A gluten-free diet is a diet that excludes gluten, a protein composite found in wheat and related grains, including barley and rye. Gluten causes health problems in sufferers of celiac disease and some cases of wheat allergy. For those diagnosed with celiac disease, a strict gluten-free diet constitutes the only effective treatment to date. There is ongoing research and debate on non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
In recent years the importance of a gluten free diet has increased, even if not every single person looking for a gluten-free life does so because of allergies or disease.
Peter H.R. Green, MD, Director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University reports that for people with celiac disease, a gluten-free diet is essential. But for others, "unless people are very careful, a gluten-free diet can lack vitamins, minerals, and fiber." Going gluten-free means saying "no" to many common and nutritious foods and in any cases will increase your food expenses.
The good news is for people with celiac disease, more supermarkets and health food stores stock gluten-free products; even restaurants and the tourism sector are addressing the niche.
In Italy for example, there are different initiatives:
But why are we talking about gluten on a sustainability platform? What is the connection between gluten-free and sustainable travel and tourism? The answer lies in inclusivity. For too long, the travel and tourism industry has not catered to the diversity of conditions of its guests, including the disabled, the lactose-intolerant, and the gluten-sensitive.
Unconventional Hotel is a new consultancy service born from the eclectic mind of Concetta D'emma, former Project Co-Founder of the first eco-friendly hotel chain in Italy. Concetta helps hoteliers and the tourism industry to meet the needs of people with special needs: guests who have never really been considered and welcomed in the right way (at least until now). Examples include vegetarians, those with celiac disease, vegans, the lactose intolerant, people in wheelchairs, blind people, and those who require pet-friendly or gay-friendly accommodation. Attending Concetta's public seminar, I realized how much of a challenge a more fulfilling travel experience is for many people. Concetta suggests Panta Rei, a restaurant where different worlds meet.
Panta Rei is not only a pizzeria offering gluten-free flour: the restaurant, located at 201 Via Cusago West Milano, in the countryside of the Po valley and Near Cusago, Trezzano, offers an extensive menu able to please everyone's palate: vegan, vegetarian, fish or meat.
Designed to recover the value of conviviality, Panta Rei will welcome you in a beautiful location with live music: the ideal place for those who want to relax and spend the evening in an intimate atmosphere, without going too far from Milano.
I haven't visited many restaurants where gluten-free food is served, but I can suggest checking out the Celiac Association website to find a safe guide for your country.
[Pictured: Salute Nutraceutica in Como, Italy]