This week (8th-14th May) is Coeliac Awareness Week. You can keep up to date with the campaign by using the hashtag #glutenfreevolution.
Being gluten-free is a lifestyle choice for many, however it is also essential to the health of others. For people with coeliac disease, accidentally eating gluten is described as being “glutened.” If this happens, they are likely to experience uncomfortable symptoms like stomach pain, cramps, bloating and vomiting and diarrhoea over a number of hours or days.
According to the campaign, ‘over 90% of people on a gluten free diet ate out in the last month, yet issues with responsiveness of staff and food safety persist, with over 50% saying that the experience can be frustrating and 25% suspecting that they had been “glutened”.’
With around 3% of the population (1.3 million Brits) choosing to live a gluten-free lifestyle, the gluten freevolution wants to change the way gluten-free food is available.
As with many specialist diets, being gluten-free can feel isolating at times, especially when it comes to eating out with family and friends. Finding restaurants that offer one or more gluten-free option can be difficult, but not impossible. Many chain restaurants, such as Frankie & Benny’s, Bella Italia, Pizza Express, Chiquito and Handmade Burger Company, have been accredited by Coeliac UK in an attempt to make eating out easier for gluten free lifestyles. However, eating at small, independent restaurants can still be a challenge.
As a result of this, the main aim of the gluten freevolution campaign is to encourage small and medium sized food businesses, especially independent restaurants, pubs, local cafes and local takeaways, to offer more gluten free options.
Whilst there has been a rise (and improvement) in the amount of gluten free food on offer in supermarkets in the last three years, it is worth noting that many ‘free-from’ foods are not necessarily healthy. Blogger Lea from Can Eat Attitude talks about some of the challenges of mainstreaming free-from in her recent article for the HBC magazine. In the article Lea touches on the problems with gluten free labelling, and how it doesn’t mean that the food is “good for you”, wholesome or nutritious. This is why other aims of the Gluten freevolution campaign include making sure gluten-free food options are nutritiousl, reasonably priced, easily-accessible when on the go and also offer vegetarian options.
You can find out more about the campaign and join the gluten freevolution on the Coeliac UK website.