Vegans eat gluten, OK?

Illustration by Sarah Hansel

Who started the misconception that vegans don’t eat gluten? Is it because of Beyoncé’s three-week vegan cleanse to lose weight a few years ago that got confused with the gluten-free weight-loss diet fad? I’ve been to dozens of bakeries, restaurants and stores inquiring if an item on offer is vegan, and the response is often, “There’s no gluten in it.” Translation: The employees selling those products do not know what the words “gluten” or “vegan” mean. To be clear, gluten is protein from wheat. Wheat is a plant. Vegans are people who eat only plants. So let’s educate the folks at the places we patronize—without being patronizing. When the answer is about gluten and not animal products, respond positively: “Since gluten is protein from wheat and vegans only eat plants, gluten is fine for vegans. But are there any animal products in this dish? Because I’m not OK with eating animal products.”