We've produced a Christmas Inclusivity Guide to help ensure everyone can enjoy a delicious Christmas dinner whatever their food allergies or dietary requirements. Jo Johnson, our senior manager for innovation, introduces the guide and explains more...

Christmas should be a time for fun, filled with gatherings with friends and family – a time when food is at the heart of every moment.

It shouldn’t be a time for concern, which is why we’re committed to helping educate the nation on how to cook for people with dietary requirements or preferences.

Our new Inclusive Guide for Festive Eating helps the people who are doing the cooking this Christmas to understand the delicious range of foods they can cook for everyone to enjoy – and means nobody needs to miss out on the food they love.

From work parties, to cocktails and canapés with neighbours, to the big Christmas Day lunch itself, the season often revolves around what we’re eating and drinking, but with 60% of British households now having a member of the family with a specific dietary preference, cooking at Christmas becomes more complicated.

It means people are having to think beyond the traditional turkey and stuffing, to make sure everyone sat around the table feels included on the big day or at parties.

From gluten intolerances to plant-based diets and the growing trend for low or no alcohol, festive shopping lists are becoming longer and longer, adding stress to an already busy, hectic time, when all anybody wants to do is put their feet up and spend time with their friends and family.

That’s why in the run-up to this Christmas we've worked with a team of bloggers and our innovations development chef Andrew Johnston to create our Inclusive Guide for Festive Eating as we want to ensure our customers are ready to cater for everyone this Christmas.

Sophie Skipp – @FeedFelixFast on Instagram – was one of the bloggers who joined us at Asda House to learn how to make some fantastic recipes that Andrew developed for Christmas this year. She's also shared her top tips in the guide for fab festive meals that are suitable for the whole family. Read her blog here to find out more.

This Christmas we have 220 new products in total – 58 of these are Free From or vegan and 26% of our new Christmas food lines this year are inclusive. Find out more about our great new range of vegan products this Christmas from Andrew here.

As part of the innovations team at Asda we look into the future to spot emerging trends and consumer mind sets to make sure that we’re moving in the right direction. The innovation team first talked about inclusivity last Christmas, as more and more customers were looking to have something for everyone and make sure that no-one feels excluded no matter what their dietary need or lifestyle choice.

Andrew's created some easy crowd-pleasing recipe ideas, like these parsnip pâté and fig crostini:

Our research is typically 21 months ahead. We’re the conscience of the future – so our job is to make sure that people understand what those trends are and to then work together with other teams to bring them to life.

It became clear that we could be inclusive by developing products that were naturally allergen free or vegan, and that they could sit in our mid-tier range so everyone could enjoy them. Take our new range of vegan soups as an example. We don’t draw attention to the products being vegan, we just highlight them with the Vegan Society logo. Another example is that our Extra Special sausages are all gluten free so everyone can enjoy them. It’s not about shoehorning people into boxes – it's quite the opposite.

In August this year we launched our inclusivity initiative by linking up with parent bloggers whose children have food allergies to see how we can become even better at developing the right ranges so everyone can feel included. Research showed that 70% of kids with allergies felt excluded and we have an opportunity to do the right thing. A significant percentage of our new product launches are focused on developing Free From and vegan, with a real focus on meat alternatives and plant-based protein.

I think it’s a great gift to be able to ensure everybody can have a very happy Christmas whatever their dietary requirements.