Special Diet Considerations
Seems like there has recently been an uptick in the news reports about different allergies, diet restrictions and eating styles out there. Chances are you will most likely have someone at your wedding who has a special diet consideration. Here are some of the most common groups you may run into:
Vegetarian: Quite simply, vegetarians don’t eat meat. Some will eat certain types of meat like fish or chicken but most will not eat red meat at all. Offering a simple vegetarian option like pasta with vegetables or stuffed peppers can make your wedding much more enjoyable for the ‘veggies’ attending. Vegetarian options don’t have to be boring at all and your chef can work with you to make sure your non-meat eating friends leave as full and happy as those of your guests who love filet.
Vegan: Vegan takes vegetarianism several steps further. Vegans do not eat any animal products at all – that includes eggs, dairy and processed food containing gelatin since it is derived from animal products. This obviously makes planning a menu a little more tricky but the dishes will, on the whole, be similar to vegetarian options but will avoid things like goat cheese on the pasta. While most chefs and caterers are well versed in vegetarian fare, vegan can be a little more difficult. When in doubt, consult with your vegan guests about what their preferences are and they can give some suggestions as to what will work for them.
Nut and Fruit Allergies: we are seeing more and more allergies to nuts and fruits popping up. Sometimes these are so severe that even having the nut or fruit in the room can literally kill the person with the allergies. If you have a guest with a peanut allergy, it is more than likely a child and their parents will be extremely vigilant about making sure they don’t come into contact with peanuts but if you can plan a meal without them, that would certainly make their lives much easier. Peanuts aren’t the only offenders, pine nuts (main ingredient of pesto and often found intact in salads) and almonds are also high allergens. If you know about a guest with these allergies, have the caterer prepare a plate without these items specially for that guest. If the allergy is life threatening, select meals that avoid them altogether – cross contamination can be hard to avoid in a busy kitchen and while paramedics are really nice, they will show up uninvited to your wedding if they need to save a life. I mention fruits because strawberries are also a high allergen for some people. Also, if someone is allergic to almonds, they are probably allergic to peaches too – same family.
Gluten Free: if you are unfamiliar with gluten, you aren’t alone – gluten itself is something that many people have never heard of! Gluten is contained in any food with wheat in it and it can cause big issues for people with celiac disease or a wheat allergy. It is truly surprising when you look at how many different foods contain some sort of gluten – even something like gravy made with a thickener other than cornstarch is off limits for someone eating gluten free. Most people who eat gluten free don’t advertise it, they just work around it and eat whatever might be available (I have seen more than one guest eat undressed salads as their main and only dinner) but if you know of the allergy and can give them a gluten free option, you will probably be a hero!
Pregnant Women: the mother of all special food considerations (pun intended)! Pregnant women are advised to avoid a lot of different foods – what a pregnant woman actually decides to avoid is up to them. Many pregnant women avoid caffeine so having some caffeine free soda like Sprite or 7-up on hand as well as decaf coffee is always a nice change from water. Soft and unpasteurized cheeses are also no-nos for pregnant women due to the risk of a specific type of bacteria – this means avoiding blue cheese, goat cheese, gorgonzola and brie altogether. If you have an entree with those ingredients and you notice that a pregnant guest has selected it, you might want to give them a head’s up letting them know so they can either change or you can request it be made for them sans cheese. Cold cuts (that are actually cold) and certain kinds of fish are also off limits to pregnant women. Most pregnant women are good about avoiding what they need to so don’t stress too much but again, if you can offer them something delicious and suitable for their new restricted diet, you will be making 2 people (one really tiny) very happy!
It may seem like a lot of work to try and accommodate all the different diet considerations but if something is truly life threatening to one of your guests, it is quite vital to take it into consideration. Remember, your wedding guests are just that: GUESTS – treat them as such! Happy menu planning!