This potential new law will affect your events… Are you ready?


The Vegan Society have launched a new petition to make it a legal requirement for public sector organisations to provide vegan options. Change is coming… What does this mean for public sector events?  

The Growth of Veganism 

Veganism is one of Britain’s fastest growing trends, having rapidly increased in the last few years. The growth of veganism is being driven by millenials, who are much more aware of their health and where their food is sourced from.

In response to this increased demand, The Vegan Society have launched a campaign called ‘Catering for Everyone’. The campaign aims to make it a legal requirement for the public sector to provide at least one vegan option in their catering provision. As of World Vegan Day (1st November 2018) the petition has been signed by 10,735 people. If there are 100,000 signatures by March 2019, this petition will be eligible for debate in parliament. Keep up with the progress of the petition HERE. 

Find out more about the campaign HERE.

Food, Glorious Food…

Sourced: Unsplash

So, if you’re planning something similar to a bonfire celebration, Christmas market or historical/cultural festival, then this may apply to you.

Currently, it is not a legal requirement for public sector events to offer vegan options. However, it should be in every event managers’ interest to ensure that they cater for all of their attendees.

Lettuce continue to leek some more information on this; studies show that food is one of the most important factors at events, with regards to customer satisfaction. Food is often at the forefront of many event attendees’ minds, which makes it an integral part of their event experience. This is why some event organisers are already ahead of the game.

Ready, Set, Vegan!

The private sector often lead the way on emerging event trends, with other sectors following after. Events outside of the public sector such as The Olympic Games and The Governors Ball are already setting the standards for the industry by catering for vegans.

The private sector is economically incentivised to respond rapidly to the demand of the market, keep up with current trends, and remain competitive. The knock-on effect of this is that event attendees have heightened expectations for events across the entire industry.

Are You Ready? 

If the petition is successful, the change in law may not take immediate effect. However, event managers should now start to consider the trend when planning their events so that they are not seen as discriminating against their attendees’ culinary preferences.

We want to know what event professionals think about this. Do you currently consider vegan dietary needs when planning your events? Could this possible law change significantly affect your organisation? For example, will you have to source new suppliers, train staff to be able to respond to questions about products, or increase budgets or ticket prices to cover rising costs? 

 

Please leave your thoughts and comments in the section below.

 

Comments

Daniella says:

If a supplier or event has to cater vegan menus should they also be catering for gluten free, dairy free, Halal? How far should events take this considering that some of these food allergies need not only different food prep areas but different food storage areas? Also, how does this affect an event that is away from the suppliers’ base?

vegansatevents says:

What an interesting thought! Thank you for your comment Daniella.

In an ideal world yes, event managers should be inclusive of all their delegates needs. If this law change was to happen it could create a gateway for other law changes such as catering for gluten free attendees. It’s important for caterers therefore to adapt to their attendees requirements and this would vary their practices.

Part of an event managers role is to consider feasibility therefore, we find your point about food prep very interesting, do you think that maybe this is sometimes overlooked because of the additional costs incurred? How would you suggest we move forward integrating other dietary requirements into the public events sector?

Abi says:

I agree. There are many trends when it comes to culinary preferences, and as quick as private sector is quick to adapt (at a premium cost), public sector have to take into account a variety of additional factors; location, preparation and importantly, cost. A driving factor of public sector events is to be accessible to all. If ticket prices we’re to increase to account for the more costly ingredients this could restrict attendance. That being said, a lot of organisations now will offer a vegan option instead of vegetarian, which is also gluten free to try and be inclusive. This may limit vegetarian options somewhat but in light of social changes compromise could be the next step forward.

vegansatevents says:

Thank you for your insightful comment Abi!

Cost is often a factor that is high on the agenda for event managers and indeed, there are ways to cater for a variety of attendee requirements more efficiently. For example, by creating flexible menu’s as you mentioned.

But do you think that providing just one option for attendees with dietary requirements would actually make them feel more excluded?

Do you think public sector event attendees would pay more for a personalised, more inclusive experience in which the menu is tailored for their requirements or do you think they expect this as the norm?

Lucy says:

This is all great an all but there are now so many different dietary requirements for so many different people how would this work when there’s a trailer for example? are they going to have different trailers for different dietary requirements? But I totally agree I think all events there should be something there for someone to eat but is this really down to the event or down to the individual to make sure that they have something to eat just in case that there isn’t something there to eat?

vegansatevents says:

Thank you for your comment Lucy! There are now various vegan street food companies that could offer a variety of options for guests. Of course you could have one van however, this could potentially cause worry about cross contamination therefore, it’s important for event managers to check with their caterers about their individual practices.

We would suggest that if managers are not catering for vegan guests then they should alert their attendees to ensure they are aware. However, in your experience, is it best to allow attendees to bring in their own food if necessary to your event or could this potentially reduce your food and beverage sales?

Sofia G says:

This is a very interesting read! I have worked at a variety of events in the past that indeed, have not supplied any vegan options. I agree that event managers do need to be aware of the growing trend, as with any other industry trends. However, I do agree with Lucy – how far do you go? There are so many minority food diets (eg. allergies and the various religious diets) to what extent is it the event managers responsibility to cater to event and every event individual?

vegansatevents says:

Thank you for your comment Sofia we are delighted you found this blog an interesting read!
Ideally all event managers would consciously cater for all requirements but we are aware that is not always within the budget. Events are inclusive in nature and we believe the event manager is responsible to cater for its attendees or allow attendees to bring their own food to an event.
As an Event Manager would you allow attendees to bring in their own food if you were unable to cater for their dietary requirements?

Bethany Presgrave says:

Imposing a law would be ridiculous!
In my opinion this petition is more about increased awareness and publicity for the Vegan Society and can’t be taken seriously in legal terms.
Realistically it is in the Event Manager’s best interests to cater for Vegans as the demand becomes increasingly more popular. As and when other dietary requirements become more popular, events should continue to cater for these growing needs of the attendee. The more people they can cater for, the more popular the event surely.

vegansatevents says:

Thank you for your thoughts Bethany!

We appreciate that the Vegan Society are gaining more awareness through this campaign and it’s for the government to decide about whether or not to make the campaign a legal requirement. It’s interesting that you think the law wouldn’t be taken seriously. Why is that?

As an Event Manager how do you/would you cater for vegans at your events?

Heather says:

I completely agree that events need to provide a vegan option for guests like they would do for vegetarians. Events are about being inclusive and the last thing you want at an event is for a guest to feel left out or misheard. Event catering usually contains a vegetarian option, is it really much harder to ensure that this vegetarian option is also vegan? This way no additional food needs to be made and it’s possibly the most cost effective way of ensuring vegans are also catered for.

vegansatevents says:

Thank you for your thoughts Heather! What an excellent idea of a vegetarian option that is also vegan!

May we ask if this is a provision you have created yourself and if so does this affect your budget in any way? Is this a concept you have noticed when attending events?

Katie says:

Having worked in the corporate events industry for a few years now, I can confidently say that events cater to the masses (No dietaries and vegetarian) but also venues/ caters will always ask for dietaries (if it is possible to gather), as I gather from your blog, Veganism is becoming more popular but from experience there are only a handful of Vegan’s?

I’m assuming the cost of producing a vegan option in masses is more costly than the standard food that is offered? Have you researched the cost difference for a cater to supply this in mass over a normal option that would be provided?

The driving force behind a lot of decisions is cost, therefore if the cost is excessive, then the client would most likely go for cost over satisfaction of a handful of event delegates?

It would be interesting to understand the pricing difference of providing a vegan option over a normal option?

I also agree with the other comments, how far do you go? if an attendee is extremely passionate about being vegan then they would make themselves known prior to the event – which then allows the event manager/caterers to cater to this delegate.

From experience, I have not had anyone complain about the lack of options for a vegan. I think they understand that many events wont cater for them.

Most events have salads, vegetables and fruits are normally available at events.

vegansatevents says:

Hello Katie, thank you so much for your comments and questions. We do recognise that in mass catering terms vegans are a minority however, there is a recognisable growth.

Cost difference between vegan and non vegan food can differ for each event. Some venues even go as far as saying when they can cook large quantities of vegan food it can be more cost effective that options that include meat.

We understand that cost can be the driving force for event managers and attendees. Would you pay more to attend an event that catered for several dietary requirements or would you prefer to pay less to attend an event with limited catering options?

If event attendees do inform you prior to events, do you as an event manager cater for those requirements and if so do you charge an additional amount if in your experience catering for vegans costs more?

You have provided us with some excellent talking points and we look forward to your reply!

Katie says:

Thank you for your reply, what evidence do you have to support your answer? “Some venues even go as far as saying when they can cook large quantities of vegan food it can be more cost effective that options that include meat.” this would be interesting to see if this point is valid.

From experience corporate events are free to the attendee so the cost is a burden to the client/company. To save money (as they all work to strict budgets) from experience they would go with the cheapest option. If I had to pay to attend, I would pay less for limited catering options as this still would be coming from the attendee’s company budgets.

if we are informed we will ensure those delegates are catered for. If its a handful of people this does not effect the cost. If we had to produce in batch this would cost more. Other dietaries such as Kosher would always be an additional £50+ per person due to the extremely strict nature of this dietary. From past events only a handful of people make themselves known about dietaries hardly any vegans. So they must be happy with the choices provided to them? eg. Salads etc.

From a cost and popularity perspective I do not think we need to have a catering option that is vegan for events for the foreseeable future.

vegansatevents says:

Hi Katie, thank you for your reply.
We have contacted 2 well known organisations/venues in our local area who can confirm that they have a larger profit per head for vegans, rather than those who eat meat at their events.
Peta also suggests that vegan options can be a lot cheaper than meat options. Here is the link: peta.org.uk

Thank you for your other points, we find them very interesting! Do you not think that events should automatically cater for vegans to make sure that they are being inclusive? If they are seen as discriminating against certain groups of people, this could have a great effect on the reputation of the company and event.

Mark Harsant says:

I agree with the comments outlined by Bethany. Having to legally provide a vegan option at an event will never pass, it’s just not a strong enough case and even if The Vegan Society get a further 90,000 signatures in the next 4 months MP’s won’t necessarily approve it, in the unlikely scenario of them doing so I think this undermines all the other really legitimate petitions that are ongoing for much more important causes. It’s all very simple, comes down to the efficiency and detailed planning by the event manager to have informed the venue or caterer prior to the event of the number of dietary requirements attending the particular event including vegans of course. Yes, numbers of dietary requirements seemed to be slightly rising but I don’t think it’s a real concern for Event Managers, hotels or caterers. As the demand increases slightly so will there demand to suppliers. I found further information on dietary requirements on the event manager blog below which you may find interesting if you haven’t seen it before.

https://www.eventmanagerblog.com/attendees-with-special-diets

vegansatevents says:

Thank you for your insight Mark. You raise an interesting point that this petition doesn’t guarantee government approval. Do you think therefore, that this petition ignores the important message of veganism being an ethical cause? Are there any other causes that you would place as more important than this one for the events industry?

We absolutely agree that Event Managers should be managing the dietary requirements of their guests, but do all managers currently do this? The blog that you highlighted is the perfect example of best practice but could legal application ensure this is common place?

Shauna Williams says:

Although catering for every individual is important when planning and managing events, I have to agree with many other comments that veganism is a minority and therefore passing a law on ensuring vegans are always catered for is a bit ridiculous. Of course you don’t want any guest to feel excluded, so therefore it is down to the event manager to inform the venue of any vegan or other dietary requirements as opposed to a set dish being available. Like others have stated, fruit and vegetables will always be available at events so vegan diets will never go without at events.
However, it was very interesting to see the growth of veganism in the last few years and see how this could potentially affect the industry. Nevertheless I stick with my point as to rather implementing legal actions, event managers should be mindful and take into consideration vegan diets as opposed to this being legal at all events.

vegansatevents says:

Thank you for your comment Shauna.

Although this petition is to make it a legal requirement that public sector organisations have to provide a vegan option it isn’t specific to events. Our argument is that if it is passed as a law, public sector organisations are highly likely to make it best practice to provide a vegan option at their events, it may also influence event managers in other sectors to follow suit.

Do you currently take vegan diets into consideration when you are managing events? Is this something that you will consider now that you have read this article and seen the rate at which veganism is growing?

Very interesting read and information provided. I have to agree it would be very difficult to accommodate everyone’s various needs and requirements for each event, but maybe a more diverse menu choice should be on offer so the clients have a full choice to hand and match this to the message on the event. If the standard to animal slaughter was brought to a correct level and no animals killed for religious purposes, everyone would be happier in the meat food chain

vegansatevents says:

Thanks for commenting Nicola! We agree that logistically catering for every attendee is difficult, however with vegan catering options on the rise, could it be considered easier than ever? Or do caterers need to make further developments to make it a more accessible options for managers?

Matching your catering to your event message is ideal as much research suggests that food is an integral part of the event experience!

It’s interesting that you are considering national welfare standards. The vegan trend has quadrupled in the last 5 years with millennials leading this trend. Do you think that less meat consumption within the industry is realistically viable? Do you think being more ethical would make you more attractive to potential clients?

Sarah goodall says:

Very interesting read and I wasn’t aware of this new potential law. Having worked in events for a number of years I know how much of a nightmare catering for all different dietary requirements can be. I do think it’s important to consider people’s requirements..but as many people have already mentioned above, where do you stop? If events are going to have to cater for such a vast range of ‘trend’ dietary requirements this could have a huge impact on the cost and profit of the event with potentially a small uptake on the available options also resulting in a large amount of waste! Hmm bit of a mine field that one!

vegansatevents says:

Thank you for commenting Sarah! We’re glad we could spread the message to the industry.

It’s certainly an important point to consider the viability to event managers of catering for everyone’s requirements. But veganism currently gets three times more interest than vegetarian and gluten free searches, as a rising trend is it a manager’s duty to remain contemporary through their offerings?

Of course, there are ways to make this easier, as highlighted by Mark previously, you can ask attendees with dietary requests to pre-order and in this way the event doesn’t hemorrhage money on offering multiple catering options on the day. Would this option be more attractive to yourself or your clients? Would you agree that one option to suit all dietary requirements could work?

Alternatively, from your experience in the industry what solution would you suggest for the public event sector?

Sarah says:

Very interesting read and I wasn’t aware of this new potential law. Having worked in events for a number of years I know how much of a nightmare catering for all different dietary requirements can be. I do think it’s important to consider people’s requirements..but as many people have already mentioned above, where do you stop? If events are going to have to cater for such a vast range of ‘trend’ dietary requirements this could have a huge impact on the cost and profit of the event with potentially a small uptake on the available options also resulting in a large amount of waste! Hmm bit of a mine field that one!

Vegan options not only accommodates dietary requirements of allergens, but it also caters towards pescatarians, vegetarians and others cultural and religious habits = BROAD EVENTS MARKET!

An interesting and very contemporary topic.

Veganism is not only becoming a fast growing business and trend, but it is a lifestyle that when adopted, can help balance out the disparity caused by the consumption of animal products, a huge if not the main cause of climate change.

Only if this would have to do with animal welfare, but it goes beyond that.
Many of us are not aware that the true reason behind agriculture’s impacts on climate change is due to the exploitation of fields and deforestation to cater for the cultivation of grain to feed the animals- 50% of the world’s grain consumption comes from them, big enough to feed the whole starving population on earth. Subsequently, the ground used to raise the cattle and the gallons and gallons of water used to maintain them!

“Cow’s shit”… well, that is carbon emission too!

Cowspiracy offers a great overview on the carbon footprint of agriculture. Watch it if you can.

We have also written a very interesting and quick to read article on Environmental Sustainability! Have a look and share your thoughts on the blog.

https://uniofglos.blog/eventsglos/2018/11/05/should-events-cost-the-earth/?fbclid=IwAR0SQ9Y9hdPPCMs2TfeQbX-A7RstnysUc_rvj287qmSWEgOrY2xVcOZMXOQ

Thank you for a great discussion! 🙂

vegansatevents says:

Thank you for your comment Andrea. Many others have commented on the fact that vegan options can also cater for a range of other dietaries and we like your point about this helping to expand an event’s target audience.

You have mentioned some really interesting points about the impact of producing meat on climate change, and the public are becoming more aware of this as many articles are being published about this issue. One such article by the BBC states that scientists claim that beef consumption alone must be reduced by 90% in western countries to reduce climate change, and with 55% of Britons citing animal welfare concerns, the number of vegans are likely to rise significantly in the coming years, which could increase vegan demand at events.

We found your article really interesting! Do you think event managers should be catering for vegans, not only to satisfy the demand, but also due to CSR and their responsibility to our environment?

Nina says:

This is a good blog with some interesting statistics on the amount of people who have become vegan. I have a dairy free diet myself (not by choice) and find it very difficult at events to find options which are dairy free. But if events are to have a vegan menu then to what extent should event managers cater for? If they offer a vegan menu then surely it is only fair to offer a dairy free, gluten free or Halal/Kosher menu? And what about people who have a diet which has to be ‘free from’ but it’s not by choice, it’s an intolerant/allergy?

vegansatevents says:

We really appreciate you joining the discussion Nina!
You raise a good point about the inclusivity vegan catering offers. Are you more likely to attend an event that offers vegan catering than one that doesn’t because of your dairy free diet?

As has been pointed out in previous comments, vegan food does cover a wide range of other dietaries but we understand your point that there are others and that many events do not yet cater for this. Research shows that veganism is the fastest growing trend in the UK at the moment which is why we have emphasised the importance of catering to this at events. There are a number of logistical elements to catering for multiple dietary requirements at events which is likely why this is currently not the case. Do you think attendees should be allowed to bring their own food to catered events if they have a specific dietary requirement? Or should managers always have dietary specific options available on stand-by?

Amelia says:

What a thoughtful article full of insightful points, a very delightful read! As a member in the private sector I see catering for all as a must and various dieatry requirements.

But where does it stop? Are we going to cater no pork at all wedding and events for guests with religious reasons as to no offend them.

vegansatevents says:

Thank you for your comment Amelia, it’s fantastic to get the opinion from the private sector on this potential legislation.

We certainly don’t want to overwhelm event managers with new requirements as attendee expectation is already on the rise. But would a vegan provision excite your guests? Would it not be a way of differentiating your events from the competition?

You raise an interesting point that guests sometimes have religious reasoning for their diet, this is definitely something that can be controlled through pre-ordering. But would you have any advice for public sector managers who may not have the opportunity to preorder for guests? What does your organisation currently do to cater inclusively?

Lorna says:

I was delighted to read this blog about the growth of veganism. I found it to be hugely informative and I will be delighted to pass it on to my colleagues and chef at our venue!

vegansatevents says:

Hi Lorna, we are so pleased you found the blog of interest and that it might be a useful resource for you and your colleagues, thank you for passing it on.

If the law is passed it may encourage public sector event managers to ensure they always cater for vegans, do you think this will influence private sector organisations like yours to implement the initiative as well? Do you already have any measures in place to cater for vegans at your venue? Do you find that it makes significant changes to your logistics or budgets?

Anna Newman says:

This is an interesting blog. However I hope that should any law be passed they consider the size of the events being held and consider that a law like this wouldn’t fit all events. For example a small local event may not have the facilities to cater for every option to suit everyone’s dietary requirements unless they outsourced the food to independent food vans etc… It may make smaller events nonviable to run once the costs of these are taken into account.

vegansatevents says:

Afternoon Anna, thank you for your comment! You make a very valid point that smaller events may struggle logistically to offer both vegan and non-vegan options, especially as many public sector events are low cost due to being free to attend and it may not be cost effective to offer multiple options.

Perhaps a solution could be that the smaller events could outsource their catering to independent caterers for no charge and allow them to keep the profits, from our experience this is something that has worked in the past for charities that do not have the budget for catering provision. Do you think this could be a way to keep all stakeholders happy?

Hi, I for one could not live without eating animals, if they didn’t taste so good we wouldn’t do it ! However catering for different dietary requirements is a powerful marketing aid showing a considerate, inclusive event with a modern event team behind it. You cannot give me a good reason for not being inclusive, if its trendy they spendy ! We are always looking to include all groups at our County Showcase and this years ‘Best Trade Stand’ went to our Vegan option, I am sure this may make debate in Parliament, however, I am sure no government would pass legislation on this.

vegansatevents says:

Thanks for joining the conversation Darren! We certainly appreciate your view on a vegan diet, do you think you could ever try being flexitarian as recent articles show that this is one of three key steps to a sustainable future in 2050?

From an economic perspective “trending=spending” is indeed a very valid point and catchy too! We certainly believe that it is a case of supply and demand. It’s really interesting that your ‘Best Trade Stand’ went to your vegan caterer this year. Was this your only vegan option at the event? Did you notice that there was a high demand for vegan food at the event?

What’s your main reason for not believing that this petition will make it into government law? Regardless if the law is passed, do you think that event managers should start considering vegan options more often in public events?

Hi Again, we did have more than one Vegan option, but one (the prize winner) was well presented and went the extra mile. I did eat there and enjoyed it. There is an increase in the demand for vegan options and that is the event organisers marketing marvel.
I don’t believe this can make it to law as it is not workable and unrealistic. I am an event organiser and tend to run on coffee and bacon sandwiches so restricting my diet would be good but impractical.

vegansatevents says:

Welcome back Darren, thank you for providing an interesting debate! Fantastic, we love to hear that event managers are embracing growing consumer markets. Do you think that a catalyst for veganism becoming popular is not just marketing but the ethical practice of individuals as well? After all, vegan catering isn’t just trendy but also is arguably more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

We certainly take on board that you don’t think a law is realistic but why do you think this if you have managed to incorporate this offering into your events? Running on quick energy food is certainly something that we all have experience of working in the event industry, but don’t forget that snacks such as polo mints and coca cola are vegan!

ManorMike says:

Great article. Do you think that the sharp increase in vegans and demand for a vegan menu will see the vegetarian options with dairy products reduced instead of the ‘meat eater’ selection?

vegansatevents says:

Hi Mike, thank you for this point. Depending on the event manager, hopefully neither (meats and vegetarian) options will be reduced. The aim of this petition is to gain vegan options, rather than effect other dietary options. This week Sky News reported that a ‘meat tax’ could be introduced, causing the price of meat to increase considerably – SkyNews.com Therefore, if the event is restricted to a budget, it is more likely in the future that the amount of meat that is offered is reduced, rather than vegetarian options.
Do you believe that the possible meat tax could affect your future events?

John says:

A very interesting article. Whilst it may seem like a good idea to force through legislation like this, maybe I can be a little controversial by saying “so what”?! Whilst the rise in veganism has been rapid over the last two years, by my reckoning they still only account 1/2 of 1% of the total population of the UK. To initiate legislation on behalf of such a small minority seems rather heavy handed. Additionally, why the focus on public sector? In an ideal world market factors drive product offerings and so if a public sector organisation is providing a small event, is it feasible for them to be able to provide them, as a matter of course?

vegansatevents says:

Hi John, thank you for your comment. It’s an interesting point you make about the 1% of the population, may we ask where you got this figure? As according to the Independent – 7% of British people now follow a plant based diet. In relation to your point about the focus on the public sector, the petition itself is aimed at making it a legal requirement for the public sector in general to provide vegan options. The public sector opens more doors for Vegans in their day to day lives e.g. in education and councils but is often slower on the uptake as it is not necessarily driven by profit like the private sector. We would argue if this law is passed it may influence best practice of public sector event managers, which in turn may affect the entire industry. About the so what?! Do you agree it’s important event managers are seen to have some corporate social responsibility? If event managers opt to provide vegan options at their events not only are they being inclusive of all of their attendees but they are showing they care about animals, the environment and health which could also be a good marketing tool for them.

Mark Edwards says:

Having worked in events for over 30 years including corporate hospitality, the only concern this prospective law holds is its policing and enforcement. Events with multiple food outlets such as music festivals and sports will simply subcontract this operation to a specialist supplier. Single food outlet events such as corporate dining and hospitality will have to train staff and do some research regarding menus and food provenance, and probably modify their veggy option to vegan. Breaches of the law could involve lengthy and costly legal bills and it will be necessary to keep meticulous records from subcontractors and food suppliers so as to demonstrate reasonable compliance.

vegansatevents says:

Hi Mark, thank you for your thoughts on this.
If this law is brought into action, we understand policing it could be a challenge. But currently this petition just relates to public sector organisations. We believe that if this law was put in place, that this sector would be easier to police than the private sector due to frequent reviews of these organisations, such as schools. Also, with regards to the potential impact on events, the law will incentivise managers to ensure they are catering inclusively. The law change will make sure that staff are more well-rounded, well trained on cross-contamination and dietary requirements which will therefore boost the skills within the industry.
How would you best advise for policing this catering at events? And how would you deal with breaches of the law in this case?

Mark Edwards says:

Given that it would normally be impractical to cater for each specialist dietary requirement individually, it maybe best to incorporate them all into a specialist menu which is both vegan and allergen free. Vegan menus exist which exclude all 8 major allergens. Policing policy within the catering operation would include : certificated and signed evidence of staff training; clearly labelled/colour coded food prep equipment; separate and clearly designated storage, prep and serving stations; full printed list of menu ingredients at the specialist serving station; log book of historical menus/ingredients used at each event; maybe even an Anaphylaxsis Emergency Response Case (only £35) on site and details of nearest hospital to hand.
The Food Standards Agency regulates the industry and all breaches of the law are handled in the Civil or Criminal Court depending on case severity. 2 guys were jailed for 5 years recently for serving allergens in a curry which proved fatal to the customer.

vegansatevents says:

Thank you for continuing the discussion Mark! You make some very valid points, it has been a solution that has been raised in previous comments to merge vegan and vegetarian options. Of course there are venues that currently offer allergen specific meals but these are usually under a pre-tence of preordering. The policy procedure you mention is similar to best practice at the moment however, do you think that for some catering organisations this will be a large change? I think with the Anaphylaxis case, we begin to confuse dietary requirements with food preferences. In this case we are looking towards veganism as a provision for those who choose the diet, do you believe that adding this catering option you could improve the event experience for your delegates?

The case you are referring to is indeed very relevant however, it is referring to dealing with allergens correctly. The law that we are referring to is about inclusivity for those who choose this lifestyle, in your experience, would your attendees enjoy a wider, more varied provision of food?

Mark Edwards says:

Some choose veganism for allergy reasons (eg dairy intolerance) so it is crucial to take this matter very seriously. However, In my experience, veganism as a food choice is limited to a predominately female audience aged between 20 and 40. Therefore when trying to predict demand and minimise food wastage its a good idea to consider the demographic profile of the expected audience eg a conference of quarry managers is unlikely to contain many vegans (maybe 2% max) whereas a conference of council employees could be up around 5%. If we extend this population to include vegetarian then these figures would triple. This is purely based on my professional experience and undoubtedly these figures are slowly increasing and the age profile will extend as the existing vegan population ages

vegansatevents says:

Welcome back Mark, it’s great that from years of experience you are able to gage the demographic of your events. We certainly agree the vegan market is predominately females, however do you think if veganism continues to grow at the current pace, veganism in men could significantly rise? The conference figures you mention are very interesting and even more so that these would triple if vegetarian figures where to be included. It’s clear events already take vegetarian options seriously so do you agree this should be the same when considering vegan options? In terms of predicting demand and minimising food waste, considering the demographic is certainly a good place to start but could requesting dietary requirements beforehand or as previously mentioned, combining vegetarian and vegan options together be more sustainable?

Megan says:

This is a really interesting article. Veganism is becoming a much more common trend in society today and the events industry has to adapt to cater for this in order to provide a certain expected standard of customer service. But I can’t help but think – how can society be so demanding when there are others in third-world countries who do not have the luxury of choosing the food they are eating. Part of me feels that people should be grateful having food available.

I agree with the comments above. If venues are legally required to have a vegan menu where does it stop? Do we also have to have a non-dairy menu? A gluten-free menu? A nut-free menu? A pescaterian menu? A vegaterian menu? A cannibal menu? Before we know it we are going to have about 50 different menus at our small venue! It is impossible to cater for every individual requirement.

vegansatevents says:

Thank you so much for your comment Megan. We are delighted you enjoyed reading this post. What interesting thought you pose about attendees being grateful for the food on offer. Events are not seen as a necessity for human survival but a luxury experience. As an event professional it could be argued that it is in your best interest to please your attendees who use their money on a leisure experience by catering for their dietary needs? We understand that catering for several requirements for a small venue or small budget may be unrealistic however with veganism becoming so popular when you cater for the masses would you include a vegan dish along with your vegetarian?

Louis says:

Very informative read! Was sent this by a friend and am glad that I now have a better understanding on the situation. Shall be sharing this as well

vegansatevents says:

Hi Louis, we’re delighted you found our blog an informative read and it’s interesting for us to know that we’ve highlighted points about veganism that some may not have known. We’d really appreciate you sharing our blog, thank you for your cooperation in our discussion.

Natasha says:

Hello, really interesting article and as a fellow vegan myself, great to see the conversation taking place!

I have organised several public sector events and although we encourage a variety of caterers to attend, I have rarely received any interest from a vegan trader wishing to come along. There aren’t a huge amount of vegan traders in the area, and they tend to want to commit to events where they know they will be popular and do well (such as vegan focused markets).

We invite all caterers to take part in our events for free, so requiring us to spend more time and money on securing a vegan caterer could potentially cause a bigger strain on us and our free events.

However we have had caterers in the past, offer vegetarian and vegan options – to what extent do you think it is the responsibility of a caterer to offer a vegan option? Surely it would be in their interest to appeal to more customers, especially with the rise in veganism, wouldn’t it?

I don’t think it should be a legal requirement, but with the obvious growth in veganism, I believe everyone would benefit by catering for more “in-demand” dietary requirements.

(Would really appreciate your thoughts on our blog on Environmental Sustainability where we make reference to veganism at events – https://uniofglos.blog/eventsglos/2018/11/05/should-events-cost-the-earth/ )

vegansatevents says:

Hi Natasha, thank you for joining our discussion, it’s not only great to get the opinion of someone who organises events within the public sector but also of someone who is vegan. It’s an interesting point you raise about the lack of interest from vegan traders at your events. If this is the case, does this mean there is usually limited options for vegans at your events? In relation to your point about the time and money spent on securing a vegan caterer, do you think that if you were to do this and actively market it, your events may attract a new audience and potentially increase attendees numbers, which in turn could benefit your events in the long run? With the rapid growth in veganism we agree that it should be in the interest of the caterer to provide for this market, however, does it come down to the event manager to ensure there is provision of this at their events? The blog on Environmental Sustainability sounds like an interesting, relatable read we’ll take a look!

Aby says:

I found this article really interesting to read! I do agree with those who have asked about where we will draw the line with various other dietary requirements, whether they are allergies or religious requirements for example.

vegansatevents says:

Thank you for your comment Aby! We focused this article on the vegan diet less for allergen reasons and more so for inclusivity purposes. Because veganism has grown so quickly in the last few years, do you think that catering for vegans would offer a unique and potentially healthier catering option for your guests?

Maggie A says:

People are becoming more aware of their health and the benefits of veganism are now being talked about openly. We have noticed that dietary requirements are no longer restricted to vegetarians. Catering suppliers that we use for corporate events are already providing alternative menu options for those with dietary requirements including detailed allergy advice. It will be interesting to follow this debate and see if potential new law will have an impact on events.

vegansatevents says:

Thank you for your comment Maggie! We’re so glad to hear that you are implementing vegan catering within your events business. With this month being vegan month, we are seeing a huge increase in the amount of press and awareness in the industry. The petition has developed already since publishing, so we would definitely suggest following along. Over 13,000 signatures have already been achieved! Have your catering suppliers recently made vegan options available or has this always been the case?

Luke S says:

Very interesting read, and some very valid points from both sides. I have been at a number of events, both remote and in exhibition centres. Now, of course, exhibition centres have pretty much every base covered in terms of catering or individual dining establishments that cover almost every market and dietary requirement as they’ve attacked the gaps in the market. However, even in certain purpose-built centres, in-house caterers can almost give off the aura of vegan food or different requirements as a difficulty or ‘an extra thing to do’, it’s not that they are against it, but is there enough being done to change their view on other requirements, and make it seem like it’s not as difficult as it may be or such a hassle? So it may not be as easy as everyone thinks, as to change the human psyche in itself, is one of the hardest tasks, even if there as laws in place, it doesn’t always mean everyone will follow at all times!

vegansatevents says:

Thank you for your comment Luke. It is interesting that you have picked up on it being an attitude problem within the industry.

It’s recently been reported that a third of the British population have either halted or lessened their meat consumption, do you think therefore, that if the popularity of veganism is on an upwards trajectory that it will be impossible for event managers to ignore?

Do you think the attitude of venues and event managers towards dietary requirements, such as veganism, could get worse if the law is put in place?

Do you agree with that it is in an event manager’s best interest to cater for all requirements? If yes, do you think it is in their economic interest or the interest of customer satisfaction?

Mhairi Smith says:

I have organised large scale events in the public sector for 20 years – and have seen catering trends change quite a bit over that time. However, it has been rare to even find even vegetarian stalls only who are interested in coming to events that are 2,000 people or less. I guess they struggle to sell enough. We do however, find a lot of caterers who offer vegetarian and vegan options on their menus along with meat options – which I appreciate may not please the hardcore vegans out there.
I know that in recent years there are far more vegetarians and vegans and hopefully this will be reflected with an increase in vegetarian and vegan caterers.
I do agree with other comments on here that I don’t think offering a vegan only option should be made legal – as event organisers we have moral responsibilities to cater to our audience – but if it becomes legal – then where do we draw the line? If we end up having to offer a wide range of food offerings – the people that lose out are actually the caterers – as they just don’t make enough money if they are competing with a large number of other catering stalls. We as event organisers then end up with caterers not arriving or trying to leave the site early – or having our ear bent about how unfair it is!
This is a really interesting discussion though thanks for the subject and for raising my
awareness to this proposal.

vegansatevents says:

Thank you for your comment Mhairi.

It is interesting that you struggle to find exclusively vegetarian or vegan caterers, but you are able to find inclusive caterers. This reflects the outcome that the petition is hoping for as they want inclusive menus. The aim is for Vegans to be included in mass catering. It is great to hear that this is something you already do.

If this law comes into practice it shouldn’t affect you as much because you are already being inclusive to Vegans.

From your experience, do you think this law will have a big impact on public events, due to the fact you are already inclusive with your catering?

Richard says:

A really engaging discussion here. If by ‘public sector’ do you mean events that are derived from central and local government supported by local funds: if so, then I guess there remains a moral obligation to cater for all. Outside of the public sphere there remains a wider debate about the extent that government should intervene in the market. Legislation may not be necessary, but winning a licence to hold an event may be contingent upon what sort of catering options are offered? Can we find answers to this sticky problem by looking at how events are catered for in other places like Turkey, or India or Malaysia?

vegansatevents says:

Thank you for joining the discussion Richard! By public sector, we mean the section of the economy that is government controlled. It’s interesting that you refer to a moral obligation for catering inclusively, our research suggests that corporate social responsibility definitely plays a part, but would you consider this as morally driven or profit driven?

Your next suggestion is very valid, do you think that increasing provision through licensing conditions would be a more feasible option? Certainly, India is where veganism actually originated from in 500bc, their diets similarly to Malaysia are usually very plant based, do you think that these countries represent the way our events are heading. Do you see issues implementing similar catering to the UK market?

I have been organising events for many years and have seen a considerable shift. I have found that at least 50% of event caterers now offer a vegan option but this has only happened in the last 12/18 months. Vegan only caterers are becoming more available though are still very thin on the ground. It is, however still rare to get a variety of vegan options (the logistics of being able to separate meat and non-meat in an event catering setting can be very challenging).
I think that if there is a change in legislation, event organisers and caterers will adapt quickly and a lot of new and exciting vegan options will come on to the market.

vegansatevents says:

Thank you for your comment, Karen. It is no surprise that you have witnessed an increase in vegan options offered by caterers over the past year or two, as the number of vegans since 2016 has more than quadrupled in the UK. Do you think that the number of exclusively vegan caters will rise just as quickly, as the trend grows even more or do you think the legislation is necessary to drive this?

Would you, as an event manager, prefer to have exclusively vegan caters and non-vegan caterers separately or caterers that can do both at your events?

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