IBS While Traveling: Ireland
Last updated: September 2023
If you told me that it would be easy to avoid dairy in Dublin, Ireland, I wouldn't have believed you.
Although, I do preface this by saying that most of my experiences have been in major cities. When I travel outside of Dublin, I stay in hostels and cook my own food if I can't find places to eat during my pre-travel research.
I arrived in Ireland thinking that I would be unable to eat at restaurants due to my dairy allergy and IBS symptoms. But that is far from the truth. Currently, I am 9 months into my stay in Dublin and I have found that it is one of the best cities for food accommodations that I've experienced.
Ireland with IBS
Luckily, there are tons of hostels in Ireland that have self-catering kitchens. This means that if you supply your own food, you can use the kitchen to feed yourself and store any perishables. As I travel around Ireland, this is one of the main ways I ensure that I eat within my comfort zone and ensure that I do not consume any of my allergies.
If you stay in any accommodation with a "self-catering" kitchen, you will need to supply your own food. Most grocery stores in bigger cities have dairy alternatives and other vegan foods available. My favorite grocery store here would be SuperValu - the location in Dublin City has the best selection that I have seen so far. And if you are in a big city, check out the local Asian market for ingredients like lentils and coconut milk.
Most pubs and restaurants have the same system, which is very helpful. Menus have a key at the bottom of the page and then the restaurant can mark what items have common allergies by listing the numbers next to the name or description of the meal. Back in the U.S., I wasn't used to restaurants doing that, and asking the server to talk to the kitchen sometimes took up some time. But now I can order my food with confidence because I know exactly what will be on my plate (for the most part).
Because we are all human, there is still the possibility of an error occurring if you ask for an ingredient change. But I have found that even when a mistake happens, they take care of it as quickly as possible.
The reason behind the system
Unlike the United States, The Food Safety Authority of Ireland requires that restaurants show the 14 most common food allergies on their menus, which includes but are not limited to milk, nuts (must be named individually by type), soybeans, and sulphur dioxide and sulfites.1
In the end, make sure you research which towns you want to visit and where you want to stay. I know that when I travel, I usually opt for vegan foods primarily as it can remove any confusion or miscommunication. But you will be glad to know that in a country known for its dairy industry, you will find food accommodations in most large cities.
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