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Vegan diners pay an average of 65% more than Brits who order standard restaurant meals, according to research published this week.
Brits with dietary requirements have to pay more for an average meal in a restaurant than those without, a survey of 2,000 “selective eaters” by Caterer.com found. Vegans have to pay the most extra — almost £15. While Brits without dietary requirements said they pay about £22.67 for a meal out, vegans said they pay about £37.55.
People with allergies (£11), vegetarians (£5), people who require low-fat or low-sugar meals (£4), pescatarians (£4), those who eat no red meat or only eat meat in moderation (£4), and those with diets specific to their religion or culture (£3) also face bigger bills, according to the survey.
Caterer.com found that one in every four diners in the UK now has a dietary requirement of some kind. They also like to eat out — four fifths said they do so at least once a month, and three in five said they would go out at least once more a month if restaurants would go the extra mile for them.
While many Brits eat out to fill up on delicious food, relax with great company, and avoid the hassle of cooking, people with dietary requirements said they don’t always get to enjoy these things.
Almost three in five (57%) selective eaters told Caterer.com they feel restaurants don’t provide as many options for their diet, and almost as many (56%) said restaurants could be more creative with their dishes. Two in five said they feel judged by staff (42%) or other diners (40%). Almost half (47%) said they worry about a potential mistake with their meal, and two in five (39%) said they enjoy the experience of dining out less because they have to be vigilant.
On top of this, a third said they have decided not to go to a restaurant because the menu did not meet their dietary requirements, a quarter (24%) said they have left a restaurant for the same reason, and a fifth (21%) said they have returned a meal because it wasn’t suitable.
Despite their efforts, four in five Brits with a dietary requirement said they have ended up compromising their diet at least once when eating out. A quarter (26%) of these people said it was because they were wrongly told a dish met their requirements.
If restaurants can fulfil the demands of people with dietary requirements, the potential revenue gains could be up to £9bn, according to Caterer.com’s data.
The top five things selective eaters want from restaurants are staff who are educated about allergies and intolerances (49%), flexibility when it comes to meal substitutions (43%), allergens listed on menus (43%), menu items for dietary requirements updated as frequently as regular menu items (40%), and a list of ingredients for each menu item (35%).
The boom in selective eating has already led to an increased demand for hospitality staff with expertise in dietary requirements. At Caterer.com, adverts for vegan job roles increased by 123% last year, with an additional 300 jobs advertised across the UK.