27 Reasons I Could Never Go Gluten-Free

A hint: They're all edible.

I lost my patience for the gluten-free trend in a bar. I was with my dad. He ordered a martini. As usual, he asked for vodka rather than gin -- a trespass of good taste that I accept only because he's allergic to juniper. But this time, he asked specifically for vodka distilled from potatoes, rather than wheat. He explained that he was trying to go gluten-free. And he didn't even blink when I pointed out that distilled spirits contain virtually no gluten, regardless of their source -- unlike the rolls in the bread basket he'd heartily enjoyed moments earlier.

My dad's dietary preferences may be on the idiosyncratic side, but he's far from alone in his gluten-free aspirations. According to a recent survey, about a third of Americans are trying to go gluten-free. We spend billions of dollars a year on foods that are specifically marketed as "gluten-free." And gluten-phobic diet books like "Wheat Belly" and "Grain Brain" have been working their way up the bestseller lists for years now.

Now, I have nothing but reverence and respect for the approximately 3 million Americans with Celiac disease, for whom avoiding gluten is a matter of life and death. And I buy the idea that a few million others suffer from a less severe, but still real, form of gluten sensitivity. So I'm glad that the market has made more gluten-free foods available to them.


I just don't buy the idea that gluten makes one third of Americans sick. No way. Humans have been eating gluten for millenia. I'm sure some people lose weight after giving up gluten -- but because they're consuming fewer 900-calorie plates of pasta and more salads, not because there's something specifically fattening about gluten. So in my book, the "gluten-free diet" is just a spelt-friendly imitation of Atkins, without the ketosis.

I've heard people say, nebulously, that going gluten-free makes them "feel better" -- but at a gigantic cost. It would entail forsaking a huge swath of the most delicious foods known to man! That would certainly make me feel worse. So here are 27 crucially important reasons I would never go gluten-free. (Unless a reputable doctor told me to, for a legitimate reason. But it would be hard. Very hard.)

Because I could never eat this foccacia,
Matthew O'Shea via Getty Images
This bowl of ramen,
Juan Paulo Gutierrez via Getty Images
Or this BLT.
Marta Greber via Getty Images
Because I'd never again be able to start your morning with English muffins,
Buttery biscuits,
Iain Bagwell via Getty Images
Doughnuts from Doughnut Plant in New York,
Or everything bagels.
David McGlynn via Getty Images
(Those are pretty much pure gluten, let's be honest.)
Bloomberg via Getty Images
Because I'd never be able to order aloo paratha at an Indian restaurant,
Howard Shooter via Getty Images
Pita bread at a Middle Eastern restaurant,
Photostock Israel via Getty Images
Or scallion pancakes at a Chinese restaurant.
James Baigrie via Getty Images
Because I'd never again experience chocolate chip cookies that look like these,
Or chocolate babka that looks like this.
Janis Christie via Getty Images
Because there's nothing as American as apple pie,
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As French as a boule from Poilâne,
Bloomberg via Getty Images
Or as comforting as matzo ball soup.
Janis Christie via Getty Images
Because I could never celebrate your birthday with this cake,
Fabrice LeRouge via Getty Images
This brioche French toast,
Boston Globe via Getty Images
Or these soup dumplings.
Jaime Hojje Lee via Getty Images
Chicago Tribune via Getty Images
Because spaghetti cacio e pepe exists,
The Washington Post via Getty Images
And so does linguine con vongele,
Lauri Patterson via Getty Images
And so does this 100-Layer Lasagne from Del Posto in New York.
Joe Satran/The Huffington Post
(There are literally 100 layers. LITERALLY.)
Because I'd never be able to satisfy my sweet tooth with these palmiers,
David Bishop Inc. via Getty Images
These shortbread cookies,
Image Source via Getty Images
Or these brownies.
Photo by Brian T. Evans via Getty Images
But most importantly: PIZZA!!!!!
ancient history/Flickr
I rest my case.

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