Donald Trump, who doesn’t drink alcohol, recently launched a super-premium vodka. As The New York Times asks in its coverage of the launch (registration required),

Why would a notorious teetotaler—a man who once publicly yearned for ‘the lawyers that went after the tobacco companies’ to ‘go after the alcohol companies’—affix his name to a … vodka? ‘If I don’t do it,’ Mr. Trump said, ‘someone else will.’

OK, so say someone else launches another high-end vodka brand instead of The Donald—who cares?! As David Kiley notes in his BusinessWeek blog, Trump doesn’t REEEally need the cash from vodka royalties, and “throwing around his name brand haphazardly” like this will probably do a lot more damage to his reputation in the long run. Plus, let me add that while vodka is the most popular alcohol in the U.S. (and probably the easiest to produce), it certainly doesn’t scream “luxe” to me. Why not do a Trump cognac or single-malt Trumpscotch instead?

This news also got me thinking about how food and drink producers with dietary restrictions—whether moral or health-related—balance their personal needs with their culinary duties. Granted, Trump has pretty much nothing to do with the actual crafting of “his” vodka (though he admits to having tasted it); but I remember talking with a Bay Area café owner a few years ago who was vegan but still served meat and dairy to meet customer demand. And people like Sam from Top Chef, the “hot diabetic,” often have to prepare and taste food that doesn’t fly on their diet. (The fact that Sam’s low-sugar dessert smoothie in this week’s episode was totally off-balance, while his low-calorie meatballs were, in judge Tom Colicchio’s estimation, “leaden orbs of ground meat on a stick,” shows that perhaps even he is more comfortable cooking without restrictions.)

On a personal note, I may soon get tested for celiac disease; the treatment if I have it would be giving up all products containing wheat, barley, oats, and rye, which would mean never again being able to try or write about most pizza, breads, baked goods, and pastas (better get to Babbo while I still can).

Do any readers have experiences working in the food world while on a special diet? How did you manage it?

See more articles