weeks, posting weekly on Mondays and Fridays (with special occasion posts like Christmas/Easter etc. on other days). So for those of you who are interested in seeing regular blog posts here is the schedule.

posting-schedule

Secondly, I’m going to attempt to make my Youtube channel more active by finally uploading some videos! I watch a lot of gluten free and vegetarian/vegan vloggers, namely Becky Excell at Gluten Free Cuppa Tea and vegan superstars like Lauren Toyota (hot for food etc.) but I’ve been too cowardly to make anything myself. I will try to upload once a month (on the first of the month) if I can and the videos will mostly follow my recipe blog posts as these are the easiest for me to do.

Lastly, I will finally be bringing out a blog post that I’ve been working on for a long time which maps 100% gluten free eateries all over the UK. I started this post more than a year ago but was discouraged by a blog (that will remain nameless as this isn’t a mud slinging contest) who have compiled something similar. I don’t see an issue with their being more than one guide, and frankly it’s been useful to compile it for myself. My guide may be less complete than others (in fact, I’m certain it will) but I’ve tried my best to make my own version, for myself, for whoever reads this and for maximum exposure of those wonderful businesses that deserve our support.

As always, I’m am open to suggestions, constructive critiques and questions. A healthy and productive 2017 to all of you!

6.4.16 (3)

 

 

Please read – disclaimer and address to some recent accusations.

It’s nearly Christmas and that usually means that people are full of good will and generosity. Unfortunately, this year I encountered someone with quite the opposite attitude and so I feel I have to clarify a few things about my little blog for the sake of my own integrity as well as for all of you who (I hope) enjoy my occasional posts.

Firstly, this blog is in no way affiliated with, sponsored by or in any other way has links to the companies or businesses that I mention. I cannot stress this enough – I do not get ANY financial gain from this blog. All of my posts are created for my own enjoyment and anyone besides myself who comes across it and likes it is an absolute bonus for me. Any companies or businesses that are mentioned here are being mentioned because either a) I like them or b) I am reviewing them to help people gain a better understanding of their products or services before spending money. I do not earn a penny, even if I give a rave review. This is not something I am aiming to do – I do not and will not want money from these companies in the future, but reviewing and promoting them helps Coeliacs everywhere.

Secondly, I am not trying to get famous, nor am I in any way interested with writing scandal or click bait. I reiterate – this is for my own fun not for self-promotion or to make money. For a start, if I was trying to promote my own interests I would post regularly and try to gain money from advertisers or sponsors.

And finally, I freely admit that I am not a qualified dietitian, doctor or health specialist, and I have never claimed to be. My musings about Coeliac disease or IBS are informed by my own experience and are in no way claimed to be official health advice. I always advise anyone who is having health issues, thinks they may have Coeliac disease, IBS or any other condition to NEVER self-diagnose, to seek the advise of a qualified professional, and to educate themselves with reliable and verified sources.

I hope this has addressed the concerns of a very vocal minority of the people who read this blog.

Christmas wishes to anyone reading this and I hope you all have a happy and healthy break and New Year.

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