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October Is Celiac Awareness Month

About 1 in 133 people has celiac disease, an inherited illness in which the lining of the small intestine is damaged upon consumption of wheat, barley, or rye (whether oats are also off limits is up for debate). But because the symptoms are so common (stomachaches, constipation, diarrhea, and fatigue, among others), celiac can be difficult to diagnose. In an effort to raise awareness, October has been designated Celiac Awareness Month.

Of course, having celiac or even just being gluten-intolerant can be that much more complicated if you’re also vegan—goodbye, seitan and wheat protein! Even if you’d be willing to suffer the intestinal upset for some mock meat every once in a while, consider this: Researchers are now tying celiac to dementia and other forms of cognitive decline. (McDonald’s was sued for not disclosing all the ingredients in its french fries, which were found to contain gluten as well as casein, which exacerbated the condition of an autistic boy.) The good news is, tests at the Mayo Clinic have shown that following a gluten-free diet may help counteract these consequences. The bad news is, following a gluten-free vegan diet can be a real pain in the ass. But it can be done.

For the lazy or time-pressed among us, there are actually burgers we can keep in the freezer: three varieties of Sunshine Burgers, to be exact. (They’re soy-free, too, for those of us who also can’t tolerate soy.) Enjoy Life products are free of the common allergens, and all of the Road’s End Organics products are vegan, and many are wheat- or gluten-free—their Mac & Chreese, for example, is made from brown rice, and you can use rice milk to make the sauce. The new Dippy Chick Company, started by a woman who is gluten-intolerant, as are her children, sells only gluten-free dip mixes, many of which are vegan. And if you’re feeling Betty Crockery, you can make yourself some yummy Brownie Bites, though I prefer to let someone else do the baking and stock up whenever I’m in the vicinity of Babycakes or grab some gluten-free Nana’s No’s from the health food store.

If you need more ideas, you can find gluten-free vegan recipes online, or try out the cookbooks A Taste of Vitality and Desserts of Vitality, both of which are completely vegan and contain almost entirely gluten-free recipes. Oh, and if you discover any amazing new gluten-free vegan resources or know of any I’ve neglected to mention, please let me know!

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