If you're planning a party or another type of large event, it's likely you're planning on feeding your guests. This can be a difficult enough task to undertake for purely logistical reasons without taking into account any special considerations. There are increasing numbers of people with special dietary restrictions, whether it's for health, ethical or religious reasons, and it's important to take this into account if you want to ensure everyone can enjoy the food at your next event. Here are some of the main diets you should remember when you're planning your catering.
Vegetarian and vegan Vegetarian diets are commonly catered for, and most people tend to think of a meat-free option when they're providing food. Veganism sometimes goes forgotten, however. Vegans avoid not just meat but all animal products, including dairy, eggs and honey. Australia has become the third fastest-growing vegan market in the world, so the numbers of people following this lifestyle are rapidly increasing, making it ever more likely you'll need to cater to vegans.
Gluten free Gluten is a protein found in wheat and other grains, including oats, rye and barley. People with coeliac disease need to carefully avoid gluten, as consuming it can make them very unwell, so it's essential to keep all gluten-containing products out of their food. Other people avoid gluten for weight loss or because it causes less serious effects if they eat it. Some people don't eat wheat, as it's particularly high in gluten, but can eat other grains without any ill effects. If in doubt, it's best to entirely exclude any grains with gluten.
Common allergies People are allergic to quite a range of different ingredients, but there are some common ones it's particularly wise to look out for. A person suffering from a nut allergy may still be able to eat peanuts, as they're technically unrelated, and vice versa – but some are allergic to both types. Other common allergens are milk, soy and eggs. If possible, always ask your guests about allergies in advance.
Religious considerations Jewish people often adhere to a kosher diet, which has many restrictions. The most well-known is that they can't eat pork, which is the same for Muslims following a halal diet. Even with the meat permitted by each of these religions, however, it must be slaughtered and prepared in specific ways to be acceptable. If in doubt, you can contact representatives from a religion for advice or use a professional catering company with specific expertise.
Diabetic People with diabetes are likely to be confident and experienced in managing their condition, but it can pay to be helpful. Some diabetics control their diet by minimising carbohydrates and increasing fats, so something as apparently harmless as potatoes might be excluded. Sugar-free desserts are also a good idea, but watch out for high-carb fruit.