Dietary fiber: it’s something we’re always told we should be eating more of. But instead of loading up on some beans and seeds to meet the minimum requirements of this nutrient, there are some cases where hopping on a vegan low fiber diet might be the better option.
From having trouble because you went vegan overnight and are facing double the amount of daily fiber to serious health issues like Crohn’s disease, watching your fiber intake can make a lot of sense.
Before we start, please be aware that we’re not trained health professionals, but we have done our best to diligently research this subject — as with all dietary issues, consult and work with your doctor to ensure you’re doing what’s best for your body. This is merely a guide on following a vegan low fiber diet.
Also, everyone’s digestive system works a bit differently. While some foods may be perfect for you, there are other foods on our list of what you can eat on a vegan low-diet diet that you might find intolerable! Listen to your body, and always follow your personal signs of comfort and discomfort.
As you might know, there have been waves of people quitting plant-based diets due to digestive problems and because they couldn’t find a way to follow a vegan low fiber diet — instead of finding a solution, they started to incorporate animal products like eggs or fish which don’t contain any natural fiber at all.
To show you that you can still follow a vegan diet when you are supposed to cut back on fiber, we’ve created this guide.
Truth be told, any low fiber diet is restrictive and nutritionally limiting — if you don’t do it right, it may cause unintended side effects and weight gain.
But what plant-based foods have (almost) no fiber, and how can vegans eat less fiber? Let’s go over the basics of what a vegan low fiber diet is and then check out some food lists.
Full Vegan Nutrition Guide →
What’s a Low Residue or Low Fiber Diet?
Eating a low residue diet means limiting your intake of high fiber foods that can take a long time to digest. It’s supposed to minimize the amount of fecal matter in your bowl, a step which is necessary for the preparation of or recovery from bowel surgery as well as when you have certain diseases (more on that in a second).
This means that you need to keep most whole plant-based foods to a minimum and focus on more processed foods to keep the residue (undigested food) low and have fewer bowel movements.
When speaking about a low fiber diet, we should first quickly take a look at the two different types of fiber!
- Soluble fiber — absorbs water during digestion and turns into a soft, gel-like substance; examples are apples, pears, beans
- Insoluble fiber — doesn’t dissolve completely in the stomach and can be irritating to the intestine; examples include whole wheat and raw veggies. This type of fiber needs to be looked out for on a low fiber diet!
Reasons to Follow a Vegan Low Fiber Diet
In general, everyone should make an effort to increase their fiber intake instead of looking to follow a vegan low fiber diet.
But there are some situations in which it’s important to avoid high fiber foods, and your doctor might recommend you follow a low-residue or low fiber diet due to the following conditions:
A vegan low fiber diet can ease the amount of work your digestive system has to do and bring relief from certain pains and symptoms.
Especially for those coming from a Standard American diet that doesn’t even meet the required minimum of 25-30 grams of fiber per day, going on a plant-based diet can mean that you quickly double or triple your intake — which will result in a whole lot of digestive trouble.
Therefore, it can make sense to ease your way into a high fiber vegan diet and gradually add more whole grains, nuts and seeds while still focusing on low fiber vegan foods.
Check out the following lists we’ve put together for you!
Low Fiber Food List (Plant-Based)
Typically, following a vegan low fiber diet means that you should aim for around 10-15 grams of fiber per day. It’s made up of mainly low fiber foods, some of which aren’t necessarily nutritious but definitely lack the important component fiber that you need to focus on right now.
Low Fiber Vegetables
Yes, you can eat some veggies on a vegan low fiber diet! Aim for well-cooked canned or fresh vegetables in small amounts and consume them in the form of smoothies, juices or smooth soups.
- Potatoes (no skin)
- Asparagus tips
- Avocado (ripe)
- String beans
- Acorn squash
- Spinach (pureed)
- Lettuce (if tolerated)
- Tomato sauce, seedless tomatoes
- Cucumber (no seeds)
- Pureed beans and peas (if tolerated)
Low Fiber Fruits
Again, lower fiber fruits exist but they need to be consumed in smaller amounts. Track your fiber intake with tools like Cronometer to not exceed your personal limit!
- Fruit juices
- Canned fruit
- Bananas (ripe)
- Honeydew melon
Low Fiber Cereals
Many of these aren’t very nutritious, but they can create a filling base for your vegan low fiber meals. Don’t forget to chew them well, too!
- White bread or rolls
- White pasta or noodles
- White rice, rice cakes
- Farina, cream of wheat, grits
- Foods made with white flour, like pancakes or wraps
- Crackers, zwieback, matzoh, saltines
- Puffed grains, cornflakes
- Cooked & strained rolled oats, semolina
Other Vegan Low Fiber Foods
Here are all of the other low fiber choices you can add to the three lists we just shared to make your food taste great!
Easy Cashew Mayo →
High Fiber Food List
Here are the vegan foods that need to be avoided on a low fiber diet or at least drastically reduced — find some tips below on how you can still have at least some of them.
- Onions and garlic
- Cruciferous vegetables (raw or cooked)
- Potatoes with skin
- Beans and lentils
- Nuts and seeds (whole)
- Pickles, olives, relish
- Breakfast cereals: bran, porridge, granola etc.
- Whole grains
- Whole grain products: bread, pasta, pancakes etc.
- Buckwheat, corn
- Wild or brown rice
- Fruit with seeds and peels: berries, kiwi, oranges etc.
- Dried fruit, coconut
- Prunes, prune juice
Best Tips & Strategies
Here are some of the best tips we’ve collected from official guidelines on following a low fiber diet as well as from people actually suffering from IBS and Crohn’s disease.
Not all of these may be applicable to you, but they can be worth a try!
Easy Digestion 101
We all know the bellyache after a large, greasy meal — especially if your digestive system is already finicky. Here are the basics really everyone should follow for less tummy trouble!
Eat small and frequent meals that are not overly spicy or fatty. Go low on the flavorings; your body’s ability to digest fat can vary. Extremely hot foods increase the activity of your intestines, so that’s something to look out for as well.
Yes, we’re talking raw fruit here — even though you should generally cook your food for easier digestion and to partially break down some of the fiber, once you’ve liquified your fruit into creamy oblivion, you have already taken care of some digestive work!
The more powerful your blender and smoother your result, the better. Even seeds in berries or leafy greens can be packed into smoothies, but start with smaller quantities to not tempt fate.
Juice Your Veggies
If you cannot eat many vegetables due to their fiber, then just remove the crucial part! By juicing leafy greens, carrots and apples, you get a tasty drink that’s nutritious but not harsh on your digestive system.
Again, start with smaller quantities and see which foods work well for you personally! If you don’t have a juicer yet, see our thorough buying guide to evaluate which one to get.
Cook Thoroughly or Roast
The softer your vegetables, the better! By roasting them to the edge of oblivion, some people can even handle broccoli or cauliflower — after these veggies have been at 425 °F in the oven for forever, that is.
Not all of the nutrients will be gone! You can then serve your veggies with a nutritious avocado and tahini dressing over some white rice and you’re well on your way to a well-rounded meal.
Chew Your Food Well
Slow and steady wins the race, so go for small bites and take your time. Aim for 30 chews per bite — once you count how much you actually chew your food, you will be shocked!
Once you know what well-chewed food feels like in your mouth, you don’t need to keep on counting and will be rewarded by much-improved digestion. Sometimes the little things make all the difference!
Drinking & Beverages
Have lots of water throughout the day, not only with your meals. Your bowels will love you for it! Herbal teas can be true remedies for a distressed digestive system, too.
While coffee isn’t really high in fiber, it can upset your stomach — go for decaf or other warm beverages instead.
As mentioned before, juices (if they don’t cause any irritation) can be helpful to increase your calorie and nutrient intake.
Avoid fizzy drinks and alcohol as much as possible!
Soups Without Chunks
The less you have to chew, the more likely it is that you don’t end up with larger chunks of food in your digestive tract. Therefore, making smooth vegetable soups without any chunks at all is the best way to eat your veggies!
Better yet, sieve your soups and lumpy stews. Here are some of our favorite vegan soup recipes you can try!
Puree Your Legumes & Seeds
Wait, legumes aren’t usually part of a vegan low fiber diet, right? True, but if you go ahead and puree them really smoothly, they can be okay for some people to handle.
Again, please be aware of your personal situation, but a few servings per week of hummus, refried beans or nut and seed butter can be worth a try — they pack a lot of nutrition and flavor, making your low fiber diet much more sustainable.
Best Hummus Recipes →
Enriched Products & Supplements
Get some extra help to meet your daily nutrient needs by taking your supplements as much as possible — for vegans, vitamin B12 is a must, but you might also want to opt for a high-quality multivitamin, vitamin D and anything else you might fall short on.
When your gut isn’t able to absorb your food properly, you can easily become deficient, no matter if you’re on a meat-based or vegan low fiber diet.
In terms of packaged food like pasta, juice or plant-based milk, choose enriched products for an extra dose of nutrition!
After all, it’s all about balance.
Increase Fiber Intake Slowly
Once you’ve given your digestive system a rest, slowly increase your fiber intake by introducing more fiber-rich foods again (as instructed by your medical team). If the food doesn’t cause any symptoms within 24 or 48 hours, it can be added to your diet.
Need a starting point? Here are some vegan low fiber recipe ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks — please check with your MD or RD for specific tips and meal plans to follow.
Please note that when it comes to blended smoothies, other fruit like frozen berries, mango or pineapple can work well because their fiber is getting destroyed by the freezing and blending process!
Lunch & Dinner Recipes
Low Fiber Vegan Snacks
We hope this guide on following a vegan low fiber diet was helpful and that no matter why you are advised to or want to try cutting back on fiber, you are feeling better soon!