You may notice that many recipes, packaged products, and restaurant menu items proudly advertise themselves to be “vegan and gluten-free!” But take note, those two terms aren’t one and the same. In fact, they refer to two totally different diets.

A gluten-free diet excludes all sources of, well, you guessed it, gluten. It’s the protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, and can be found in anything from bread and pasta to salad dressings that contain wheat protein and beer that contains barley malt. While a gluten-free diet has become something of a fad in the healthy-eating world, it’s really meant for people who have actual gluten intolerances or Celiac disease, and experience serious side effects from consuming gluten (that’s a whole other story).

Notice that meat, seafood, poultry, and dairy weren’t part of that gluten-free definition. That’s because they don’t contain gluten, which means that a) they’re perfectly acceptable on a gluten-free diet, and b) gluten-free doesn’t = vegan.

As a plant-based diet, veganism doesn’t have any particular qualms about wheat. Popular gluten-filled foods like bread, pasta, barley, and rye all have a welcome place at the vegan table (just make sure that packaged versions don’t come with sneaky non-vegan ingredients)!

To recap: While many foods can be vegan and gluten-free at the same time (brown rice, quinoa, and all produce, just to name a few), the two words don’t mean the same thing.

Ready to go vegan without giving up grain? Check out these dairy-free mac and cheese recipes that are better than anything you could make from a box.

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