It can be hard for Greenlanders to imagine a diet without meat of any kind, but there is a huge proportion of the world that chooses such a vegetarian lifestyle.
Additionally, the Food Allergy Research & Education organisation estimates that over 30 million North Americans and Europeans suffer from food allergies to seafood or dairy or nuts.
These are our visitors, and it is our job to cater to their diet wishes and needs the best we can, even if we are not that used to it yet. While some towns certainly have a greater selection of alternative foods than others, we should be able to come up with something a bit more imaginative than a raw carrot on a plate.
TIPS FOR SUCCESS
Be prepared! The best way to deal with guests who have special dietary needs is to anticipate their requests and prepare in advance for their situation.
If you are a restaurant owner, have in mind at least one signature dish per diet listed below that you can always prepare with your typical ingredients. If you need inspiration, Google ‘gluten-free recipes’, for example.
Better yet, permanently add a vegetarian or Paleo dish to your menu and clearly name it as such.
If you are a cafe owner, keep a carton of lactose-free milk in the fridge to make dairy-free cappuccinos and lattes.
If you are an incoming agent or tour operator, ask your guests if they have any dietary concerns so you can anticipate their special requests long in advance.
In addition, communicate these requests to anyone responsible for preparing food for them.
Inform guests of grocery store locations and opening hours, where they can purchase their own food, if necessary.
If you are operating sailing tours, keep in mind that chocolate and cookies as snacks might not work for everyone. Bring fresh fruit as an alternative.
Here is a short description of the 6 most common special diets, which ingredients are off-limits and which are reasonable substitutes for them.
Dairy-free / Lactose-free diet
These people do not eat anything made with milk products, and it is often because they have an allergy.
Off-limits: yoghurt, cheese, milk, creme fraiche, whipped cream, cream cheese, butter, sauce mix.
Good alternatives: Any type of dairy-free substitute like lactose-free cream cheese or almond milk or soy milk will please this eater.
These people do not eat any type of grains, pastas or flour, and it is often because they have an allergy.
Off-limits: müsli, cereal, spaghetti, cake or pie crusts, white bread, dark bread, digestive crackers, sauce mix, beer.
Good alternatives: Wild rice or quinoa for main dishes. Any gluten-free bread mix or substitutes like almond flour, dessicated coconut flour and cornmeal are good for baked goods. Cider, wine and spirits to drink.
These people follow both the dairy-free diet and the gluten-free diet, but they are even more strict. They also add sugar-free and alcohol-free to the list.
Off-limits: Everything from the gluten-free list. Rice and quinoa. Potatoes, corn, peas, beans and other starchy vegetables. Sugar, artificial sweeteners, marmalade, candy. Beer, cider, spirits and white wine.
Good alternatives: It is pretty safe just to give Paleo eaters a huge piece of meat and lots of green vegetables, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, and avocados. Fresh or baked fruit are good desserts and honey is an acceptable sweetener.
These people do not eat meat of any kind, and it is often because they have made the conscious decision based on animal rights or health purposes.
Off-limits: Red meat like lamb, beef, reindeer, muskox, whale and seal. Bacon. White meat like chicken and pork. Seafood like fish and shellfish and mattak. Beef broth and chicken broth.
Good alternatives: Use vegetable broth in soups and other dishes. Pasta dishes with lots of vegetables. Fresh salad.
These people are similar to vegetarians in that they do not eat meat of any kind, but they are even more strict. They also do not eat anything made from animals, even if the animal is not killed, like dairy. They eat this diet for animal rights purposes.
Off-limits: Everything from the vegetarian list. Everything from the dairy-free list. Plus eggs and honey.
Good alternatives: agave nectar as sweetener. Use vegetable broth in soups and other dishes. Pasta dishes with lots of vegetables. Fresh salad.
These people do not eat meat from land animals or sea mammals, and it is often because they have made the conscious decision based on animal rights or health purposes.
Off-limits: Red meat like lamb, beef, reindeer, muskox, whale and seal. Bacon. White meat like chicken and pork. Beef broth and chicken broth.
Good alternatives: Fish and shellfish. Use vegetable broth in soups and other dishes, or fish broth in fish dishes. Pasta dishes with lots of vegetables. Fresh salad.