Are you a vegetarian who was recently diagnosed with IBS? If so, you may be wondering if it’s possible to combine the low FODMAP diet with a vegetarian lifestyle. The answer is yes, but as you can imagine, it does require a little extra work. You have probably noticed that many vegetarian staple foods are high FODMAP (think beans, wheat-based breads and pastas, hummus, and soy milk). But not to fear! There are many low FODMAP vegetarian swaps to choose from, and you will still get lots of great protein.
To ensure best results and adequate nutrition, we highly recommended working with a FODMAP trained dietitian before combining these two restrictive diets. A dietitian can help ensure that you are consuming all the essential nutrients – especially protein, calcium, B12, and iron – while not over restricting.
Your dietitian may also recommend a modified low FODMAP diet focused more on reducing frequently consumed FODMAPs. The overall nutrition goal is to consume the most varied and diverse diet while achieving IBS symptom improvement.
Nutrient-Dense Foods that are Vegetarian & Low FODMAP
Emphasis on a wide variety of protein-rich and nutrient-dense sources ensures adequate intake of all the essential amino acids that our bodies require. For example, the DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is 0.36 grams of protein per pound (0.8 grams per kg) of body weight. This means a 150 pound (68.2 kg) person would require 55 grams of protein per day. Here are some protein and nutrient rich foods that are both vegetarian and low FODMAP.
Quinoa is rich in protein, fiber, B vitamins and more. This delicious grain can be enjoyed warm or cold. I recommend cooking this with a low FODMAP broth and having it as a savory side.
I also enjoy cooking up a large batch and adding a scoop to my salads. If you are a quinoa fan, you may also want to check out Ancient Harvest Quinoa Flakes, which heat up like oats and Ancient Harvest Quinoa Pasta for pasta dishes.
I’m not sure what’s easier than opening up a can and rinsing what’s inside. Pulses are a high priority vegetarian food that not only contain protein and fiber, but also prebiotics, which have a beneficial effect on our gut bacteria.
Be sure to use the Monash low FODMAP app for more details on pulses and their allotted serving size. Feel free to consume the low FODMAP portion at several meals each day as long as these are spaced by three to four hours.
Why canned and drained? FODMAPs are water soluble so the galactans leach into the water reducing the overall FODMAP load. Add to salads, soups, tacos, and more.
Here are some pulses that are low FODMAP in small to moderate serving sizes:
- Adzuki beans – boiled and canned
- Black beans – boiled and canned
- Butter beans – canned
- Chickpeas – canned
- Edamame – these are often found in the frozen food aisle shelled or in the pod.
- Lentils – canned and drained
- Pinto beans – canned
Nuts and Seeds
All nuts and seeds are low FODMAP aside from cashews and pistachios; however, you need to watch your portions as some have rather small low FODMAP servings. For example, you can enjoy ten almonds at breakfast, lunch, and dinner if desired.
For a tasty, nutty treat you may want to try InnoFoods Coconut Clusters, just keep your portion to the suggested serving size. These are often found at Costco and of course on Amazon.
Soy milk is a protein rich milk alternative that can be high or low in FODMAPs based on the processing. Soy milk made from soy protein is low FODMAP and soy milk made from soybeans is high FODMAP due to the galactans.
8th Continent Soy Milk is one of the few low FODMAP soy milks I have found in the US. You are more likely to find soy milk made from soy protein more often in countries outside of the US.
For those lacto-ovo vegetarians, dairy is an excellent protein and calcium source. Regular dairy products can easily be substituted with a lactose-free alternative. Check out Green Valley Creamery for a wide variety of lactose-free alternatives that are low FODMAP certified. Other popular lactose free dairy products are:
- Fairlife Milk
- Lifeway Kefir
- Lactaid Milk and Cottage Cheese
- Activia Lactose Free – Vanilla and Strawberry
Daiya Shreds, Blocks and Slices are all low FODMAP and really one of the better tasting vegan cheeses on the market.
If you’re craving more options, check out this new vegan cheese on the market, Follow Your Heart’s Vegan Feta Crumbles. I have confirmed with the manufacturer that there is no garlic or onion in the natural flavors.
Soy cheese is technically low FODMAP at two slices or 40 grams per Monash. I have some concerns regarding some soy cheeses in the US as most contain high FODMAP ingredients such as garlic, inulin, or chicory root.
Quorn is a meal alternative made from myoprotein, a derivative of a fungus.This product is low FODMAP per Monash and falls under the term vegetarian mince in the app. Not all Quorn products are low FODMAP as some contain moderate / high FODMAP ingredients such as wheat flour, garlic and onion.
If you’re interested in trying Quorn, I would recommend reaching for the Meatless Grounds – it makes a great addition to your favorite low FODMAP marinara sauce.
Firm tofu is low FODMAP and takes on the flavor of the seasoning. Firm tofu can either be crumbled, baked, fried, sautéed, or grilled.
-Silken tofu is considered high FODMAP so it is best to avoid.
-Watch out for flavored baked tofus as they often contain garlic.
-Try this delicious recipe, Tasty Marinated Tofu by IBS Nutrition.
Plain Tempeh is low FODMAP per Monash at 1 slice or 100 grams. Tempeh is savory, nutty, and chewy. Similar to tofu, it takes on the flavor of the seasonings and sauces used to prepare it.
Reach for a tempeh made from soy and avoid those made with high FODMAP grains such as barley. Beware of seasoned tempeh as it often contains garlic or onion.
If you’re looking for a delicious way to incorporate tempeh, you should definitely try Marinated Peanut Tempeh by Minimalist Baker. Even your carnivore friends will really enjoy this dish. Trust me! I have served this many times without fail.
Seitan is actually made from wheat gluten, which is both low FODMAP and a solid protein source. Fructans are the high FODMAP component of wheat, not the gluten.
Seitan is mild in flavor and tastes similar to chicken or a portobello mushroom. It is also similar to tofu in that it takes on the flavor of the seasonings that you add. It can be challenging to find at the store as many seitan-based products are marinated and contain garlic. After further inspection, here are a few brands that appear low FODMAP.
Note: Setitan is not suitable for those with celiac.
Spirulia is a blue or green algae that is rich in protein, iron, and B vitamins. This powder can be added to smoothies, yogurt, beverages of choice, or just sprinkled over salads or vegetables.
Due to the mixed results with recent pea protein testing, I have some hesitation recommending pea protein based meat alternatives. To provide similar protein content of regular beef based products, these products often contain large quantities of pea protein.
If you want to give it a go, test tolerance with a small portion when symptoms are under good control. If it goes well, increase to a full serving as tolerated. If you are looking for a pea protein powder, please see both the Monash App and FODMAP Friendly for a list of several certified brands.
Vegan Meat Substitutes
So here’s the thing. Many already prepared meat substitutes are high FODMAP as they often contain soy protein concentrate, textured soy protein, garlic, onions, beans (we can assume these are not canned and drained), and pea protein. The natural flavors found in these products often contain garlic and onion as well.
The only low FODMAP veggie burgers that I’ve discovered are from Sunshine Burger. Try both the Original and Garlic Herb varieties and let me know what you think!
Another important nutrient that is often lacking in a vegetarian and vegan’s diet is Vitamin B-12. My favorite low FODMAP protein and B-12 rich product is nutritional yeast flakes. They are amazing sprinkled on popcorn, cooked vegetables, gluten-free pasta, potatoes, and more.
We hope this article provided you with some new tips and tricks for discovering low FODMAP vegetarian friendly foods. Be sure to let us know your favorite products in the comments!