People go pescatarian, gluten- and dairy-free for a variety of reasons. Maybe red meat upsets their stomach or inflames a health issue. Maybe it’s for sustainability purposes and it’s their way of being a flexitarian. No matter the reason, we understand that when you host, you want to host everyone.
Make sure everyone can eat when you get together with our help! We understand different diets and why they matter and know what you can do to cook for your friends and family without having to worry. As the holidays approach (quickly too, we might add!) and you’re hosting more of your loved ones with more dietary needs to consider, here’s how to respectfully host your guests with different diets.
Different Diets & Why Consider Them
Sometimes when we think about different diets, we think they’re more limited in food options. Maybe you think there isn’t much variety to the food those ascribing to different diets can enjoy or maybe you think it’s an immediate health safety concern off the bat. That doesn’t have to be true though. As we learn more about different diets, there are so many ways to indulge and cook. Don’t feel like you have to walk on eggshells when cooking for different diets.
Pescatarian, for example, means someone only eats fish. This may be a personal choice over a dietary one, because they don’t want to contribute to climate change and greenhouse gases by eating red meat, but they want to rely on fish for protein.
Living dairy-free is a completely different diet. Anything with milk, cheese, or cream may not be the best option for your next event. Cut back on the butter or cream sauce you cook your food in before hosting a dairy-free guest. If you didn’t know: 75% of the world actually does not have the enzyme to digest lactose! Most who do are from Northern-region countries or have diets that primarily feature cow and goat milk, so they do have the enzyme. Hosting a dairy-free dinner guest just means minding including heavy cream in your cooking, no matter how delicious it is.
Lastly, gluten-free guests can’t have anything with gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. That means having a different drink option than beer or offering an alternate snack than crackers or bread so they can enjoy it, too. If someone is celiac, we highly recommend double-checking with them about what ingredients they can and cannot have. Even cross-contamination could be an issue in this case, and it’s important to know your ingredients may have gluten in them even if it’s not clear.
Check Your Ingredients
You, personally, may not have to worry about cross-contamination if two foods mix on your plate or if a spoon for one dish is used in another. But your guest might. Avoid the embarrassment of realizing they can only have one dish instead of enjoying the whole meal. As we just mentioned above, sometimes some ingredients may be made with dairy-, gluten, or even meat products that you may not know what to look for. We understand it’s frustrating when you realize too late that you missed something.
When you invite your guests over, you don’t want them to feel on edge about having to triple-check what they’re eating and where food is prepared. Know what you’re cooking and be ready to tell them about it. It’s also fun to share your process and add to the experience of cooking and hosting.
Labels & Conversation Make a Great Host!
Slow down and take the time to work through logistically what makes the most sense for taking care of your guests, including labeling your dishes, and marking which meals are for pescatarians, or dairy- or gluten-free guests. Make sure they’re noticeable and readable.
You could even escort your guest directly to the dish you made for them and walk them through what foods they can or can’t have, just for extra due diligence. It may slow your process down getting ready for a party but it also means everyone–and not just some–can have a good time.
Ask Ahead Of Time
It’s not impolite to ask your guest what they can eat! Don’t feel embarrassed to ask or wait until the day of your event to reach out. Just asking is courteous and polite in and of itself. You don’t have to put all the pressure on them to come up with something either. If you’re not sure what to ask, try some of these questions:
- Can you have this dish? List out the ingredients. You could also send them the recipe you’re thinking of making.
- If they can’t have that dish, that’s okay! Remember, you’re hosting them. Their diet isn’t an inconvenience to you because you want to take the best care of your guests. Offer “What about this dish or an alternative ingredient?”
- If neither solution works so far, ask them what they would recommend or prefer instead.
Take it as a learning experience – check out our recipe options, send them to your guest, and double-check. Not to mention, you may find a great new recipe that’s perfect for everyone to enjoy and a new staple for future parties. May we recommend one of our smokehouse favorites: Colorful Salmon Stir Fry?
Make Your Meals Inclusive
When you make your meals inclusive for your loved ones who have dietary needs, you make a meal that’s more than just enjoyable. For guests: You don't need to eat the perimeter or bring your own food to keep from feeling hungry. You can relax and have a wonderful time. For hosts: you take care of the people that you care about so you can truly share one meal.
When you host someone who is pescatarian or has any dietary needs, you don’t want them to feel as though they have to stick to one monotonous course. Planning a meal everyone can enjoy together means happy times all around.
All in all, cooking with different diets in mind is a fun way to have fun with your meal options, make something new, and most importantly: make happy memories together. Taking the time to cook with different diets in mind speaks volumes about how much you care. They’ll appreciate you more as a host and feel cared for beyond words.