Experiencing new foods is one of the great joys of traveling. Food is a triple layer of culture to be seen, smelled, and tasted.
Dining in foreign countries can be a challenge when a member of your family has food allergies or restrictions. It can be difficult to know how food is prepared or what those unique foods actually have in them.
Handling Food Allergies When Traveling in Ireland with Kids
Ireland has been listing allergen information on its pre-packaged foods since 2005, and in 2014 allergen labeling was added to restaurant menus.
Though the appearance of listings will vary by the menu, you will find notations for the following allergens: gluten, shellfish, eggs, fish, soybean products, milk, nuts, celery, sesame seeds, and mustard. Some menus will include additional allergens.
This menu from a pub in Donegal is very easy to read. The keynote allergens and each menu item are clearly marked for the allergens it contains.
Some menus will list notations for gluten, vegetarian, and vegan, with an additional notation on the menu that an allergen guide is available on request.
Eating Fresh and Local in Ireland
‘Farm to Table’ is a way of life in Ireland. It’s easy to overlook that Ireland, as an island nation, has always practiced a ‘local food’ culture. This is incredibly beneficial to anyone traveling in Ireland with food allergies as the majority of ingredients will come from no further than 20 miles down the road. The ingredients used to create the meal in front of you were most likely purchased directly from the farmer who produced them.
Because of this, chefs, pub owners, and even waitstaff can answer all your questions about each menu item- down to where it came from and possibly how it was grown!
Tips for Handling Food Allergies in Ireland
If you are traveling with food allergies in Ireland you shouldn’t have any problems finding and enjoying a wide variety of local and regional dishes. These few tips will help you navigate Ireland’s wonderful food culture.
- Check your menu for allergen notations. Most will have some sort of information.
- If you don’t see allergen information listed ask your server if an allergen guide is available.
- Remember that many smaller establishments in Ireland change their menu daily based on what is fresh and local. Because so much is made to order items can be altered to suit dietary needs.
- When in doubt, ask. You’ll find Ireland is a friendly place and people are happy to help.
Jody Halsted is the author of the award-winning book Planning the Ireland Vacation of Your Dreams. Jody has been traveling across Ireland for over 15 years with her own children, discovering the most family-friendly sites and activities on the tourist trail and off. Dedicated to Ireland family travel, her website Ireland Family Vacations provides exceptional advice for a magical Ireland vacation. For families looking for a perfectly tailored Ireland vacation, Jody offers Ireland vacation coaching, working with your family to help you choose the perfect lodging, destinations, and activities to fit your budget, interests, and expectations.
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