I know that only 1 in 133 people, or 1% of the population in the United States, have Celiac Disease, an autoimmune disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and deters absorption of nutrients from food. The only known treatment for Celiac is a strict gluten free diet.
I also know that 1% of the population is quite small and often not worth it to restaurants to worry about… why cater to 1% of the population when truly only 99% of the population matters?
Here’s why restaurants should pay attention to GF folks:
Think you’ll only abandon 1% of the population’s dining decisions? Think again! The person with the food allergy or dietary restrictions dictates where their family and friends eat out almost every time. I promise you this is the case! Everytime we go out to eat with friends and family, I am asked to select the restaurant or give restaurant options. Everyone wants to make sure I’m cared for – no one wants to dine out when they know their friend is not being properly taken care of. In fact, when you cater to the 1% of Celiac people dealing with gluten free diets, you often cater to a party of 4, 10 or more people on any given night! Now that is worth paying attention to, right?!?
Also keep in mind that the gluten free community talks and we talk a lot! When we love a product or restaurant, we can’t wait to tell the world. And the same goes for when we have a bad experience – we are quick to make sure our friends don’t waste their money and make the same mistake.
So restaurants, remember, when you cater to the 1% of people with Celiac disease, and you do it right (i.e., you take proper cross contamination measures), you are affecting where more than just 1% of the population eats. You are affecting where that person’s entire social circle and circle of influence eats. Perhaps it’s worth paying attention to now?