Preventing malnutrition in later life

Catering for vegetarians in later life

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A guest blog from Vegetarian for Life on the increasing number of older vegetarians and vegans, and why care caterers should make the most of this. 

People who are vegetarian or vegan are found in at least one in every four British care homes.

As a result, it’s really important for care homes and caters to know their needs and how they should be cared for.

Dietary requirements

Knowing what vegetarians and vegans do and don’t eat is an essential starting point.

Most vegetarians do not eat meat or fish, but will eat eggs and dairy products.

Vegans choose not to eat or use any animal products at all. So they do not eat meat or fish, and also avoid all animal products such as honey, eggs and dairy.

Food suitable for vegetarians
Image courtesy of Vegetarian for Life

This might sound a little restrictive but a wide range of meals can be made vegan or vegetarian, from hearty full-English style breakfasts, through to quiches, curries, pizzas, and cakes.

Reasons for making this choice

There are many reasons why someone could be vegetarian or vegan. It could be to do with animal welfare, the environment, or religious, spiritual and moral beliefs.

For instance, vegetarianism is particularly important in the Hindu, Buddhist, Rastafarian and Jain faiths, and a considerable number of Quakers are vegetarian too.

In addition, older adults’ uptake of meat-free meals is rising. They have cut back their meat consumption at a faster rate than the rest of the British population. This trend reflects practical concerns, such as perceived health benefits, and saving money.

Why should care caterers make the most of this?

Providing a few veggie options on the menu can be better for everyone and may save money in the process.

Firstly, vegetarian dishes should not be seen as ‘special’ food. Meat-eaters in care settings nearly always eat the two or more vegetable accompaniments on their plate and some days could prefer the option of a full vegetarian meal.

What’s more, because our ability to chew and digest certain foods can deteriorate with age, vegetarian and vegan foods can really come into their own, being easier to swallow and digest.

Don’t forget that vegetarian cooking can easily be cheaper. Indeed, soya mince and pulses tend to cost much less than even the cheapest cuts of meat.

So taking the time and care to provide a plant-based diet for vegetarians and vegans could prove to have wide appeal, with other residents benefiting too.

Vegetarian for Life

Vegetarian for Life is a charity dedicated to improve the quality of life of the UK’s older vegetarians and vegans. Offering a range of training and support, we have also produced a free catering guide and a Code of Good Practice to help your catering efforts.

Please contact us for further details or any queries. Happy cooking!

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