Vegan Has Big Beans & Gas Problem
2 year vegan, mostly raw diet, beans & tofu main protein source, foul gas all the time
I eat about three cups of beans a day (red kidney, black, romano and chick peas). I soak and cook them myself in a slow cooker.
I have LOTS of gas even though I eat slow and chew my food well. I also take digestive enzymes.
It’s becoming a burden now because I have foul gas all the time and I don’t want to do social activities because it’s embarrassing and even work colleagues have complained and become upset at me.
I recently bought and used beano even though it has animal gelatin in it. My gas was reduced but I still had it.
Any suggestions as to how I can prevent this? Thanks – Shawn H.
Savvy Vegetarian Advice:
The first thing that occurred to me when I read your letter was that you’re eating far too many beans (that includes tofu which is made from soybeans). Beans are nutrition power houses and truly nobody except maybe a bodybuilder or tri-athlete needs to eat that many. Even then, I have my doubts.
Beans are an excellent source of protein for vegans and vegetarians, but there are a lot of other good sources of protein: nuts and seeds, whole grains, even vegetables and fruits have significant amounts of protein when you eat a lot of them every day.
The average male needs 45 – 60 grams of protein a day at the most. In many countries, 30 grams of protein is considered plenty, but we’re kind of protein obsessed in N. America. 3 cups of cooked chickpeas has 45 grams of protein and other legumes have similar amounts. Cooked whole grains have significant amounts of protein – 5 to 8 grams per cup. Broccoli has 3.2 g per 1/2 cup cooked. See Plant Food Protein Chart for more information.
I think that you probably need a more balanced and varied diet, with less raw, more whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, barley, oats etc, some cooked veggies as well as raw, a handful or two of nuts and seeds a day (e.g. almonds, walnuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds) either ground or whole, roasted or raw.
Eating beans with other whole foods, especially whole grains, will give you complete protein over the course of the day, and help your digestive system accept them better. Limit your tofu intake to 3 oz a day, again incorporate with other whole foods – and eat it cooked.
Take a look at our protein sample menus which provide appropriate amounts of protein as part of a balanced and varied veg diet.
It also occurred to me that while you may be cooking beans properly, you might not be taking additional steps to reduce gas, such as cooking with known gas-reducing items like bay leaves, asoefetida, fennel seeds, kombu or kelp seaweed.
Once the beans are cooked, adding spices like cumin, coriander, turmeric, fennel, brown mustard seed, paprika makes them easier to digest too. Savvy Vegetarian recipes call for lots of herbs and spices, because those go a long way towards making food both digestible and tasty.
When you cook beans in the slow cooker, try bringing them to a boil and skimming the foam off first, before adding to the cooker. Then add some gas reducing elements to the beans. I use bay leaves, kombu and fennel seeds.
Read the Savvy Vegetarian Bean Report for more information on cooking beans.
My last thought about your diet was that you may be intolerant of certain foods, or even allergic. That could partly explain your gas. The cabbage family and onion family can be very gaseous. Some people can tolerate certain beans or lentils, but not others.
For example, you might be able to eat mung dhal or sprouted mung beans, but not kidney beans. Soy especially can be a problem. Do some experimenting with your diet to identify gas triggers and make changes accordingly. Or go get allergy tests to see if you’re allergic to something you’re eating.
Digestive enzymes alone can’t solve your gas problem. I find that digestion is greatly improved with regular exercise, especially yoga and walking, plus drinking water through out the day but especially a couple of cups of warm water first thing in the morning.
I’ve also included 2 notes from experienced vegetarians on removing gas from beans:
Dear Savvy Vegetarian, I have four children and just found your site. It is the most comprehensive, practical one I have seen.
I was raised vegetarian but have found out many things along the way…. and love finding out more! I thought to tell you my experience with beans.
When we were married my husband had terrible trouble with gas & beans. We found over time, that soaking is a big issue. After 16 years, if I omit the bay leaves, usually 3 to a 8 lt pressure cooker he still will inevitably have a problem.
So, we soak the beans overnight, except for lentils which he seems to tolerate well now without soaking. Add the bay leaves after soaking and rinsing, when cooking the beans.
And the biggest thing after that which still inevitably causes gas in my children and ourselves… is that…if we mix fruit or dessert with the nachos, bean soup whatever.
We can’t seem to tolerate the sweet with the protein. There will be embarrassment big time going out with kids after a beans and dessert meal.
So, if that could help anyone else, feel free to pass it on. And thanks for a wonderful site. Rachel M.
Message: Removing gas from beans.
I read about this from a note from an old Indian woman who had learned of it from her grandmother. I tried it, and it works.
About 20 minutes before your pot of beans come to “done” time, place 2 tablespoons of castor oil in the pot.
I know, it ‘sounds’ ‘UGH’, awful, but it works and you will never know it was placed in there. The gas will be gone.
Try it. You’ll like it. – Paul S.
Medical Disclaimer: We at Savvy Vegetarian do not claim to be health care professionals, dietitians, or nutritionists. We do not treat, or recommend treatment, for any illness or health condition. Any changes that you make to your diet, and the results of those changes, are your decision and responsibility.