Tips for creating an inclusive food experience

Food and drink is a huge part of every event, so we recommend ensuring every attendee is well catered for with an inclusive food experience.

A big part of achieving this is recognising that not everyone’s dietary needs and preferences are the same.

Alex Palmer, founder of Kina Events, says:

Providing diverse and accommodating food and beverage options at events can vastly improve your guests’ experience and, ultimately, make your events more successful. 

“By making sure everyone can eat and drink things that they enjoy, you’re helping create an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere.”

Dietary requirements to consider include: allergies, intolerances, religious or cultural dietary restrictions, ethical choices like vegetarianism and veganism – and, of course, personal preferences.

Here are our practical tips for creating a menu that caters for all your attendees:

Ask people what they want

It sounds simple, but sending a survey to everyone attending your event remains the best way to find out about any dietary preferences and restrictions.

Make sure you do this well in advance and before you plan your event’s food offering.

This will help you tailor the menu to your specific audience and accommodate as many requests as possible.

Provide diverse options

If you can, create a menu that includes a variety of options for each of the common dietary requirements (for example: gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan and nut-free).

It’s also a good idea to label each dish clearly with allergen information so your guests can be confident about the food choices they’re making.

If an attendee has informed you of a food allergy, make sure you confirm the venue’s procedures in case of a medical emergency.

Designate specific areas or tables for allergen-free options to prevent cross-contamination – and provide peace of mind for attendees with severe allergies. 

Clearly mark these zones and ensure staff are trained to handle allergen-free requests safely.

Consider religious and cultural dietary requirements

Some religious dietary guidelines are observed year-round (such as Kosher) and others at certain times of the year.

Plus your guests may follow any restrictions to varying degrees, so never assume and use the pre-event survey to discover individuals’ specific choices.

You can also check religious calendars (for example Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism) for festivals and special days that might fall on the same day as your event – and involve additional dietary guidelines or even fasting, which may result in some guests deciding not to attend.

Alex says:

Your menu is an opportunity to celebrate the diversity of your attendees by including dishes from different cultures and cuisines. 

“Not only will this add variety to your menu, it will allow your attendees to experience new flavours and traditions.

“Interactive or DIY food stations where attendees can customise their meals can also help add an element of fun – and allow your guests more control over their food choices.”

It’s important to ensure food stations are easily accessible to all attendees, including those with mobility impairments or disabilities.

Placing them at a comfortable height and providing ample space for wheelchair users are examples of measures that might help you achieve this.

Communicate with caterers

Once you’ve identified your guests’ requirements, it’s essential you work closely with trusted suppliers who understand the importance of inclusivity – and can accommodate your list of dietary requirements. 

We recommend having guidelines in place, in particular for preparing and serving allergen-free dishes.

Provide non-alcoholic drink options

Not everyone drinks alcohol, so it’s important to offer a variety of non-alcoholic beverages alongside alcoholic ones. 

For example, you can include options such as mocktails, flavoured water, fruit juices and soft drinks.

You can ask people to provide their drinks preferences at the same time as their dietary requirements. 

Alex says:

It’s a nice idea to have a similar style of glassware for all of the drinks on offer.

“Not only does this extend the experience to all guests, but means no one has to feel singled out or give a reason for not drinking.

“It’s also worthwhile informing guests that there’s an alcohol-free option on the event invitation. 

“This means those who would usually automatically opt out because they don’t drink alcohol are much more likely to attend.”

Drinks should be clearly labelled and catering staff should be informed so they’re well-equipped to assist your guests. 

This is particularly important if you’ve followed our suggestion to have matching glassware for both drinks options as guests might assume there’s no non-alcoholic option available.

Accommodate special requests

You should expect and be prepared to accommodate special dietary requests or last-minute changes from attendees. 

Training your staff to handle these requests efficiently and courteously can help ensure a positive experience for all.

Don’t forget sustainability

It remains vital to consider the environmental impact of your food and beverage choices when devising your event menu.

We should all be sourcing local, sustainable ingredients whenever possible – and avoiding waste.

Your event should also minimise single-use plastics and encourage recycling and composting to reduce waste. 

Ask for feedback

After the event, ask attendees about their dining experience, including the variety of options, taste, presentation and overall satisfaction. 

You can use this valuable feedback to improve your efforts to be inclusive when planning future events.


If you’d like to talk to us about how we can help you make your business events more inclusive – or more generally about how we can support you – we’d love to hear from you!

You can get in touch with the Kina Events team on 020 7205 7901 or send us an email.

Tips for creating an inclusive food experience

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