Can vegans eat gluten free pasta?

Quick Answer

Yes, vegans can absolutely eat gluten-free pasta. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, so gluten-free pasta is typically made from ingredients like rice, quinoa, corn or buckwheat. As long as the pasta doesn’t contain any animal products or by-products, it is considered vegan friendly. Many brands of gluten-free pasta are explicitly labelled as vegan.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a group of proteins found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. Specifically, gluten consists of the proteins gliadin and glutenin. When flour from these grains is mixed with water, the gluten proteins form elastic strands that give bread and other baked goods their chewy texture.

People with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity experience digestive issues when they eat gluten. For these individuals, following a strict gluten-free diet is essential to manage their symptoms. Gluten irritation can damage the small intestine and lead to malabsorption of nutrients.

What is Gluten-Free Pasta?

Gluten-free pasta is pasta made without any ingredients that contain gluten. There are a few different types of gluten-free pasta:

  • Rice pasta – Made from rice flour or rice starch
  • Corn pasta – Made from corn flour, corn starch or masa
  • Quinoa pasta – Made from quinoa flour
  • Buckwheat pasta – Made from buckwheat flour
  • Legume pasta – Made from chickpea flour or lentil flour

Rice pasta and corn pasta tend to be the most common types found in grocery stores. Gluten-free pasta usually has a slightly different taste and texture than traditional wheat pasta. It’s often described as lighter and more delicate.

Are Gluten-Free Pasta and Wheat Pasta Nutritionally Different?

Gluten-free and wheat pasta vary slightly in their nutritional profiles:


Wheat pasta contains more protein than most gluten-free pasta. A 2 oz dry serving of wheat pasta has around 7 grams of protein, while rice pasta contains 4 grams. Gluten-free pasta made from legumes or quinoa tends to be higher in protein.


Most gluten-free pasta has less fiber than wheat pasta. Again, a 2 oz serving of wheat pasta has around 2-3 grams of fiber. Rice pasta only has about 1 gram of fiber for the same serving size.

Vitamins and Minerals

When it comes to vitamins and minerals, there aren’t huge nutritional differences between wheat and gluten-free pasta. Wheat pasta contains small amounts of iron and B vitamins. Gluten-free varieties have comparable vitamin and mineral profiles.


Gluten-free and wheat pasta have a similar number of carbs. A 2 oz dry serving of either type typically contains around 40 grams of carbohydrate.

So in summary, gluten-free pasta tends to be lower in protein and fiber compared to wheat pasta. But it can be part of a balanced diet, especially for those who need to avoid gluten. Adding legumes, vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats can help improve the nutrition of gluten-free pasta meals.

Is Gluten-Free Pasta Vegan?

Plain dried gluten-free pasta made from ingredients like rice, corn, quinoa or legumes is almost always vegan. These plant-based flours and starches contain no animal products.

However, some fresh gluten-free pasta varieties may contain eggs or dairy. For example, fresh pasta made in restaurants could potentially be made with eggs.

It’s important to check the ingredients label and look for “vegan” claims before purchasing fresh gluten-free pasta. Common animal-derived ingredients to look out for include:

  • Eggs
  • Milk or milk derivatives like casein
  • Honey
  • Whey or other dairy powders

If the pasta contains no animal products in the ingredients list, and isn’t processed on shared equipment that handles dairy, it should be vegan friendly.

Many popular brands of packaged gluten-free pasta are labelled as vegan, like:

  • Barilla gluten-free pasta
  • Banza chickpea pasta
  • Jovial brown rice pasta
  • Tinkyada rice pasta
  • Tolerant organic lentil pasta
  • Explore Asian mung bean pasta

So checking labels is the best way for vegans to identify gluten-free pasta options that fit with their diet.

Do Vegans Need to Eat Gluten-Free?

Vegans do not necessarily need to eat gluten-free, unless they have celiac disease, a wheat allergy or gluten sensitivity. A vegan diet means excluding all animal products – it does not require elimination of gluten.

Some people find they feel better on a vegan gluten-free diet, while others don’t notice any difference after cutting out gluten.

There are a few reasons why someone may choose to eat both vegan and gluten-free:

  • They have an allergy or intolerance to gluten
  • They want to cut out all grain-based products
  • They feel better without gluten and animal products
  • They want recipes to be inclusive for family or friends with celiac disease

But for healthy individuals without a medical need to avoid gluten, a vegan diet can include gluten-containing grains like wheat, barley and rye. Oats are naturally gluten-free so those can be included as well.

Tips for Following a Vegan Gluten-Free Diet

For vegans who do choose to cut gluten from their diet, here are some tips for success:

prioritize Whole Food Nutrition

Focus on getting nutrition from fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils and gluten-free whole grains like rice, corn and quinoa. This helps ensure adequate fiber intake.

Learn Hidden Sources of Gluten

Gluten can lurk in unexpected places like soy sauce, salad dressings, soups and even French fries that are dusted in flour. Get in the habit of diligently reading labels.

Enjoy Naturally Gluten-Free Foods

Foods like beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, lentils, chickpeas and rice provide nutrients without containing any gluten. Explore these nourishing foods.

Branch Out with Gluten-Free Flours

Flours like almond, coconut, chickpea and tapioca can be used to bake delicious vegan gluten-free treats. Get creative in the kitchen with gluten-free flours.

Supplement Nutrients

Without fortified gluten grains, vegans may need supplements to get enough vitamin B12, iron, calcium, zinc and omega-3s. Ask your doctor if supplements are recommended.

buy Gluten-Free Substitutes

Purchase gluten-free vegan versions of foods like bread, crackers, cereal, pasta and baked goods. Several brands offer plant-based gluten-free products.

Delicious Vegan Gluten-Free Pasta Dishes

Here are some tasty ideas for vegan gluten-free pasta recipes:

Vegan Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese

Make an irresistible vegan mac and “cheese” with gluten-free pasta, creamy cashew sauce, nutritional yeast and roasted veggies.

Vegan Thai Peanut Noodle Bowls

Rice noodles, edamame, carrots, red pepper, cilantro and peanut sauce come together for mouthwatering Thai pasta bowls.

Vegan Veggie Lo Mein

Lo mein noodles, broccoli, bell peppers, mushrooms, carrots and green onions sautéed in a tamari and sesame oil sauce.

Vegan Tofu “Ricotta” Lasagna

Layer gluten-free lasagna noodles with vegetarian marinara, veggies, and a tofu “ricotta” for a comforting pasta bake.

Vegan Pad Thai

For a vegan gluten-free twist on pad thai, make it with rice noodles, tofu, peanuts and a tangy tamarind sauce.

Potential Drawbacks of Gluten-Free Vegan Diet

Although a gluten-free vegan diet can be healthy for some, there are a few potential downsides to consider:

  • May be low in nutrients – without fortified breads and cereals, getting adequate B12, iron, folate, zinc and fiber takes effort
  • Risk of cross contamination – those with celiac disease must be vigilant about avoiding cross contact with gluten
  • Social challenges – dining out and traveling can be tricky with a gluten-free vegan diet
  • Higher cost – gluten-free substitutes are often pricier than wheat-based products
  • Difficulty sticking with it long term – any restrictive diet can be hard to maintain over a lifetime without “cheating”

Working with a dietitian knowledgeable in both vegan diets and celiac disease can help overcome potential nutrient shortfalls. Planning ahead helps handle social situations gracefully. And giving yourself permission for occasional indulgences makes it more sustainable long term.

The Bottom Line

Vegans can choose to eat gluten-free pasta made from ingredients like rice, quinoa or beans. Plain dried gluten-free pasta is nearly always vegan. Fresh gluten-free pasta may contain eggs, so check labels carefully.

Vegans don’t inherently need to follow a gluten-free diet. But for those who can’t tolerate gluten or simply feel better without it, a balanced vegan gluten-free diet is certainly achievable with planning. Emphasizing whole foods and supplements as needed can help vegans who go gluten-free stay healthy.

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