As with any allergy or intolerance, when you go out for a meal and ask for the allergy menu you expect to see everything which you are able to eat, written on the menu. Well they had me fooled, and they could have fooled you too! I recently when out for a meal and when I asked for the dairy free menu I was so shocked when I realised there was barely anything on it for me to eat. After asking the waitress to ask the chef whether he was able to take certain ingredients out of the dishes I really wanted to eat, she came back to tell me that there was egg in the starter so I wouldn’t be able to have it. But egg isn’t dairy! So that got me thinking, if they had put that on the allergy menu when it didn’t even contain dairy then what else had they?!
Being intolerant to dairy purely means I cannot eat milk, cheese, yogurts, ice cream etc. In this list does not come eggs. Yes, within the food categories, eggs are listed as a dairy product because they are a by product of an animal, however they do not contain the lactose or milk protein which people are often allergic to and therefore can be eaten by people suffering from dairy intolerance, like me. Eggs themselves are on the list of products which people can be allergic to, but it is a completely separate allergy.
So, restaurants are classing eggs as a dairy product and excluding meals only containing eggs and not dairy off the dairy free menu, which means several dishes are not being shared with us so we have even less to choose from! Having an intolerance is bad enough when you can’t eat certain meals but then to have meals taken away from you which you are perfectly safe to eat is even worse! I absolutely love eating out and have just started to feel confident in putting my trust in other people to get the meals right. Then I find out, the allergy menus are combining all sorts of allergies together and I can actually eat and enjoy more than I thought. How is this even right?
I obviously accept that all allergies which could affect the foods people eat need to be outlined, but I just believe that all the different categories need to have separate menus. I know a lot of places I have been to eat have got their allergy menus spot on and these are often the ones that provide a type of spread sheet, breaking down every ingredient in every meal so all allergies are clear. I just know now from experience that a lot of places aren’t getting it right and I really feel like it needs to be changed.
This is just my starting point, and I guess the blog post was just to get the feelings I am having down and to hopefully get people to recognise that having an allergy or intolerance is hard enough without make it harder. If you have an allergy and you have experienced anything like this or didn’t actually know this is happening please get in touch with me! I need as much support and help with this subject as I can, to try and make the changes we need. Who’s with me?! Don’t forget you can find me on social media too, if you want to share your allergies, intolerances or experiences!