Focusing on the positive, this alpha gal food list details what you CAN eat with alpha gal --rather than pointing out the foods that people with alpha-gal syndrome must avoid.
The information provided on this site is based on my personal experience living with alpha-gal syndrome. I consistently cite and link to expert sources, but nothing published on this site should be perceived as medical advice.
Alpha-gal sensitivities vary by person. You should understand your dietary restrictions, making any adjustments needed, and directing any questions to your physician.
When you live with a food allergy, so much time and energy is spent focused on the foods you can’t eat. After all, letting your guard down can result in severe reactions including hives, intense gastrointestinal pain, shortness of breath, or even a trip to the emergency room. And, if you’re like most alpha gals I know, once you’ve experienced one of those allergic reactions, you will do everything in your power to avoid experiencing it again.
That said, it can be disheartening – even depressing – to focus on all of the foods you can no longer enjoy with alpha-gal syndrome. So, this article is the opposite. Here is a long list of foods you CAN enjoy while following an alpha-gal diet.
Important Information About This Alpha Gal Food List
Alpha gals have different sensitivities to foods. While anyone with an alpha-gal IgE test result at or above 0.1 kU/I is typically advised to avoid all mammalian products, people living with alpha-gal syndrome range from those who must simply avoid consuming mammalian meat (like beef, pork, and venison) to those who are so sensitive that they react to touching ground beef when forming it into burgers or smelling the fumes of sizzling bacon when cooking with their families.
This published study reports that “80-90% of patients with AGS do not react to milk or cheese.” To minimize your risk of reaction, I recommend always choosing vegetarian cheese. However, the article also recommends that alpha-gal syndrome patients who continue to show symptoms while avoiding mammalian meat products may want to avoid dairy products. And an informal poll of people with alpha-gal revealed that the majority must or choose to avoid dairy. As a result, I’ve excluded dairy products from this alpha gal food list. But if you are able to enjoy dairy products, be sure to include them in your diet.
Additionally, some alpha gals react to carrageenan, a plant-based food additive that contains the alpha-gal epitope. And others cannot tolerate meat-based ingredients like gelatin, glycerin, and collagen.
Related Article: What is Carrageenan (And Why Should Alpha Gals Avoid It)?
To create this alpha gal food list, I’ve excluded all mammalian meat, dairy products, and meat-based ingredients. If you are a highly sensitive alpha gal, have additional food allergies beyond alpha-gal syndrome, have a histamine intolerance, or any other dietary restrictions, please be sure to avoid any of those items on this list.
It’s also important to note that this list focuses on raw ingredients (like apples, carrots, and peanuts) and common “single item” ingredients used to make other dishes (like olive oil for salad dressing and coconut milk to pour over oatmeal). When purchasing prepackaged products, prepared food items, or other store-bought foods, be sure to carefully read the ingredient label, or consider using the Fig app (more on that in a minute). You want to be sure that the can of refried beans you pick for taco Tuesday doesn’t contain lard and the almond milk you choose for your latte is carrageenan free.
Foods to Avoid with Alpha-Gal Allergy
Okay, I know I just said that this is a list of what you CAN eat. But just to be sure that we’re on the same page about the obvious no-nos for people following an alpha-gal diet — if it’s not plant-based, doesn’t swim, or doesn’t fly, it’s probably off limits.
This includes beef, bison, pork, lamb, mutton, venison, rabbit, and goat. Internal organs (like liver, kidneys, and other organ meats) typically contain very high levels of alpha-gal. While some alpha gals must avoid additional foods, the mammalian meat restriction typically applies to all alpha gals.
A great way to uncover hidden triggers in your food is with an app like Fig. Select your level of alpha-gal sensitivity by ticking the foods you need to avoid:
- Mammalian meats
- Mammalian by-products
- Dairy products
- Carrageenan and algae
- All of the above
Then search a list of ingredients or scan the bar code of any grocery store item to quickly identify foods that are alpha-gal friendly (or not so much) using a stop light system of green (can eat), yellow (limit this), and red (avoid).
So what foods CAN you eat with alpha-gal syndrome? Let’s get to it!
Fruits and Vegetables
Throughout the year, you’ll typically find about 200 types of fruits and vegetables in the produce section – even though Americans purchase these 40 items most frequently. And the great news is that all fruits and vegetables are safe to eat on an alpha-gal diet.
Related Article: Stuffed Peaches, A Sweet and Savory Treat
Sage Advice: When eating away from home, be sure that any fried items – like French fries, tater tots, and onion rings – are cooked in vegetable oil and not lard. It’s also wise to ask about garnishes like bacon bits, which may be used to season everything from mashed potatoes to green beans.
Beans, Lentils, and Other Legumes
Like fruits and vegetables, all beans, lentils, and other legumes are safe ingredients for alpha gals. Whether you substitute black beans for ground beef on taco night, whip up hummus from a can of chickpeas, or make vegetarian chili with navy beans, you have lots of alpha-gal friendly options in this food category.
Sage Advice: When attending social gatherings or selecting a can of refried beans at the grocery store, be sure to confirm that they do not contain lard.
Related Article: The Best Beans for Protein (Includes 30+ Tasty Recipes)
Nuts and Seeds
Offering a good source of fiber, grains are edible seeds that are all safe to eat on an alpha-gal diet. Start your day with a big bowl of oatmeal, enjoy this filling quinoa salad for lunch, and make grain bowls for dinner.
Related Article: Power Up with Quinoa, A Complete Protein for Alpha Gals
Whether it’s shaped into buns or baked in a loaf, the main ingredients in bread are flour, water, yeast, sugar, salt, milk, egg, and oil. While highly sensitive alpha gals may want to look for vegan options that substitute plant-based ingredients for milk and butter, and some alpha gals may need to select breads made with vegan sugar (more on that below), bread is generally alpha-gal friendly.
Although it comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, pasta is flour mixed with water or eggs. Since all three of those ingredients are safe in an alpha-gal diet, pasta is typically an alpha-gal friendly food. Just be sure that filled pasta, like tortellini and ravioli, don’t contain mammalian meat ingredients like ground beef. You’ll also want to ensure there’s no cheese if you are sensitive to dairy. And you’ll also want to be sure your pasta dish isn’t prepared with beef, pork, bacon bits, beef broth, or other alpha-gal allergy triggers.
Sage Advice: The ingredients in packaged goods can vary from country to country, even for globally recognized brands. Case in point: An alpha gal from Australia gave me the heads-up that a well-known spaghetti manufacturer uses an emulsifier of mammalian origin in the pasta made Down Under. Yikes, right? Meanwhile, in the United States, some pasta from the same company is flagged as “yellow” in the FIG app —meaning proceed with caution — due to the vitamin Bs and folic acid added to the dough.
Just like vegetables and nuts are all safe for alpha gals to eat, the plant-based cooking oils derived from these ingredients are also alpha-gal friendly. Alpha gals can also safely cook with animal fats derived from poultry, like duck fat and chicken fat (also known as schmaltz).
When making an alpha-gal friendly substitution, be mindful of the type of oil being replaced and how it’s being used in a recipe. Not all oils work for all recipes, especially in high-heat preparations. If you’re looking to replace lard or beef tallow in your deep fryer, peanut oil and duck fat make good alternatives. Oils with low smoke points, like flax oil and walnut oil, are best used for cold preparations like salad dressing.
Plant-Based Milk Products
If you are an alpha gal who can tolerate traditional dairy products, including milk, cheese, and yogurt, your health care provider will likely recommend that you keep those foods in your diet because they are good sources of calcium and protein. But if you are sensitive to dairy products or continue to have unexplained reactions, it may be wise to replace mammalian dairy products with plant-based alternatives.
When choosing alternative dairy products, be sure to read the ingredient list. Because carrageenan is a plant-based ingredient, this additive is allowed in vegan products, where you’ll often see it listed as an emulsifier and thickener. But it carries the alpha-gal epitope and may cause reactions. Many food manufacturers continue to remove carrageenan from products, but at this time, you’ll find carrageenan in the Kirkland brand soy milk sold at Costco as well as the coconut and soy milk used at Starbucks.
Related Article: Best Milk Alternative for Alpha-Gal Syndrome
Plant-Based Protein and Marine Collagen
While many protein powders include whey, and most collagen contains bovine ingredients, alpha gals can still incorporate plant-based protein and marine collagen into their diets.
My favorite plant-based protein is Orgain’s Organic Protein. The powdered variety is available in several basic flavors (like vanilla, chocolate, and peanut butter) as well as seasonal tastes (like strawberry and pumpkin spice). It’s also available in single-serving shakes, and I use a little of that in lieu of coffee creamer.
For Jennifer Anniston’s secret to youthful good looks without experiencing anaphylactic shock, try marine collagen. It is derived from the skin of fish instead of the skin and bones of cows and pigs, making it an alpha-gal safe option. And, according to this article, marine collagen may be better for you anyway! Who knew?!?
Because they are associated with birds (and not mammals), eggs are part of an alpha-gal diet. The majority of eggs consumed in the US are chicken eggs, but alpha gals can enjoy any type of egg, including duck eggs and quail eggs.
Related Article: Easy Baked Eggs Florentine for Two
As a general rule, caviar and roe (fish eggs) are also okay to consume on an alpha-gal diet. However, it is important to note that flounder roe may contain alpha-gal, so you may want to avoid that specific variety out of an abundance of caution.
Although pork is the most consumed meat globally, chicken is the most popular meat in America. In fact, the average American eats approximately 100 pounds per year. Not only are all cuts of chicken safe for alpha gals, so are all types of poultry and wild birds, including duck, emu, and ostrich.
Just beware that carrageenan is sometimes injected as a brine in pre-cooked poultry to improve tenderness and maintain juiciness, so be careful when selecting deli meat and prepared deli rotisserie chicken.
Sage Advice: Looking for fast and easy chicken dishes? Here are 20 chicken dinners you can make in less than 30 minutes!
Fish, Shellfish, and Seafood
Alpha gals can also safely enjoy fish, shellfish, mollusks, and other types of seafood.
Sage Advice: To help you make environmentally sustainable decisions when purchasing seafood, download one of the Seafood Watch consumer guides published by the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Beer, Wine, and Spirits
I always think of beer as liquid bread and wine as fermented grapes. So I was absolutely stunned to learn that brewers, winemakers, and distillers often use gelatin to clarify their products. What’s even more concerning for people with a mammalian meat allergy is that beer, wine, and spirit producers are not required to list the ingredients that go into their products. That can make it very difficult to know which adult beverages are alpha-gal friendly and which ones might send you to the emergency room.
Thankfully there’s Barnivore. Use the app to identify beer, wine, and liquors that are vegan friendly, and you’ll know you can raise a glass without an allergic reaction.
Sage Advice: Because Barnivore was created for vegans, who do not consume alpha-gal safe foods like fish, eggs, and honey, I always read why Barnivore has classified a product as “not vegan friendly.” If it contains fish, eggs, and/or honey, it’s still safe for alpha gals to enjoy, just as long as it’s not made with gelatin or another mammalian-based product.
While it can be hard to say goodbye to foods like burgers, hot dogs, ribs, and potentially cheese, this alpha gal food list details some of the many delicious foods still available when following an alpha-gal diet.
What Are Your Favorite Alpha-Gal Friendly Foods?
Do you follow a vegan, vegetarian, or alpha gal diet? What are your favorite alpha-gal friendly foods? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.