Marlborough restaurants have been adapting and expanding their menus to cater for an increasing number of people deciding to go paleo or gluten free.
The owners of The Cornerstone Bar & Restaurant, Ryan and Tash McQuillan, introduced a paleo menu after they tried the diet, and found it difficult to stick to when eating out.
The paleo diet, known as the cave man diet, champions only those foods that would have been available to early humans.
It allows fruit and vegetables, eggs, nuts, seeds, some oils, seafood and animals that eat plants.
Dairy products, bread, grains, rice, potatoes, legumes and refined sugar are banned.
"It was a bit tricky if we were going out to try and stick to the menu and you would get a bit embarrassed asking people to change their menus because I know what it feels like [when people do that]," Ryan McQuillan said.
Their new menu had been well received, and he looked to expand it after meeting up with a like-minded friend in Dublin.
"He has started a business where they deliver paleo meals to people . . . [so] we're doing a sort of recipe swap type thing (with the Dublin friend) and building up a bit of a portfolio."
Watery Mouth Cafe owner Juliet Partington said she was beginning to notice the paleo trend was becoming increasingly popular among her customers.
The most common requests she had previously received were for gluten-free options, and she had developed her menu to accommodate 25 gluten-free meals.
The options were not so much to cater for those who were gluten intolerant, but more for those choosing to remove gluten from their diets for their own reasons, Partington said.
"People are increasingly aware of where their food comes from and what's in it, and what makes them feel good and healthy . . . there's not a lot that are actually celiac but a lot are choosing not to have gluten in their diet."
Adapting your menu came with the nature of the job, she said.
"Customers are our business and so if we can make them happy by offering them what their needs are we just do it."
Ritual cafe co-owner Heather McAlpine said creating new recipes and combinations to cater for different dietary requirements had become a fun challenge for their day.
Customers were still mainly requesting gluten-free options, but they also had quite a few asking for paleo options as well. The restaurant also tried to have lots of vegan meals available, she said.
"When you get your head around it it's good, it adds a new challenge for the day trying different recipes . . . it's fun, we like it," McAlpine said.
In the two years the cafe had been open, McAlpine had seen an increase in the number of people with special require- ments.
"I was catering for Outward Bound for quite a number of years and we would have a few [requests] but it was very rare," she said.
The main requirements in her catering days were for dairy free options and some gluten-free, but McAlpine believed the majority of gluten-free customers now were removing the ingredient by choice.
"I think people are choosing not to [eat it] because it doesn't make them feel very well," she said.
- The Marlborough Express