Lately it seems that a new type of diet emerges every week. While the individual reasons driving these diets range from personal health, to animal rights activism, to environmentalism and more, they all affect you as a restaurant, because they impact consumer demand.
With that in mind, it will benefit you to become familiar with some of the most popular diet types so that you can ensure you are optimizing your menu options (and alternative dishes) for a broad audience:
Vegetarians eat neither meat nor fish. They may or may not abstain from consuming animal byproducts as well. A recent study showed that about 2% of Americans over the age of 17 are vegetarian. There are several sub-versions of vegetarian diets, such as lacto vegetarianism (which includes certain types of dairy), and ovo-lacto vegetarianism (which allows for both dairy and eggs).
Veganism is in a sense a more ‘strict’ subset of vegetarianism. Vegans eat neither animal meat, nor foods produced by animals, such as gelatin, dairy, etc. The same study mentioned above indicated that of the 4% of vegetarians, ¼ of them are vegan, or .05% of the country.
Pescetarians do not eat meat, but they do eat fish and other seafood in addition to eggs and dairy.
Mainly vegetarian diet in which meat is occasionally consumed. This practice is similar to that of Reducitarianism, but according to the Reducetarian Foundation, “While flexitarians primarily eat plants with the occasional inclusion of meat, eggs, and dairy, reducetarians mindfully and gradually reduce their consumption of these animal products with respect to their own diet.”
Locavores determine to eat mainly food that is locally produced. According to a recent Locavore Index, the states with the strongest commitment to eating locally-sourced food are (in order): Vermont, Maine, Oregon, Montana and New Hampshire.
Those following a gluten-free diet exclude all food containing wheat, barley, and rye. Note that those with full-blown celiac disease will likely have a reaction if they eat something that has even come into contact with gluten, so you’ll want to clarify either way on your menu (or be ready to when asked). There are also plenty of resources available with tips on making gluten-free alternative ingredients available.
Based on eating habits of humans from the Paleolithic period, this diet focuses on fruit, vegetables, nuts and meats, while avoiding dairy, grains, and all processed food.
The raw diet is similar to that of the Paleolithic one, except that it avoids all cooked food, essentially eliminating meat from the diet.