Reasons a Vegan Diet Might Cause Heartburn (GERD)


By going vegan, you’ve already eliminated many common triggers of heartburn like meat and milk.

However, it’s still possible to get acid reflux on a vegan diet.

I’ll go over a few of the most common reasons for it in this post, but if this is a serious recurring issue for you, you need to see a doctor. There could be an underlying condition that’s causing the problem that should be addressed.

What Causes Acid Reflux

The formal disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is typically the result of having too much stomach acid.

This is typically caused by the type of food you eat, or volume of food.

Eating More Food As a Vegan

Volume is a simple one to rule out, but it’s very possible on a vegan diet. 

When you go vegan, you typically eat a lot less calorie dense foods (e.g. vegetables), so you may end up eating a lot more in terms of volume. 

You can experiment with spreading out foods or eating a bit less for a few days if you suspect this is an issue.

Types of Vegan Foods That Can Cause Heartburn

There’s a long list of foods, even vegan ones, that can cause acid issues:

  • Oil and high fat foods (e.g. fried foods)
  • High amounts of salt
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Acidic drinks (e.g. coffee, orange juice)
  • Caffeine
  • Citrus fruits (e.g. oranges, grapefruit)
  • Alcohol
  • Mints (e.g. peppermint, spearmint)
  • Tomatoes
  • Garlic and onions
  • Spicy food
  • Chocolate

That is one big list!

However, you’ll have to consider all of them to figure out what’s causing your issues.

You can either start excluding foods one-by-one to see if they make a difference, or you can start with a bland diet and add foods one at a time to see if they cause you issues.

One final note to leave off on is that many vegan substitutes can trigger heartburn.

Fake meats like the Beyond Burger are really high in fat.

Daiya (and other fake cheeses) are also almost entirely fat. I know that if I eat too much of it I get a bit of heartburn (which is very abnormal for me).

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. Chemical engineer turned semi-professional soccer player and freelance nutrition writer. I've been vegan for years and try to make life easier for others by sharing what I've learned.

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