Hey everyone, this is a little different. And I’m going to need you to stick with me here because there’s a fairly good chance this is going to be a rambling mess. I want to have a little chat about food allergies, dietary requirements and food availability. And if you follow a certain diet or have allergies, I’d love to know your thoughts on this.
Today’s post was inspired by a sandwich. A sandwich and a family friend’s new business to be more precise. To start, I want to be clear, this does not apply to bigger cities. I live in a very small town in northern England, this is relevant to my personal experience.
So, businesses and sandwiches
Those friends I was just talking about are about to take over a small restaurant and my mum was chatting to them about their menus and how they’re going to provide for dietary requirements. They were hesitant. They’re not big on the idea of providing vegan options, don’t really have a lot in mind for gluten free and the vegetarian offerings are looking limited too. They were under the assumption they just weren’t going to get people through the door who wanted that stuff. It’s your business, you have a choice whether to be inclusive or not.
But a few days after I heard about their plans, I was making this meal above. I apologise for the not so photogenic sandwich but it wasn’t exactly a planned photo. It got me thinking about how limited some of the options are when you eat out with dietary requirements. Now, if you’re in a restaurant, something can usually be thrown together even if the menu isn’t inclusive. I’m talking more about the grab and go kind of situations. Pop into a coffee shop and see what you can get. In my situation, that’s usually nothing. Or there’s one option and it looks like it’s been sat on that shelf all week. Most chain coffee shops etc don’t provide much in the way of free from options (other than Pret, but we don’t have Pret here).
This isn’t a poor me pity party, more an observation. I know when I’m in London, this isn’t an issue, there’s a lot of options just about everywhere. Where I am, this is a big issue. If I’m honest, I dread eating somewhere. The stress of trying to put a meal together often isn’t worth the dish I’m served. Even in supermarkets. Sure, there’s a free from section. But things like that Wicked Kitchen line in Tesco? I don’t have that, and I doubt I ever will. New non-dairy launches or new products flavours? I might get that but give me a few months, because it certainly isn’t coming anytime soon. Last time I went to London, I came back with about 20 Nakd bars in my handbag because my favourite flavour isn’t sold anywhere here.
In a way this works out better, the lack of an expansive free from section ultimately means you have less processed junk available. But sometimes you just want to have the option of trying something even if you’re not planning on making it a regular feature in your diet.
For me, this is a choice, I made the decision to change my diet and eat the way I do. I can moan about this all I want, but the truth is I don’t have to eat this way. A lot of you do though. In terms of allergies, you don’t exactly have a lot of options. A lot of people have allergies. And a lot more have digestion related issues and illnesses that mean they can’t eat certain things.
What should you expect?
Am I asking for too much by wanting a couple of options on a menu? I don’t need a whole section or a separate menu, but I’d like two or three options just so I know I can go out and eat something without having to stress about whether the menu is online before I go out. Am I the only one who does this or are you in a similar situation?
I’d love to know what you guys think about this. Should retailers and restaurants provide options for allergy sufferers? And if you have allergies or eat a restricted diet for any reason, do you have issues like this?
And if you live in a city and can’t relate to any of this at all, thanks for making it this far.
The sandwich in the photo is roasted bell peppers, chili and garlic roasted chickpeas, sundried tomatoes and rocket with a little tomato pesto in a Schar gluten free panini roll, in case anyone was wondering.
Until next time,
To view my free from recipes, click here.