It can be a difficult world for any vegetarian or vegan, especially if not in central London, but it can only get more challenging with age. Currently, there are no fully vegetarian care homes in the UK and a serious neglect for vegetarians exists within care homes.
At first, this might not seem like such a big deal. If there is a vegetarian option, surely they will be OK? But in most cases, the focus is on the meals that include meat, and the vegetarian options are nothing more than an after-thought. The problem becomes more alarming when we consider that elderly vegetarians who get admitted into care homes may not have access to the right nutrients as a result of this neglect. At this point in their lives, a good diet is as important than ever, if not more so.
Numerous cases of people enjoying youthful and joyous lives long into old age as a result of a vegetarian/ vegan diet have emerged over the years. It may in fact be the consumption of animal products that directly and indirectly cause such steep declines in health for much of the older generation. With that in mind – shouldn’t we reward vegetarians and vegans who have made it into old age? Not treat them like an inconvenience. The charity Vegetarian For Life is aligned with this vision.
A charity supporting older vegetarians
Starting out providing sheltered housing and meals for older vegetarians in the 1960s, they evolved into a charity that aims to improve the standard of vegetarian and vegan catering in care homes. With famous vegetarian chef, Rose Elliot, as one of their patrons they work in many ways:
Firstly by promoting the UK list, a directory of care facilities and food suppliers that follow VFL’s best practice guide. The list is an established listing of veggie-friendly care homes and other services that cater for older people. This directory is free to access and should serve as an invaluable resource for those with older relatives who are vegetarian.
As well as this, they offer training for caterers, a variety of free publications and an abundance of simple vegetarian recipes and menu planners to assist all those who are interested.
They have a grant scheme for older vegetarians who need support. Their first major achievement with this was providing funding for a stair lift that enabled an elderly vegetarian lady to move out of care and back into her own home to live independently once more. Since then, they have awarded six further grants for assistance with relocation, a bath aid, vegetarian/vegan cookery courses for older people in Wales, a mobility scooter, a cooker and for fitting a downstairs shower room.
Many of us may have holistic care of older relatives on our minds. If any of the older members of your family are vegetarian or vegan, VFL could prove to be extremely useful if you’ll need to be considering moving them into a care home.
What you can do..
Membership is free, so please do sign up to become a member of Vegetarian for Life and help to promote their work. Spread the word to your friends and family; maybe you know other people that would like to become members of this charity. VFL are open for donations and assure us that the money goes directly to the improvement of their work and services. Consider making a monthly subscription to them or setting one up as a mindful gift for an older relative. It is also easy to give to this charity just by changing your search engine. Charities like this are doing great work and for all of us who also share their cruelty-free approach, it is important that we show some support for what they are doing as one day it could be any one of us in need of support.