From allergies to religious restrictions, planning conference meals has become quite an undertaking for Event and Meeting Planners. Gone are the days when planners offered a vegetarian option as the only alternative. Now we must incorporate increasing levels of allergies, cultural and religious lifestyles to meet the needs of a global attendance base. And as planners we must navigate the needs of our attendees and the ability of the venue to deliver special meal requests.
At Eventinterface we see a greater awareness of planners offering an increasing numbers of options to their attendees. Some even ask for attendees to fill in the blanks and share their dietary restrictions, which we recommend only if you are one hundred percent sure you and your venue can deliver on the requests. If you ask your attendees, they will expect their selection to be honored.
Lactose: Any product manufactured out of cow milk including yoghurt, cheese, milk.
Vegan: Only eats a plant-based diet with no animal products. No meat, fish, eggs or dairy products.
Ovo-Vegetarian: Mostly plants in addition to eggs. No dairy products, meat or fish.
Lacto-Vegetarian: Mostly plants in addition to dairy products. No eggs, meat or fish.
Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian: Mostly plants in addition to dairy products and eggs. No meat or fish.
Pescetarian: A vegetarian diet and fish. No meat.
Seventh Day Advetism
Yazidism or Yezidism
Source: CNN Eatocracy
Note that there can be a combination of any of the above. Attendees could order a vegan Kosher option, a vegetarian halal option.
HOW TO MANAGE RESTRICTIONS
- Know your audience before securing the venue. If you audience has a high degree of requests, you will need to insure that the venue can deliver on these requests, either by the onsite kitchen or outside providers. Also understand the protocols of the venue related to food allergies. How is contamination prevented in the kitchens?
- Be aware that if you ask your audience members if they have a special dietary restriction, you will be expected to deliver on that request. Your attendees will in general be a “captive” audience with little opportunity to get away from your conference and find an appropriate meal, should you not deliver on the request.
- When signing up your attendees only ask or offer the restrictions you and the venue can deliver on.
- Work with the venue on a method to identify the guests with dietary restrictions.
- It remains the responsibility of the attendee to share their dietary restrictions with you. At times and attendee will show up and have not shared their requirements when registering. Insure you understand if the venue can handle last minute requests, and which requests can be handled. It is much easier to meet the request of an additional vegetarian meal than to add a kosher meal.