Anyone with specific dietary requirements will know that eating out can be tricky. Trying to find a meal that can cater to your dietary needs can take time, and can be particularly confusing when it comes to communicating your needs to the host. In this article, we provide some advice on how to talk to them about your dietary requirements in a clear and concise manner, helping to reduce the risk of any miscommunications.
Be prepared to explain the restrictions of your diet
While you may think that in today’s age vegan and vegetarian diets are popular enough to be well understood, unfortunately that’s not always the case. If you’re ever in doubt about whether or not your restaurant host has understood your dietary requirements, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and explain what your diet entails. For example, for those on a vegan diet, clarify that you avoid any and all animal products including dairy.
Discuss cross-contamination concerns
For individuals with food allergies or intolerances, cross-contamination can pose a significant risk. Not only that, but people who have followed a specific diet for a long period of time can become particularly sensitive to foods they’ve avoided.
As a result, it’s crucial to discuss this concern with your host as soon as you arrive in order to ensure your food is prepared safely. When you’ve decided on what you’d like to order, you’ll then need to ask about how it’s cooked, whether there is a separate area and utensils or if it’s all done in the same space.
For those on a plant-based diet, it’s also important to confirm the type of oil or butter that dishes are cooked in. Unfortunately some restaurants may overlook this, so it’s always best to double-check.
Learn some basic terms when venturing abroad
The challenges of communicating your dietary requirements with restaurants can be further exacerbated when travelling abroad. Conversations that could have been straightforward at home can be tricky if you’re in a country that primarily speaks a different language, and relying on solely communicating in English can quickly lead to misunderstandings.
Therefore, it can be helpful to learn some basic terms in the local language to navigate these situations more easily. For example, vegan travellers should try to learn the words for “meat” and “dairy”, alongside some simple phrases. “I don’t eat meat” or “I don’t eat dairy”, although simple, can be hugely beneficial when trying to communicate with someone who speaks a different language.
Enjoy a worry-free meal
Although discussing your dietary requirements with your restaurant hosts might seem intimidating, the process is absolutely worth it once you can rest assured knowing your food has been prepared in a way that you’re comfortable with. Especially in today’s age where diets such as veganism are becoming increasingly popular, restaurants are usually more than happy to accommodate your needs. So, don’t hesitate to speak up and you’ll be right on track to enjoying some delicious food without worry.