• With the growing number of dietary requirements and preferences, new research by Asda reveals over 6 million Brits won’t be eating a traditional Christmas dinner this year
• Almost three quarters of Brits have had to cook and take their own food to festive parties, with almost half of hosts admitting they are reluctant to invite someone if they need to cook them a different meal
• To coincide with the launch of the research, Asda has produced its second guide to inclusive eating, exploring simple ways to be as inclusive as possible over Christmas with the increasing number of changing diets.

With 60% of British households with someone with a dietary requirement*, and 13% of the nation now following a plant-based diet**, the traditional Christmas turkey dinner is no longer something everyone can enjoy.

According to new research by Asda***, this growing number of dietary requirements or preferences means over 6 million Brits are unable to eat a traditional Christmas dinner, with a third of dinner guests having gone hungry at the table through fear of not wanting to make a fuss.

A further 42% have eaten something they shouldn’t so as not to upset hosts, resulting in a day spent sitting in discomfort or pain.

As the party season kicks-off, and diaries start filling with dinners, soirées and casual cocktails with friends, dietary requirements become a hot topic, with hosts catering for any number of diets they may not be familiar with. As a result, 71% of people with dietary requirements have had to cook and bring their own food to Christmas dinner or parties, simply to avoid feeling self-conscious or guilty when asking hosts for something different to eat or drink.

This worry also extends to party hosts, with 49% admitting they are reluctant to invite someone if they need to cook a different meal for them.

And it’s not just food requirements hosts need to consider over Christmas, with almost 30% stating they will be looking to drink less alcohol this season, making low or no alcohol options essential to ensuring there’s a glass of something for everyone.

Sophie Skipp, food blogger and mum to food-allergy sufferer, Felix, comments: “Our biggest worry was people would find us awkward or fussy because we had a child with a specific dietary requirement. I was forever looking for ways to ensure my son, Felix, was included in things – especially over Christmas. The worry got to the point where I was forever cooking food to take to festive events – something which is no longer necessary with the growing number of inclusive food options available at our fingertips.”

To help change the concern the nation feels when catering for dietary requirements, and help alter the conversation from negative to positive, Asda is continuing its campaign to champion inclusivity, working for the second time with a series of bloggers focused on cooking for dietary requirements, helping remove the fears around dietary requirements and ensuring an enjoyable, discomfort-free Christmas for hosts and guests alike.

Bridget Benelam, Nutrition Scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation, said: “Food preferences and requirements cover a wide range of different conditions, different symptoms and many kinds of foods and ingredients that can cause issues, so it’s not surprising people can find this confusing.

“Eating together, especially during special occasions is a really important part of our relationship with food and so it’s a real shame if people with a food intolerance feel excluded from this. It’s important that people have clear information about food allergies and intolerances so that they know what to look for when they are buying and preparing food for themselves and others”

Based on research findings and ahead of the Christmas season kicking off, Asda has introduced a second guide to inclusive eating, cutting through the confusion and easing the anxieties around dietary requirements with practical advice, kitchen hacks, allergen-free recipes and tips on how to cater to dietary requirements with ease at any Christmas gathering.

Jo Johnson, Senior Manager Asda Own Brand Innovation, comments: “We first launched our inclusivity campaign in August this year, and the response we received was overwhelmingly positive. Christmas is such an important time for enjoying good food and drink, so we want to help the nation see food preferences and requirements as an opportunity, not a burden. Armed with the right help and advice, all households this season can become an inclusive environment, and we really hope Asda’s second inclusivity guide will continue the positive conversation we’ve helped start.

“Working with our customers and parents, we will continue championing inclusivity to drive a real step change in the way we look at dietary requirements. This year, we’ve introduced our biggest Inclusive Christmas range to-date, expanding the range by over a quarter, ensuring there is something for everyone to enjoy, and making things even easier for hosts when preparing meals for those requiring something a little different.”

Asda’s Christmas Inclusivity Guide can be downloaded from the Good Living website here.

* Asda research, August 2018, 2000 respondents
** Word Vegan Day Research, November 2018
*** Asda research, November 2018, 2000 respondents