For those of you thinking of living or even visiting France it can become a shock that dietary needs are not easily taken into consideration.
Naturally some areas are better served than others, but it is better to be forewarned that you could encounter problems.
I am lactose intolerant and gluten intolerant so I have had to look further a field than my local supermarket to find suitable foods. They sell Soya milk and yoghurt but I cannot find any gluten free products.
A chain store, La Vie Saine is nationwide and invaluable to me. They sell Soya cream, gluten free breads, pizza bases, biscuits, cakes, gluten free pasta, rice and oat milk, sugar free cornflakes and even crackers for cheese. The cheese, however, I have to stock up on in England or have visitors bring over it is called Cheesly cheese, Soya based, from Tesco.
Eating out can be more of a problem. I use blé noir, buckwheat, and some crépes are made from buckwheat but mostly anything pastry wise will be wheat.
Of course how intolerant you are to a product makes the situation more serious. If you are likely to go into anaphylactic shock by eating peanuts or eggs then read the menu very carefully and ask the waiter/waitress directly what is in the dish. If a sauce contains something you can’t eat ask them to leave off the sauce or ask for an alternative. Make it plain that eating that product would make you very ill and I am sure they wouldn’t want to have paramedics invading the premises!
Cooking at home is of course easier and there are cook books available to help, I have picked up a few books and downloaded recipes from the internet. My neighbours are intrigued by some of my recipes but I just tell them I am unable to eat certain foods. Together with a high cholesterol level which effectively cuts out red meat and fatty foods I have to do as I am told, as far as reasonably possible.
It is true that being a vegetarian in France can be difficult but shopping around and inspiration from other sources can make life a bit easier and excite your palette. Don’t be frightened of admitting to friends or neighbours that you have food allergies or intolerances if you are invited to dinner after all they would only have your interest at heart and would hate to think they caused you unnecessary distress.
If you are contemplating a move permanently, to a second home or just for a holiday be prepared and you will not regret taking the plunge and remain in good health.
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