how I came to be a gluten-free vegan (my diagnosis with celiac disease)

Hey lovely readers! Who’s ready for a verbose post?

I rarely put personal things on my blog, because I’m kind of (okay, definitely) an introvert, and prefer to keep to myself with many things–but it seems apropos to let you all know a little bit about how I became a gluten-free vegan, right? Lately I’ve been receiving many questions asking me everything from why I only post gluten-free recipes to whether or not I think giving up gluten for those who don’t have celiac disease (or a wheat intolerance or allergy) is a good idea. Since I have never really addressed much on this topic, I figure it may be best to do an entire post about how I came to be a gluten-free vegan.

We can skip past most of my childhood, go over a few details, and jump to when my doc thought that my celiac disease was “triggered”. The funny thing about this condition is that you can have it sitting dormant in your genes for a while, and then something traumatic can bring it on, such an accident or sudden illness.

me as a babe surrounded by my older siblings. the handsome chap in the background is my wonderful late father, Larney.

I had a good childhood: my energy levels were high, my mind in good spirits, my family very loving. I was surrounded by my older siblings and very ambitious parents, guiding me toward the path of a happy, healthy life. My father was my world; when we were together, we just clicked. I always felt as though, no matter how young or naive, my dad treated me as an equal. He’d even humor me in debating whether or not cats were smarter than dogs (a subject that often was exhausted by both of us) and he taught me the importance of compassion–both to other humans and animals. He aided me in fostering strong and happy friendships that I still carry on today–wonderful, solid friendships that may have never formed without his constant willingness to make it happen. My mother, although not around much when I was a kid since she was going to school full-time, was ambitious as hell, and once I was born she was determined to resign her hairdresser nametag and become a doctor. And she certainly did. She inspired me to go after whatever the heck I wanted, and that it was never too late to get started.

Even though most of my childhood was pretty carefree and healthy, I did have a few bouts of sickness, and my medical record was less than perfect (actually it was pretty thick). I had constant strep throat during the winter months, pink eye almost every change of the season, and frequent bumps, cuts, bruises, and broken limbs due to my incurable curiosity and adventurous attitude.

The summer before my Freshman year of high school, I contracted mononucleosis, making me bed-ridden for 3 months straight. Worst summer vacation ever. At this exact time, my own father had just had his leg amputated from his diabetes that caused an infection in his foot. From that moment on, my dad became terminally ill and didn’t really have the drive that he used to. The man who was once my energetic, fun, and inspirational dad, became depressed and his energy plummeted. I was too unsure of myself then to do anything sensible that may have helped him, and I began to mourn the loss of my dad right then. I became more of a recluse and a little rebellious. I kept my grades high in school, but I didn’t want to be there. In a way, I was a typical teen, but I wanted to grow up fast. During my high school stint, I was determined to become “health conscious”, more environmentally aware–more alive. I went vegan, poured myself into making art, and tried to forget that my dad was dying.

You could say that my favorite person in the world–my dear dad–set an example for me at a young age of how not to eat. I would watch him drive an insulin needle into his stomach each morning and each night, following the shot with a cocktail of pills, all the while not changing a single thing about his highly processed, vegetablely scarce diet. He could no longer walk and slowly every organ in his body was failing. This is a controversial topic in my family (whether bad food and sickness go hand in hand), but I’m not ashamed to speak my mind on the matter: I believe food and health are directly related.

At just 15 years old, I alleviated some of my despair of my dad’s rapidly declining health by focusing on my own health, and that of the animals and the planet. I had loved to cook since I was just a little kid, and decided that making vegan versions of all my favorite foods might help both me and my dad–although he was reluctant to eat most anything that wasn’t a steak, burger, tomatoes or potatoes… or certain types of candy. I was so excited about my new discovery of animal free cooking and tried hard to share it with him, but he simply wasn’t interested. He never caught on to my veganism, proclaiming that my diet was too restrictive and unhealthy. I felt defeated by his dismissal of my soy based Alfredo recipe and egg free spice cookies that I had created. At the time, I was eating well, researching nutrition, exercising, and was probably one of the healthiest people in my nuclear family–but, my parents and siblings thought otherwise. A few times during high school, I gave up veganism, but never for long. I always went back, and re-aligned myself with what made me want to become vegan in the first place–mostly because of what my father had taught me about compassion. I guess you could say I was having a bit of an identity crisis in my early to late teens, and I fully accept that it sometimes takes a while to figure out what sits best with one’s own values. I had the facts about veganism, but I also had many loved ones telling me that it was simply not okay to only eat plants. I grew up in the Midwest and veganism was not something that made any sense to most people there—including my family. I pressed on though, dabbling in and out of veganism throughout my teens and into my twenties.

The same month I graduated highschool, I got into a very abusive relationship. Even though I graduated with a 4.0 GPA, and had my sights set on college and grad school, my outlook was not good. The moment I left highschool, my life was full of things no girl should ever have to deal with. By my sophomore year in college, at 20 years old, I had been afflicted with the daily physical and mental abuse by my “boyfriend”, an eating disorder, an unplanned child and the death of my beloved dad. It was a tough ass time in my life. I plugged away though, continuing to go to college, and eventually became a single mom, enrolling my baby in daycare as I worked full-time and finished up my BFA.

After a year or so of dealing with being on my own, both from the loss of my dad, and as a single parent, things started to look up. I started to earn a lot of praise for my hard work from my college professors, I scored an internship with the local art museum, and I was on a path to earning my MFA in studio art, where my most supportive professors believed I could get into any program I wished.  My personal situation was getting better, good even, but my health was getting worse.

When I was in my early twenties, in my last year of college, I contracted meningitis. It was the scariest experience of my life and I am not exaggerating in the least when I say it completely changed me.

As I said, I was single at the time, but I was still looking for the love of my life—I knew he was somewhere out there. I met a very nice guy (a handsome drummer in a metal band with a very long beard and countless tattoos) and we dated for some time. On one of our very last dates we ate our regular noodle house. I ordered Pad Thai (my favorite) and drizzled it heavily with Sriracha (also my favorite… I have many favorites). I will never forget the feeling I had when I left the restaurant. My neck felt heavy and and achy; I thought I maybe had begun to catch the flu. It was February after all, and I hadn’t suffered yet with my usual winter sickness. I drove home where I was greeted by my roommate and a pile of dishes (typical, but hey, no grudges). My roommate wished me goodnight as she had to rise super early for work, and I went off to wash the dishes. It was at this time that I began to feel a headache unlike anything I have ever experienced before. Looking down to do the dishes caused the most excruciating pain in my neck and I began to think something was wrong. I quickly finished up and went straight to bed.

The next morning before class, I had to man my post as a barísta at Barnes and Noble’s cafe. Upon waking up, I noticed my headache had gotten much worse… it was becoming hard to see and very very painful to look down. I got dressed using every ounce of effort I had left in me and drove to work (awesome decision, right?). Luckily my son had stayed the night with my mother, so I didn’t put him in any danger by driving around. By the time I had gotten to work, I must have looked like hell because my boss immediately sent me home. I thought I was experiencing my very first migraine. Not soon after I arrived back home, I noticed that I was losing feeling in my legs, so I lay on my bed and called my mother, unable to support the phone with my own hand. I was terrified. By the time she had arrived my vision was going. Fast.

It only took a couple of hours of waiting in the ER before I went completely blind and my legs felt like they had been set on fire, or at least the parts of my legs I could still feel. I was screaming out loud for help; I couldn’t see anyone, but I could hear people talking in murmurs. After a spinal tap they had determined I had meningitis. I was moved to the Intensive Care Unit and remained there for almost two weeks, unable to see a thing and drugged up beyond belief. By the time I regained my vision, I was not the same person anymore–physically or mentally. Immediately, I had noticed that I had a giant rash on my forehead and my headache was still there, albeit a teensy bit less prominent. As soon as I recovered, or at least, enough to be released with a giant shot of morphine in my butt (which I continued to receive for several weeks), I felt like a switch had been turned on me. I’m not sure what happened, but I called my then boyfriend, invited him to get coffee and broke up with him that day. I chopped off all my long (painstakingly grown out) hair during an art performance piece at school. I fell madly in love with a boy (now my husband), gained and lost friends, and decided that becoming an art teacher and getting an MFA wasn’t what I wanted to pursue, all the while dealing with some very irritating side affects of recovering from meningitis. I graduated from college, kept making art, and set my sights on feeling better. Weekly doctor visits and referrals to specialists became my normal routine. MRIs, CAT scans and multiple blood tests were done over the course of years to try and figure out what was wrong with me.

After five years I was still suffering from the same symptoms I had days after recovering from meningitis. I had trained myself to deal with it day in and day out, constantly searching for answers from my neurologist, my primary care physician, my dermatologist and a few others who came and went over the years. My doctors and those specialists had determined I either had a case of Chronic Meningitis, or was slowly developing Rheumatoid Arthritis. At the time, I didn’t care what diagnosis I was given, I just wanted to feel better. For five years I had suffered daily with excruciating joint pain in my wrists and knees, a terrible rash that took over one third of my face, Dysesthesia of the skin (a randomly located, very painful fiery sensation on the skin caused by a neurological disorder), horrible daily migraines that made me very sensitive to light and noise, sores on the insides of my mouth that never seemed to heal and made it difficult to eat and drink, and pits and grooves all over my fingernails. By the end of my rope, right after I had just started this blog and had my second child, I was at my worst. I had chronic fatigue causing me to nod off at inappropriate times, and my body felt like it was made of lead. My migraines were so bad, I could barely stand to be awake even when I had some energy, and my joints and dysesthesia had gotten so painful that lifting up a pencil and paper was problematic. I honestly believed I was dying. I may have been.

The fortunate thing about that whole mess was that I had plenty of time to peruse blogs, what with my constant lying about on the couch. One of my favorites that I had just discovered was Gena’s blog, Choosing Raw. I’m not sure what made me forget that I truly believed food was thy medicine—perhaps I felt like veganism for me should have been “good enough”—but Gena’s crisp and encouraging writing and sensible advice brought it all back for me. And, a lot of desperation to regain my health gave me the drive I needed to do something different. Days within discovering Gena’s blog, I decided to give “high raw” a try. I honestly couldn’t fathom feeling any worse than I was at the time—and cutting out the baked goods, beer, and buttery spreads seemed like a sensible thing to do. My husband, also troubled by my rapidly declining health, joined me in my effort, to offer support and encouragement.

You guys, I shit you not when I say I was 90% better within a week. After 5 years straight of oftentimes debilitating symptoms, I finally felt fine. Great, in fact! I thought to myself, “this raw food diet is A. MAZE. ING. “  Concurrently, I was seeing a new doctor in the same clinic I had been going to for years, who I was hoping would be the one to finally give me answers. My other doctors just ordered blood tests, found nothing conclusive of what they were looking for, and prescribed me antidepressants and pain pills. After the first few doses, I simply stopped taking them. Once I had been switched to this new doctor, I let her know my concerns, and she immediately agreed to rigorously find some answers.  I had just had a ton of blood tests ordered before I started my self-initiated raw adventure, so when I went in for my follow-up appointment, I had some things to share with my doc, and she had some things to share with me. Serendipitously, my doctor had enlisted the help of a Med Student who was specializing in auto-immune disorders. After seeing my bloodwork, he stated that I either had Rheumatoid Arthritis, or Celiac Disease—as my tests came back indicating so.

He looked me sternly in the eye and said, “If you give up gluten for a few weeks, and your symptoms disappear, then we know what our answer is. If they don’t subside, then we’ll further investigate the possibility of RA. Also, we may want to do a biopsy, although those seem to be only partially effective in diagnosing celiac, and we may need to do it twice.” He mentioned that my bout with meningitis was probably what triggered it.

Although, hearing this was a shock to my system, I quickly rebutted with, “You know, I’ve just realized I’ve been gluten-free unknowingly—I think—for the past 20 days or so. I’ve been eating a mostly raw diet of only fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts, and the only slip ups I’ve had were red wine, hummus and chocolate. Funny thing is, most of my symptoms have completely disappeared. It’s really incredible. ” The Med Student smiled. He knew he had cracked the case.

My doctor looked dismayed, “Well, I have good news and bad news”, she said. “It looks like gluten might be the culprit here, and the bloodwork also supports this, but in order verify, you would have to have a biopsy… which would require you to ingest gluten again for at least 30 days straight–which I’m guessing you don’t want to do. And, there’s still a small chance that the results could be a false negative even if we go through with this.”

I opted out of the biopsy and we agreed to just monitor my health for the next few months. I went home armed only with a pamphlet about celiac disease and a very confused outlook on my new life—my doctor admitted she personally knew very little about the disease and suggest I Google it. Consider it done, doc.

I called my husband; I was crying. I thought my dreams of becoming a vegan cookbook author had died that day. He was thrilled, though. After 5 years of watching me suffer, and over time get worse, the potential to have an answer to my health riddles was a blessing for everyone involved. I personally was devastated, as I had just begun manifest:vegan and gluten was my life. I loved seitan, I loved bread, I loved beer. And I adored, beyond all those things, baking. I wrote a post about having to transition back in 2009, here. But, I don’t think it quite touches on my actual experience with discovering my gluten issue. I’m happy to report that since that one doctor visit, I have only returned a couple more times just to reassure her that everything was back to normal. And I am still okay, aside from some random bouts of dysesthesia when I get stressed, and the darned rash that still marks my forehead.

Today, my diet is admittedly quite different than it was several years ago. Obviously, I’ve cut out all gluten, and my body is so pleased with the change that even minute amounts of the stuff (cross contamination especially) will make my stomach bloat out and a migraine flair up. It’s puts me out for days. I’ve also retained that love for raw foods that I was introduced to a few years back. I’d say I eat a daily intake of 80% raw fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds, and 20% cooked foods, usually in the form of baked goods, cooked onions pasta and some form of chickpeas. And I feel fantastic.

I have been blessed with not so great health, but I work with what I’ve got. And, I feel as good today as I did when I was a kid. I’m full of energy again, my mind is clear, and best of all, I don’t dread waking up each day, unable to spend time with the ones I love due to pain or sleepiness.

Now, to the question that may be on everyone’s mind… Do I think that everyone should give up gluten?

No, I don’t. In fact, I envy those of you who can enjoy your vegan pizza delivery, seitan cheesetakes, fresh vegan donuts, and craft beer. But, do think that some of us have an intolerance to the stuff and we may not know it? Definitely. Especially if your experience is at all like mine. There is a significant number of people out there who are suffering from either celiac disease or another type of gluten intolerance and aren’t aware of it. For those of us who have been plagued with pain or other ailments with no real reason as to why, I think giving up gluten (totally, completely, 100% gluten-free) for a while is worth a a shot. And if it doesn’t help, then you’ll know that gluten isn’t a culprit. I’m certainly no nutrition or medical expert, so heed my advice with caution and please consult your physician when considering a dietary change. But, over the years I’ve met many who do have stories like mine. And, maybe some of you can relate as well. That’s why still I blog my [now gluten-free] recipes and write gluten-free vegan cookbooks–so that others, who also need to or choose to give up gluten and don’t know where to start, can find some solace in my “normal looking” recipes.  Although I started blogging to help bring awareness to veganism, I continue to blog to help others who may be in the same boat as me. Since veganism is very much a part of my beliefs, and I’m forced to be gluten-free, I know that it’s often hard to find good recipes that tackle both. So, I’m trying to help as best I can.

Thanks so much to all of you, bloggers, readers, and anyone else who has come into my life during this interesting journey. I hope that you find my story insightful, and for those of you who ask “why vegan and gluten-free?”, I hope this helps explain it.

For those of you who are gluten-free… did you experience anything similar to what I did, or is there another reason altogether you avoid gluten?

What do you non-gluten-free folks think of the rise in “gluten-free” labeling and products now available? I’d love to hear your thoughts. With all the talk about gluten-free in the mainstream these days, I find it fascinating to see how we all got here.











share this recipe...Share on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookEmail this to someoneShare on TumblrPrint this pageShare on Reddit

85 Responses to how I came to be a gluten-free vegan (my diagnosis with celiac disease)

  1. Kate says:

    Hi! I’m a dietitian, a celiac, and a food lover. This blog is absolutely amazing. I recently began my own blog, and reading your story is even more inspiring. It’s crazy how changing your food habits can effect your health, and I’m so grateful for the changes I was able to make. I’m also excited to try a few of your recipes–yum! :)

    • allyson says:

      Aw, this makes my day, Kate!! Thank you so much!! I agree, it is an amazing realization when you see the connection between food and health–liberating too!


  2. JessP says:

    I also follow a gluten free diet despite negative results on a blood test (I never had the intestinal biopsy because I was already follow a gluten free diet when it was discussed, and my GI doctor didn’t think it was necessary if the diet was working so well). I have been vegetarian for years, but just recently decided to become vegan. I agree with your statement about it just feeling like the more compassionate choice. Right now I am really missing cheese, but also really glad I’m not eating any animal byproducts.
    It sounds like you have had a rough time, thank you for creating this blog and sharing your recipes with the rest of us!

  3. Maggie says:

    Thank you for sharing your story! I just recently came across your blog, and I was so excited to find all the wonderful gluten-free/vegan recipes on it. My fiance has celiacs disease and type one diabetes, and I’ve been vegetarian most of my life. A few years ago, we decided that it was best for our health (and our love for all animals) to try to become vegan. It has been a struggle at times, but I think, in the end, it will be worth it. I often worry about my fiance’s health… especially with his diabetes, and I truly believe that eating a plant-based diet will help him avoid complications as he gets older. We have faced, as you have, resistance from our families, and my fiance’s family especially believes that I am endangering his health by promoting a vegan diet. Despite any research I am able to provide on the benefits of a vegan diet on almost any health condition, they are still convinced that a “meat and potatoes and cheese diet” is best (they are from the rural mid-west). It was in anticipation of spending this coming Thanksgiving with his family that I came across your blog in hopes to find some delicious recipes to bring. So, again, thank you, and I can’t wait to try out some of your recipes next week!

  4. KC says:

    I’m 20 years old, and going into my junior year of college. I’ve never been a good eater. Growing up I’ve never liked much meat, not a huge fan of milk (though I LOVE cheese) and I’ve NEVER eaten fish, I also have not eaten enough veggies. So I’ve been for the most part vegetarian for most of my life.

    We found out had pretty bad iron deficiency anemia around 7th grade. They blamed the fact that I didn’t eat meat (or enough green veggies which was true because I lived on cereal and cheese quesadillas). They told me to take a iron supplement 3 times a day for a few months. Those things are NASTY, it made my stomach cramp up so bad and they made me feel awful. My mother however loved them and made me take them. A few months later they tested my iron again and it was a little low but in the normal range. This happened again when I was a Freshman in high school and again I took the nasty iron pills.

    Sophomore year I decided to give blood. They had to test my iron 3 times because it was borderline and finally I got to donate. 6 months later I tried to donate again but they thought their machines were broken (you need a 12 to pass) it didn’t even read my iron levels they were so low. I went into my doctor and they freaked out.

    Long story short the iron supplements stopped working as well and pretty much all together, and I’ve been very anemic for the past 5 years and on and off the past 8 years.

    My symptoms are fairly moderate (my doctor says I’ve been anemic so long that I don’t know any better and I’m used to feeling crappy… I didn’t really believe her until I got my first infusion… My friends all say I got REALLY ADHD afterwords.

    One day I woke up REALLY late for class and I was nearing the end of my really long, and heavy period which makes me feel even more tired, and I was late to class. I had to facilitate a discussion, which was a big deal for this class. Honestly I probably couldn’t have told you what 2+2 was that day I was so exhausted and run down so it is safe to say I did a HORRENDOUS job facilitating. For the very first time I talked to the teacher and used the Anemia excuse, which yes I still feel lame for doing.

    She said show me proof and I’ll take it into consideration. So I decided to go and see the on campus health center. Before this I believed them to be a bunch of hokey people without real degrees because every time I’d gone in there with ANY symptoms they said it was allergies (I’ve never had allergies before!). Anywho. The doctor asks what is the matter and I just say that I’m feeling really tired and run down and I think I’m anemic and I want to just get a test and see. She starts asking me all these questions and thoroughly seems interested. She asks me if I get stomach aches ever when I eat or if I’d ever been tested for Celiac Sprue and in my head I’m thinking what a quack! Just get me my blood test so I can be out of here!

    She also asks if it is okay is she runs some additional tests to rule out Celiac Sprue. I say yah but really I am still questioning her competence as she is rambling about her neighbor with similar symptoms and how they are friends and she has Celiac Sprue.

    A week or so later they call me and tell me I need to make a follow up appointment. When I go in she has a very somber look about her. She says basically there is good news and bad news. She said she thought she knew what was wrong with me, but she thinks it is Celiac Disease. She gives me my results, tells me to go see a gastroenterologist and to KEEP eating gluten until then.

    I look at my results and it basically said below a 5 and it is negative 5-8 (could go either way?) and above 8 was positive. Mine was at like 27 or some crazy number like that. But we went to the stinking gastroenterologist. He was VERY surprised my college doctor gave the right test and noticed it at all seeing as how I had so little symptoms.

    The upper endoscopy was a NIGHTMARE. My spring break was HORRIBLE. It consisted of doing chores the first few days for my mother, working, a 4 hour iron infusion. A 4 hour ER visit from the minor allergic reaction (i didn’t take benydril), then the following day I sat and was shouted at by the anesthesiologist. I’m sorry I know I’m 20 and shouldn’t need my mom to hold my hand still. BUT I AM the baby of the family and it was my FIRST time being put under with anesthesia so I was already nervous. The fact that they were very rude about my wanting to keep my chest covered and stay modest made me more upset. And finally the fact that the nurse poked me 5 times and couldn’t get the iv in didn’t help either. Yet here is the anesthesiologist who gets paid VERY well I might add. Yelling at me asking me what is wrong and to stop crying. I was overwhelmed, tired and scared, and I watch WAY too much Grey’s Anatomy where the small procedures are the ones where the people die, and people are allergic to the anesthesia and I’m fairly certain I am a minor hypochondriac because when I got a cough this week I was sure I had bronchitis and it would turn into pneumonia… The list goes on! Anyhow the anesthesiologist was a big meanie and I didn’t like him.

    When I woke up from the anesthesia they had handed my mom a paper that said that “The presence of Celiac Disease was DOUBTFUL”. So I have to admit I was excited. But about 2 weeks later I got a phone call from the guy who did the endoscopy and he was half laughing and was like “yah! you DEFINITELY have Celiac Disease! There is NO doubt!” He said it like I had just won a decent lottery ticket or scratch it like wow you actually won a 100 dollars! I was not so pleased.

    Anyhow that was in March and I’m SO hesitant to start going Gluten Free. I’ve been trying for the past week but it didn’t really make me feel different and then my friend made a cake and I REALLY wanted it… So. I AM DEFINITELY struggling!

    I’m trying and hoping it will get easier. But there is my story if anyone actually read through ALL of that lol.

  5. MK says:

    I ended up going vegan almost accidentally when I got a diagnosis of lactose intolerance about 5 years ago — the only cookbooks I found that were helpful were all vegan. And going dairy-free seemed to almost cure the chronic digestive troubles I’d had for almost 20 years. I’ve wavered on veganism (and never really bothered with the intermediate step of vegetarianism, given the amount of cheese in vegetarian cookbooks) since, going in deep, backing out.

    But last year, at a low point in my health, feeling utterly exhausted, drained, and physically worthless, I was referred to a naturopath who did a blood panel for food allergies. About a year ago, I was advised to cut out gluten, egg, and soy, as well as a host of other foods, on top of the dairy. In reaction, I ate a pretty unhealthy diet for a few months — any junk food I could eat, I did, plus a decent amount of coffee and alcohol, but despite that, I felt a billion times better.

    I’ve since done food challenges for each food to see what my body will do with them — partly to see if I can have those foods again, and partly to know how diligent I need to be. So far, I’ve found I can tolerate soy sauce, but no other soy products. Gluten is not so big a problem that I need to fear cross-contamination, but it about puts me in a coma. I’m back to eating meats sometimes, but still working on finding my best balance of foods.

    I’m definitely looking forward to trying out some of your recipes. Gluten-free baking has been… less than perfect for me so far, and I do miss it greatly.

  6. Carol L. says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I can’t tell you how excited I was to happen upon your blog. I have an Autoimmune disorder called Autoimmune Hepatitis, and was diagnosed 12 years ago, and have had numerous other complications that had developed over the years. My health had declined, similarly like yours, just daily chores was all I could handle. I was always bloated and nauseated and got sick to my stomach on average 3 to 4 times a week. It was like having morning sickness for 3 years. I could never plan things or make commitments cause I was sick at the drop of a hat.

    Then I went to a chiropractor who did this thing called QRA testing, and it showed I couldn’t handle wheat or dairy, and neither could my 13 year old. So on June 1 this year we gave up both. I haven’t been sick to my stomach since. It was amazing after just a week of giving up those two things I felt better than I had in 12 years. It was so wonderful. So nutrition became my passion. I can’t get enough I research, and read. And after watching Fork over Knives and Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead I made the choice to go Vegan. My husband joined me a die hard meat eater. But being able to change many of the recipes I found still had wheat, so when I found your sight through Pinetrest Pin I was thrilled.

    I just bought your book, should be here on Monday can’t wait. Thank you again as a newbie to this it’s so nice to have a cookbook that feels it was tailored to me. Oh and by the way, just after two months my liver count is the closest to normal they’ve ever been.


  7. Jessica says:

    It’s so great to hear your story! I’ve been a vegetarian for 3 years. I was vegan for the first 9 months, and then gave up because “it was too hard.”

    I’ve had chronic illnesses since childhood and since I was 13 I’ve had chronic migraines, fatigue, depression, anxiety, insomnia, muscle aches, and digestion problems (just to name a few). After years of visiting doctors and specialists, I had all but given up hope that there was any healing in my future.

    Just last week I visited a new doctor (she has her degrees in naturopathic medicine and nutrition). She suggested that I may have gluten and dairy intolerance. Anyway I can’t no far sure yet, I just cut out gluten and dairy less than a week ago, but I have high hopes that this may finally be my answer. Your blog gives me more hope and inspiration!

    If you ever have the time I would love for some advice? I feel like I’ve been thrown into a whole new world. Almost everything I used to eat, I can’t anymore. And there seems to be no going out to eat with friends anymore. I was hoping that you had some words of wisdom or practicals to helping those of us who are new to this lifestyle? I feel overwhelmed and I don’t know where t start, how to start building my collection of recipes and my pantry etc…

    Anyway thank you for your blog, and hopefully in a few weeks or months I will be able to comment back with my success story (*fingers crossed*).

  8. maya says:

    My story is not as dramatic as yours, but similar nonetheless. I went to many doctors seeking answers until I found one who told me to go gluten free. I recently have gone Vegan for health reasons as well, and I am encouraged by finding your blog and discovering that I am not alone on this path.

  9. Ellie says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. I stumbled upon your blog in my search for delicious vegan food. I’m not gluten free, but I like to cook that way sometimes as it is good for all of us to eat a varied diet. What a fun way to get different grains into one’s diet!

    I also thank you for sharing your story because it gives others strength. I have had a rough past 2 years, following the end of a marriage. Seeing that others have overcome tough situations is heartening to me.

    I’m so glad you’re feeling better–what a journey!

  10. Thank you, Allyson! Just found your blog today and am really enjoying it. What a rough journey you had to get to this gluten-free better place. It floored me how long and hard it was for someone in my life to get the celiac diagnosis despite having relatives with the same thing. So much suffering could have been avoided. Five years sounds long, and it is, but I’m glad it was not even longer for you. And I’m glad you’re sharing all your hard-won gluten-free vegan recipes, thanks!

  11. Jacquelyn says:

    Thank you for sharing your story and your recipes! Two and a half years ago I decided to change to a vegan diet due to discovering that I have a severe dairy allergy. The symptoms were present throughout my entire life, but it just took me twenty-six years to figure it out. Even a trace amount of dairy can cause severe gastrointestinal distress, hives, or even asthma-like respiratory problems. I never knew how mild or severe the allergic reaction will be and I’ve had a few close calls so I carry Benedryl Allergy pills with me wherever I go. There is only one restaurant I feel comfortable eating out, so I almost never dine out anymore.

    When I first went vegan, I lost a bit of weight and felt fantastic. At the time, though I was unaware of it, my vegan diet was very low in wheat as I was living in southern California so my vegan meals were either Southwestern/Mexican inspired using corn as a base or Asian inspired using brown rice. However, about six months after going vegan, I moved across the country to Virginia and began to consume more wheat products: whole wheat breads, whole wheat pastas, etc. In an extremely short amount of time and despite a very balanced, healthy vegan diet, my weight increased to probably the heaviest I had ever been. I was so frustrated, I was ready to just give up.

    Around that time, my mother and younger sister discovered they had an allergy to wheat, especially my mother who would get migraines and her face and tongue would swell within a few hours after eating even small amounts of wheat. Though I did not have the migraines or swelling, sometimes this type of food sensitivities and allergies can run in families, so my mother recommended that I try removing wheat from my diet.

    By this time, I was desperate for answers to my weight problem and gave it a try. I began to feeling better… like when I first went vegan and was not eating hardly any wheat. Gradually, over six months the weight came off. It has been a year since I went wheat free, and I am almost back to where I was in high school. I noticed from my own experimentation that when I consume wheat, within a few hours I get a bad acne break out and, if I eat wheat for a few days, I see the scale jump five to ten pounds. I do not have the gastrointestinal symptoms that are common with celiac disease, so I probably have a different type of wheat intolerance.

    So, in a nutshell, I went vegan to find relief from my severe dairy allergy. Then I went wheat-free to fix my weight problem. People give me weird looks when they find out I am a wheat-free vegan, even weirder since I do not have (as far as I know based on the symptoms) celiac disease. I am just relieved to be able to finally be healthy and happy. My current diet is probably 50/50 raw and cooked, but I am working on increasing my raw intake. My goal is to be somewhere around 60/40 or 70/30 (raw to cooked). I’m even doing my own sprouts now: broccoli, onion, alfalfa, fenugreek, lentils, etc. It is so easy, fun, and delicious. =)

  12. Janie says:

    Thanks for sharing your story! I too, am an “accidental” gluten-free eater. Went on a diet that eliminated starches and lots of problems I had went away too. And I can’t say for sure I have celiac because, like you, I opted to not go back on gluten,suffer, get poked and prodded, only to be told not to eat it. I love all the new products, though I try to steer away from too much processed food. I’ve been gluten-free for about 11 years and vegan for a little over a year (vegetarian before that for nearly forever). Back then, we didn’t have brown rice noodles and Amy’s gf vegan pizzas, so I got creative with cabbage “noodles” and green bean “noodles”. I put a cabbage noodle recipe on my blog,, since I really like them and they keep the pounds off too. :)

  13. WOW! What an amazing story! Thank you very much for sharing your inspiring tale. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to deal with your illness while taking care of a child! My baby is a handful alone. Thank you for inspiring me to continue on my healthy living journey. Makes me remember to enjoy every day of health to the fullest. Thanks again!!