A special free-from menu has been launched by Star Pubs and Bars to assist licensees with meeting demand for such dishes.

The new menu includes sixteen dishes which are meat-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, and suitable for vegans, across starter, main and dessert courses.

Head of food for Star pubs, Mark Teed, said that putting together a free-from menu can be "daunting" for publicans.

Mark said: "We wanted to take the hard work out of it and offer them an easy-to-implement menu with a broad appeal as well as the reassurance of knowing the ingredients are correct and the dishes properly labelled."

Dishes were selected to accommodate current food trends, and include Mexican, Thai, and Italian options. The range has dishes such as loaded chilli nachos, Thai red vegetable curry, as well as gluten free butternut squash, brie, beetroot and truffle infused oil tart, and sticky toffee pudding.

Mark continues: "We've chosen dishes that appeal to all and complement a pub's core menu. So whilst we've got a sorbet, which is always popular on 'free-from' menus, we've also got a delicious chocolate and coconut torte, which is suitable for vegans as well as being dairy and gluten-free."

In order to make incorporating free-from as straightforward as possible, and to minimise waste, Star worked with Brakes to select pre-prepared dishes with additional sides – such as salads – to make full meals.

Mark explains: "Even if licensees don't order the dishes through Brakes, the menu is a good example of what a balanced 'free-from' range looks like."

Mark said that publicans should understand that free-from was "here to stay" and independent operators need to "do the same or lose out."

He said: "More than 3.5 million people in the UK now identify as vegan, whilst over seven million have switched to a vegetarian diet. It's the customers with dietary requirements who determine where a group eats out."