Event Planning for Dietary Restrictions
November is World Vegan Month, a time to recognize why some people choose to live a vegan lifestyle. As an event planner, making accommodations for specific needs, such as those who eat vegan diets, have peanut allergies, eat paleo, or have celiac disease, should be a priority. We are talking about everything you need to know about event planning for dietary restrictions.
Whether due to allergies, ethical and heath preferences, or medical guidelines, many people who will walk through the doors of your event will have dietary restrictions of some kind. If your event requires that your attendees depend on you for their meals, it is your responsibility to consider their dietary needs. Event planning for dietary restrictions may sound daunting, but we can help break it down to the basics so that everyone walks away from your corporate meeting or event with amazing memories.
Gather the Information
In order to start planning, you need the correct attendee information first. An ideal place to take this dietary information would be registration, since it will give you the maximum notice of the specific restrictions you will be planning for. A simple box asking for any special dietary restrictions can give attendees the opportunity to let you know what they need to be safe and comfortable at your event.
Consult Your Team
When it comes to identifying vegan foods, ensuring safe preparation, and creating delicious menus fit for everyone, your catering team will be filled with important knowledge. No matter if you are calling in a caterer or using the kitchen staff at your venue, keeping them in the loop from the beginning about your attendees’ dietary restrictions will make the entire event planning for dietary restrictions and event execution process go more smoothly.
After taking an inventory of the type and number of dietary accommodations you will need to make, ensure that your catering staff is prepared to execute them. There are specific trainings available for people in food service to understand how to avoid cross contamination and identify potentially dangerous allergy triggers. Everyone from the chefs to the servers should have some level of food allergy training. Simple actions, like picking the nuts off of a salad before serving it or using a serving utensil contaminated with shellfish, could cause a major medical reaction.
The scary reality is that you could find yourself liable for someone’s allergic reaction at your event. Your attendees have much less control over the food they are served during your event, so a little cross contamination on an otherwise safe food option could spell disaster.
Since food allergies can appear at any time, it is important to be prepared with a plan in case of an allergic reaction. Professional event consultants recommend building a foolproof emergency plan for situations just like these. Coordinate with your planning team, security personnel, and venue managers to devise a quick and efficient way of handling any emergency, including the specific steps for an allergic reaction.
Keep Standards High
Every vegan and vegetarian has experienced the disappointment of receiving a tray of iceberg lettuce from their server, or eating a bowl of french fries as their meal. Just because the dish is vegan doesn’t mean it can escape your high standards. Strive to work with your caterer to create fresh, delicious options that have just as much care in them as the rest of the menu.
When in doubt, stick with offering lots of locally grown and sourced options. Ask your catering team to create a variety of dishes that will excite everyone, whether they have restrictions or not, and make sure you always have extra on hand (in case you run out of everything except the peanut chicken).
Most event planners have learned the beauty of transparency when it comes to labeling dining options. The more information you can give attendees, the better—down to the seasonings if possible. You can choose to include the basic information, as well as if it is vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, peanut free, etc., on the table and have more specific information on flyers available for those who want them. Simple labels can make a huge difference when attempting to feed a hungry crowd, and can seamlessly integrate their options in your event execution.
Planning events for dietary restrictions does involve aligning lots of details and ensuring their successful execution. However, it is a small price to pay for creating a memorable experience for each one of your guests. People who need accommodations for their meals often expect the worst: few or no options, staff who seems uninformed, feeling like an afterthought or an inconvenience. Imagine the connections you could make with those guests if you gave them exciting, delicious food to round out your event filled with memorable moments. Contact Omnience™ to start connecting with all of your guests.