Gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan cuisine is a trend that is taking over, with more and more travellers opting for healthier lifestyles and an increase in awareness about the livelihood of animals. With this, hotels, lodges and restaurants have to rapidly adapt to meet customer demands. Tourism Update gets the low-down on alternative dietary requirements from industry leaders and top chefs.

Anantara Bazaruto Island Resort has noted an increase in both vegan and gluten-free requests from guests, according to the resorts’ Executive Chef, Donaldson Madubela.

The sentiment was relayed by Renzo Bico, aha Hotels & Lodges Group Executive Chef, noting a particular increase in demand for vegan options. Bico says over the past 10 years there have been dietary trends, with certain people opting to turn vegan, based on nutritional value.

“People have become more conscious eaters, being aware of what they eat. The request for these options is more prevalent in our industry, and we need to be more open minded to it, as it is not an inconvenience to us. We are all very flexible at aha when it comes to catering for our guests’ requirements,” explains Bico. “We are very diverse in what we offer because of the large scale of our properties and the number of international guests that we receive from across the world, so we also focus on international trends and what guests tend to lean towards.”

Aha Hotels & Lodges cater for dietary requirements, from vegan to gluten-free and vegetarian options. “We are aware of people’s needs for different dietary requirements and ensure we cater for these – we do try and accommodate our guests with gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian dishes,” says Bico, using the example of aha always having two vegetarian options on its buffet serving. “We also bake gluten-free breads at our lodges as well. We do try and cater for our dietary-conscious guests’ needs to the best of our ability.”

The Last Word Intimate Hotels, which has luxury hotel rooms in Constantia, Franschhoek and Long Beach, uses local flavours to enhance the authenticity of its vegan and dairy-free dishes, according to the group’s Marketing Manager, Nicky Coenen.

In addition, due to growing demand, The Last Word recently introduced vegan, vegetarian and dairy free Veggie Jars to its breakfast buffet to cater for those with specific dietary requirements.

When catering for guests with alternative dietary requirements, Madubela suggests Indian food, as it is the ideal cuisine when catering for dietary requirements, as well as Asian street cuisine. In addition, he says: “With the concept of farm to fork, it’s now easier to cater for these dietary demands; it is also fun for chefs to challenge their culinary skills.”

Catherine Entwistle, Owner of Val du Charron Wine & Leisure Estate (VDC), together with her husband Stuart, says both the restaurants at VDC, namely The Grillroom and Piza e Vino, offer gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options, tapping into this growing food phenomenon that shows no sign of slowing down.