Gluten-free and vegetarian top healthy claims

July 17 2014

When it comes to restaurants trying to promote healthier options or appeal to diners who choose not to eat certain foods, gluten-free and vegetarian labels are most commonly used.

Technomic's MenuMonitor database showed the former health claim appeared 560 times on menus throughout Canada, Restaurant Central reports. This highlights just how conscious operators are of the fact that some individuals are not eating gluten products, whether that's down to dietary restrictions or just an attempt to cut certain foods out of their diets.

These findings do not come as a surprise, considering that earlier in the year Restaurants Canada said gluten-free dining was the number one food trend in the country. 

Coming in close second was vegetarian, with 443 mentions. Again, alongside individuals who choose not to eat meat due to ethical or moral reasons, there is thought to be a growing number of consumers who are trying to reduce their meat intake. This could be down to cost or health reasons, and such people are sometimes referred to as flexitarians. 

Some operators are offering vegetarians the option to have a meat-free version of the signature dish on the menu in a bid not to exclude such diners. This could be a vegetable-based burger or using an alternative form of protein to replace the meat items in salads. 

While meat is sometimes replaced with a tofu or mock substitute, a growing number of restaurateurs are choosing to make a vegetable-based item the focal point of dishes. This could include stuffed peppers or marinated eggplant.

Quinoa is one food that is also growing in popularity - voted second place in the survey - and is suitable for both vegans and those avoiding gluten in their diets. It is also a so-called superfood due to its impressive nutritional profile and is gaining traction among health-conscious consumers. 

Organic appeared 333 times, highlighting its perceived importance to diners. Alongside the desire for healthy food, customers are keen to know their food does not have any chemical additives, such as preservatives or pesticides. 

Not only does the organic label provide individuals with the peace of mind that the food they are tucking into is fresh and natural, but it also has sustainable connotations. For those who are keen to ensure their food is eco-friendly, the inclusion of organic food in menus certainly enhances consumer appeal. 

In fourth place came the term healthy, while decaf and natural came in fifth and sixth respectively. It seems diners are increasingly interested in knowing not only where their food came from, but also what's inside it. The inclusion of decaf in particular suggests some are concerned about the chemicals they are putting into their body and appreciate being able to have a caffeine-free hot beverage, perhaps especially later in the day.

Lowfat, nutritious, Grade A and sugar-free also had positions on the top ten list and considering some of these are synonymous with earlier options, it only goes to emphasize just how much attention individuals are paying to their diets.