How to Be Vegan with a Nut Allergy 

Can you be vegan if you have food allergies, especially peanut and tree nut allergies? Find out how not only can you be happily plant based, but the benefits of being on a nut free vegan diet while meeting all of your nutritional needs and enjoying tasty food. 

Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables in boxes. A graphic on the front of the image says, "how to be vegan with a nut allergy".

While it’s true that a vegan or plant based lifestyle has you cut out traditionally major food groups (meat, dairy, eggs, fish, and honey) it is not only possible but enjoyable to eat a vegan diet with food allergies. 

This article will walk you through all you need to know about maintaining a balanced vegan diet with a nut allergy. There are tons of tips and tricks are in this article because I grew up with a peanut and tree nut allergy!  I know first hand what this is like and want you to succeed just like I have. Let’s dive in!

Can I be Vegan with a Nut Allergy? 

Short answer: Yes! It just takes a little extra planning when first getting started but after that, it is no more challenging than being a vegan that does eat nuts. 

Nuts and their products are a fairly common ingredient in plant-based diets. They can include things like peanuts, cashews, almonds, and macadamias as some of the most common nuts used in plant based products. 

The good news is that although nuts are a common ingredient, they are not necessary to a nutritionally sound vegan diet. Many vegans exist without eating nuts. 

Foods to Avoid 

In general, you’ll want to avoid the more processed food options to keep your chances of encountering nuts to a minimum. The foods that most commonly have peanuts or tree nuts includes:

  • Nut butters (peanut butter, cashew butter, almond butter, etc) 
  • Nut-based plant milks (almond, cashew, etc)
  • Granola
  • Cereals
  • Breads 
  • Vegan Cheeses
  • Vegan Butters 

Tip! ALWAYS read the food ingredient labels on products you purchase. You never know when a company will change the ingredients so to be safe, you’ll always want to make sure that you buy things that don’t have any allergens. 

My Favorite Nut-Free Vegan Foods 

Aside from the usual list of naturally nut-free vegan foods of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, seeds, and soy products, there are so many other store-bought products that I love that are nut free. Here are some of my favorites.

  • Plant Based Milks: Unsweetened and unflavored soy milk is my hands down favorite. Rice milk and oat milk are also fantastic. If you can have it, coconut milk makes for a great option. 
  • Seed Butters: Sunflower Seed Butter and Soy Butter are my two favorite go-tos for all recipes that require peanut butter. Tahini can also be used in a lot of savory peanut dishes as a perfect swap! 
  • Vegan Butter: Earth Balance makes both a tub butter and a stick butter that work great. “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” also make baking sticks that are nut free. 
  • Vegan Whipped Cream: Whole Foods makes a soy based frozen whipped cream topping that is fantastic. 
  • Vegan Cheese: This one is the most difficult. If you can enjoy coconut, I really like Daiya Cheese shreds. They are peanut and tree nut free but do contain coconut. For totally peanut and tree nut free cheese, I suggest making your own at home. For a great recipe to get you started, check out my nut free plant based queso! 

Nut Free Protein Sources

When first going vegan, one of the most common questions is always, “if I can’t eat nuts, how will I get my protein?!” 

A graphic containing cartoons of different high protein vegan foods like tofu, tempeh, quinoa, and mushrooms.

I have fantastic news: There are so many options for protein that don’t require nuts! Here is a list of some of the most widely available ones. 

  • Soy (including tofu, tempeh, and edamame)
  • Mushrooms 
  • Quinoa
  • Seitan 
  • Seeds (pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds) 
  • Seed butters (sunflower seed butter, pumpkin seed butter, etc) 
  • Wheat 
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Spelt
  • Teff 
  • Spirulina
  • Amaranth 
  • Oats
  • Vegan Mock Meats
  • Protein Rich Fruits and Veggies!
    • Broccoli, brussel sprouts, spinach, asparagus, potatoes, sweet potatoes, artichokes, corn, guava, blackberries, blueberries, bananas 

Legumes are a fantastic source of protein. Now, I share this with a word of caution because people with peanut allergies in particular can have a cross reaction to legumes, sometimes. You don’t have to avoid these foods if you’ve never had a reaction in the past. 

  • Chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans)
  • Pinto beans
  • Black beans
  • Lentils
  • Split peas
  • Green peas
  • Black-eyes peas

Nutritional Considerations 

Whenever you start a plant based diet, no matter if you are able to eat nuts or not, you’ll want to make sure that you are getting an adequate amount of the essential nutrients including proteins, calcium, iron, vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D. 

One of the ways I make sure that I meet these requirements being vegan with food allergies is to take a good multivitamin every day. There are some plant based doctors who think you don’t need one if you are eating vegan, but I have found in my experience that I disagree. Taking a daily multivitamin with food allergies makes sure that I’m getting these minimum requirements. 

Some of my favorite brands are MegaFoods, Solaray, and Mary Ruth’s. I’ve used these companies for years and really like the quality of their products. Not sponsored, I just really like them!! 

Finally, if you have more questions, reach out to a vegan dietitian or nutritionist for personalized advice. 

Dining Out and Social Situations 

The main challenge when being allergic to nuts while being vegan is going to be dining out at restaurants. There is already a reduced menu for most places since we are vegan, and adding a nut allergy on top of that can make things challenging. 

Tip! The most common places where you’ll encounter peanuts/tree nuts are in: Airplanes, airports, bars, breweries, and restaurants. 

The best way to try to avoid getting sick at restaurants is to research ahead of time and only eat at restaurants that don’t have a lot of nuts on the menu. 

Most restaurants post their menus online, giving you a chance to figure out if this is a safe place to eat. Even if the menu says “allergy friendly” you should still research and contact the restaurant with any questions because it is basically impossible to ensure a kitchen can safely prepare food when you have severe allergies. 

For nut and peanut allergies in particular it is important to ask the restaurant about cross contamination in the frying process as they often use the same fryer for french fried, fried chicken, and fried shrimp. 

When attending social gatherings and potlucks, you have more freedom in that you can bring your own nut-free vegan dishes that you know will be safe! Make sure to communicate with the hosts ahead of the party, informing them of your allergies, and asking for clarification on any foods if necessary. 

Hidden Sources of Nuts not in Food 

Beyond food, there are places that peanut and tree nuts can hide. Look to places like medications, skin care products, hair care products, cleaning products, lotions, and make up. 

These often contain things like almond oils which can make you sick. 

Top Tips for Beginning Vegans

  1. Don’t Let Perfect Be the Enemy of Good. Deciding to add more vegan meals into your life is such an amazing choice for yourself! So when first starting out, don’t sweat the small stuff. For example, if you love having dessert after dinner, like chocolate or ice cream, you can still have those things! Just choose the vegan versions of it. No one said you have to be raw vegan right off the starting line.
  2. Keep a Well Stocked Pantry. How many nights do you get home from work and want something quick and easy but end up ordering take out? This is all too easy to do. That’s why keeping a well stocked pantry is so important and helpful. This way you always have something quick on hand to help you out on those nights. You can check out my guide on stocking a vegan pantry here.
  3. Don’t Be Afraid of Herbs and Spices! Lots and lots of spices make the vegan food better! I’ve found over the years that the biggest things I see of my friends and family who are adding more vegan recipes is that they don’t add enough flavor! Meat, dairy, and eggs carry a lot of flavor in and of themselves that things like soy milk and tofu don’t have. This is a good thing in that we can shape the tofu to any flavor we like. But that does mean using more spices. Don’t be afraid to use those extra spices for that extra flavor.
  4. Take It One Meal At A Time. Maybe you start out only making breakfast or lunch plant based. Or maybe you go all vegan one day a week. Don’t stress and you don’t have to jump in with both feet right away. Start where you are comfortable and grow from there. I believe in you.
A list of 4 different top tips for beginning vegans.

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