We’ve all been there. You plan a dinner with friends only to find out that one is lactose-intolerant, another can’t eat gluten, and one just saw a video on animal cruelty and swore off meat for life. But what exactly are these diets? If you find yourself wondering what is on or off-limits, this guide is here to help. Whether you’re picking a restaurant or hosting a dinner party, your friends will appreciate you taking the time to cater to their needs and preferences. Oh, and you won’t accidentally poison them.

A gluten-free diet excludes any products that contain the protein gluten. Gluten is found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye, bulgur and tritcale (a cross between rye and wheat). Remember: most beers and some vodkas also contain gluten!

Gluten-Free Grains, Flours, and Starches: rice products, farro, quinoa, potatoes, corn products, millet, tapioca, nut flours, buckwheat flour, soy flour.
Gluten-Free Alcohols: hard cider, potato vodka, rum, tequila. For  an extensive list of alcohol brands that are gluten-free, click here!

Some people choose to follow a dairy-free diet because they are allergic to the dairy proteins themselves. Others do so because they are lactose-intolerant, which means they lack the enzyme (lactase) that digests milk sugar, called lactose. While the presence of dairy in some products, like milk and cheese, is obvious, check labels carefully for other hidden sources such as curds, whey, and casein.

Dairy Product/Milk Replacements: soy products, rice products, coconut products, nut milk, dairy-free spreads.


Photo courtesy of Emily Magruder

Vegetarians do not eat red meat, poultry, seafood, or any other animal. Pescatarians follow the same diet as vegetarians but eat seafood.

Meat Alternatives: beans, tofu, tempeh, seitan, lentils, vegetables.

A vegan diet consists of only plant-derived foods. Vegans don’t use or consume any animals or animal products including land or sea animals, milk, eggs, or honey.

Some Common Vegan Foods: flax seeds, nuts, fruits, vegetables, soy products, rice products, coconut products, vegetable spreads, OREOS (and some other tasty junk foods you wouldn’t expect)


Photo Courtesy of Emily Magruder

Raw Food
People who follow a raw food diet aim to eat mostly raw fruits, vegetables, and grains. The idea behind this diet is to avoid heating foods because doing so is said to destroy nutrients and natural enzymes.

Raw Food Ideas: salads with fruits and vegetables, soaked grains and beans, raw dairy products

The Paleolithic, or “caveman,” diet is designed to emulate the diet of those who lived during the Paleolithic era. This leaves out dairy products, grains, legumes, potatoes, processed foods, salt, coffee, alcohol, and refined sugar

Popular Paleo Foods: fruits, vegetables, eggs, lean meats, seafood, nuts and seeds, healthy oils


Check out these diet-friendly recipe ideas: