Catering Guide for Older Vegans and Vegetarians

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A Vegetarian for Life guide to catering for older vegetarians and vegans. Includes recipes and handy meal planner. With an introduction by vegetarian cook and writer, Rose Elliot. Please consider making a donation to Vegetarian for Life


  • A practical guide for care homes, retirement schemes,

    and others catering for older people

    Catering for older vegetarians and vegans


  • CONTENTS3 / Introduction by Rose Elliot

    4 / Older Vegetarians & Vegans

    6 / Catering for Older Vegetarians

    12 / Vegetarian for Life UK List

    15 / Menu Planner

    18 / RecipesTofu ScrambleLentil & Vegetable SoupSweetcorn ChowderNutty Carrot SoupPasta SaladBlackberry, Raspberry & Fennel SaladCurly Kale & Potato CakeBean Potato CakesMushroom StroganoffCountry Garden Cottage PieMushroom Pate en CrouteAlmond & Vegetable KormaCheese & Parsnip RoastHerby Sunflower PuddingTofu LoafVegan Shepherds PieSpaghetti with Roast Vegetables & LentilsEasy Nut RoastVegan Banana, Apricot & Walnut MuffinsBanana Yoghurt

    30 / Appendix Health & Nutrition

    31 / Acknowledgments

    32 / Useful Contacts


  • Vegetarian for Life originated out of theVegetarian Housing Association, which, untilrecently, operated retirement communities forolder vegetarians and vegans. In VHA homesthe residents lived independent lives in self-contained flats, but they came together for theirdaily main meal.

    Changes in society particularly with olderpeople being encouraged to stay in their ownhomes for longer meant that the VHAconcept became unviable. So, withconsiderable regret, VHA decided that itsremaining homes had to be closed.

    Nevertheless, the trustees of VHA weredetermined that the associations assets wouldbe put to good use for the benefit of oldervegetarians and vegans throughout the UK.And so Vegetarian for Life was born.

    Over the years VHA had realised the need foran advocacy charity to work in the interests ofolder vegetarians and vegans. Problems wereobserved when some residents moved fromVHA into care, and were highlighted by themany individuals and families who contactedVHA for advice.

    The difficulty of finding a care home which caterssatisfactorily for vegetarians or vegans seems tobe a widespread problem. Several times VHAwas told of life-long veggies, in the final years oftheir lives and no longer able to look after theirown interests, having meat forced upon them bydisinterested care staff.

    But, it neednt be like this. Its not difficult tooffer good vegetarian food and its greenand healthy! Treating older vegetarians andvegans ethically needs to be a natural objectiveof a good Diversity policy. This guide aims tomake it easier for those who would like toachieve this objective.

    Serving older vegetarians and vegans overseveral decades has given VHA considerablepractical experience, and this experience is builtinto the guide. Please read it; use it practically;and seriously consider joining the VfLUK Listof establishments which welcome oldervegetarians.

    Committed vegetarians have chosen to showkindness to other beings please be kind tothem in their later years. Thank you.


    Vegetarian for Life / 3

    INTRODUCTION I am thrilled to be thepatron of Vegetarian forLife, because the charityswork is so important to thevegetarian and vegancommunity. We may be aminority in society, butthere are lots of us, andwe are proud to bedifferent.

    Rose Elliot, the UKs leading

    vegetarian cook and writer, has led

    the way in revolutionising vegetarian

    cooking and has played a key role in

    transforming the image, taste and

    popularity of vegetarian food.

  • A survey in 2007 by the FoodStandards Agency showed thatpeople who are completely vegetarianmake up around 2% of thepopulation which is about 1.5million and a further 7% are partly

    vegetarian, making around 5.5million in total.

    Furthermore, Food Industry researchshows that 45% of the population canbe classified as meat-reducers. So,providers of support to older peoplewill definitely encounter service userswho are interested in the vegetarianoption.

    Those catering for older people willbe familiar with trying to serve mealsreflecting preferences, choice, andindividual needs. The Commission forSocial Care Inspections 2006 BulletinHighlight of the Day? was very usefulin highlighting the general issues. Butit only touched tangentially onvegetarianism.

    This guide aims to give care homesand others catering for older peopleuseful guidance to help them respondto the specific needs of vegetariansand vegans.

    There is a growing recognition of theimportance of nutrition in caresettings. In November 2006 theGovernment launched its Dignity inCare campaign and this states:

    High quality health and social careservices should be delivered in aperson-centered way that respectsthe dignity of the individual receiving


    OLDER VEGETARIANS & VEGANSThis guide provides information and advice for thoseproviding meals for older people who are vegetarians and vegans.

    It is particularly aimed at:

    Care homes

    Retirement villages and similarschemes with on-site catering

    Supported accommodation,such as very sheltered housingfor frail older people

    Older vegetarians and theirrelatives and friends

    But it may also be useful for:

    Day support and lunch clubs

    Home support e.g. domiciliarycare and meals on wheels

    The Commission for Social CareInspection

    Councils who commissionsocial care services for olderpeople

    Hospitals and hospices (althoughVfL plans to publish a guide forhospitals in the future)

  • them. Unfortunately, older people arenot always treated with the respectthey deserve.

    Being vegetarian can mean receiving amonotonous and unbalanced diet ofomelettes and macaroni cheese. Useof this guide should prevent thathappening. Vegetarian for Life iscommitted to ensuring that oldervegetarians and vegans receive anutritionally balanced and enjoyablediet of their choice.

    This publication is aimed primarily atresidential settings, but most of theguidance is transferable to settingswhere older people receive just onemeal a day, such as lunch clubs.

    Why does anyone becomevegetarian or vegan?The main reasons why someonechooses to be vegetarian or veganare:

    Animal welfare The environment Health Religious, spiritual and moral beliefs

    Intensive farming methods can bevery cruel; there is no doubt that avegetarian diet is kinder to theenvironment; and theres mountingevidence that vegetarians arehealthier than meat-eaters, thereforemaking less call on the health service.Any principle that is central to apersons belief-system should berespected. Vegetarianism isparticularly important in the Hindu,Buddhist, Rastafarian and Jain faiths.Also, considerable numbers ofQuakers are vegetarian.

    Older vegetarians and vegans havechosen their lifestyle for goodreasons. They decided to live a lifethat is kinder: kinder to animals,kinder to the planet and kinder tothemselves.

    If you are interested in finding out more,including the research backgroundsupporting the vegetarian choice,please contact either The VegetarianSociety or The Vegan Society, who willbe very pleased to help you. Contactinformation is given at the end of theguide.

    Vegetarian for Life / 5

    If youre in charge of catering, and despite yourbest intentions, these words are likely to cause an

    immediate response: one that is quite possiblynegative!

    But, dont despair. With a little thought and planning,vegetarians and vegans need not create a lot of extra work. This guidemakes it easier to make meals an enjoyable experience for yourvegetarian or vegan diners. Perhaps youll get a few tips to help incatering for your non-vegetarians too?

    Oh, by the way,the new arrivalsa vegetarian...

  • OK so this is what vegetarians andvegans dont eat but it leavesplenty of choice.

    Variety in food really is the spiceof life. Thats true for all of us,including vegetarians. When it comesto catering for older veggies the samesensible considerations apply aswhen catering for older meat-eaters:

    Acceptance that our bodies, tastesand appetite change as we growolder

    Following Care Home Regulations Communication Presentation Balance and planning

    This guide expands on thesesubjects, with specifics relevant toolder vegetarians and vegans.

    The ageing bodyOur bodies change as we age.

    AppetiteOlder people tend to be less activeand have smaller appetites. There isoften a gradual decline in smell andtaste. But these senses trigger thebody for food so hunger isntexperienced so acutely. This makesgood presentation really important.

    Teeth Many older people have dentures ormissing teeth, so please establish theareas of difficulty for individuals, suchas al dente vegetables or seeds.

    DigestionVegetarians often have more robustdigestive systems than meat-eaters.But some foods become moredifficult to digest as we get older e.g.radish, raw cabbage, beans andcucumber skin. Go easy with theknown culprits. But talk to those youcater for and be aware of theirindividual needs.



    MeatFishShellfishProducts derived from deadanimals (e.g. gelatine, suet,aspic)


    Everything on the vegetarian listor anything else from an animalsource, including:Milk, cheese and other dairyproductsEggsHoney

    Vegetarians do not eat fish! People who eat fish but notmeat make a reasonable choice, but they are notvegetarians even if thats how they describe themselves.


  • Fibre Constipation tends to be a problemfor older people generally, but, on theplus side, veggies tend to suffer lessthan meat-eaters. A balancedvegetarian diet contains plenty offibre. Wholemeal bread, brown riceand pasta are better health-wise, butif an older veggie prefers the whitevariety, you dont have to worry toomuch about fibre intake. Alongside ahigh fibre diet it is important to ensurea plentiful intake of fluid.

    RegulationCare homes in England must registerwith the Commission for Social CareInspection and are required to followthe Care Homes Regulations 2001.

    The regulations and NationalMinimum Standards include:

    Taking into account service userswishes and feelings

    Ensuring the dignity of serviceuserswith due regard to religiouspersuasion and cultural background

    Recording the food provided insufficient detail to enable aninspector to determine whether thediet is satisfactory

    Recording details of any specialdiets prepared for individuals

    Providing adequate quantities ofsuitable, wholesome, nutritious foodwhich is varied and properly prepared

    Catering for religious or culturaldietary needs as agreed atadmission and recorded in the careplan

    Offering a choice of meals, with aregularly changed menu which is

    given, read or explained to serviceusers

    Ensuring that mealtimes areunhurried

    The aim of this guide is to build onthese standards, which are equallyapplicable throughout the UK, withparticular reference to oldervegetarians and vegans.

    CommunicationGood communication makeseveryones life easier.

    A vegetarian does not automaticallylike all vegetables and fruit.

    Its a simple matter of respect todiscuss individual preferences

    Food intolerances and medicalrestrictions should be recorded inthe individuals care plan

    A blackboard or printed menugiving notice of meals is important so that potential problems can besorted out in advance

    If service users are no longer ableto communicate clearly, it isimportant to take advice fromrelatives or friends and to try torespect principles held in healthiertimes without over-riding theservice-users right of choice.

    PresentationIt is essential that meals lookappetising to counter reducedappetites.

    PortionsTo someone with a small appetite ahuge pile of food can be off-putting so dont overfill plates.

    Vegetarian for Life / 7

  • Colour Macaroni cheese, potato andcauliflower may taste delicious, but,on the same plate, its a visualdisaster. A mix of colour tells thebody to be hungry. Use parsley,tomatoes, strawberries, blackberries,or mint leaves to add colour. And notall vegetables are green.

    Surroundings Fresh flowers, pretty table mats, fruiton the side are little touches that canmake a difference to a dining room.

    Relaxation Why not serve coffee and teas afterthe meal, and encourage your dinersto linger and socialise over mints andchocolates (checking they arevegetarian or vegan)?

    Highlight of the day? In the best-run homes mealtimes canbe the highlight of the day withrelatively easy attention to detail.

    Balance & PlanningIt is important for all of us includingvegetarians or vegans to be given awell-balanced diet. Following theadvice in this guide will help, andgenuine variety should achieve areasonable balance of protein,carbohydrate, fat and fibre, with goodvitamin and mineral content.

    It is important that older people eatenough to cover their energy andnutritional requirements. So, in viewof reduced appetite, a nutrient-densediet is the caterers challenge.Fortunately this is one which isprobably easier to rise to for oldervegetarians than for meat-eaters.

    Its a good idea to have a written planof menus for, say, the week ahead.For really good variety you can workto a four week plan repeated overthree months. (Not longer, as youshould make seasonal changes.)

    Its worth remembering that dairy andsoya products provide completeprotein, whereas nuts, seeds andpulses dont. These need to becombined with grains to complete thenecessary amino acid profiles. Thiscan be done over a period of 24hours, however, so porridge or toastin the morning and chickpeas orlentils in the evening count as makingup complete protein.

    In a typical weeks menu try toensure that you include a goodmixture of:

    Root vegetablesGreen vegetablesSalads & other vegetablesFruit fresh & driedBreadRice & pasta

    Pulses (beans, lentils etc)Nuts & SeedsMeat substitutes (soya protein, tofu & Quorn*)Cheese*, milk* & other dairyproducts*Eggs**not for vegans


  • Tips for busy cooks Keep it simple, and avoid dishes

    that have to be served instantly. Some vegetarian dishes require

    soaking of legumes etc. Forgetthem. (But remember most beansare readily available in cans.)

    A vegetarian recipe may be enjoyedby your meat-eaters. Variety isgood for everybody.

    There are many ready-madevegetarian meals available. But a lotof these do include eggs or dairy,so are not suitable for vegans.

    Vegan ready meals are alsoavailable they just require morecareful sourcing.

    If serving meat pie and veg, whynot put a vegetarian pie in the ovenat the same time (on a separatebaking tray, please). The list ofveggie alternatives is endless, andcan often tie in with your meat-eaters choice, using the same

    accompaniments. Even Sundaylunch can be easy, using vegetariansubstitutes for roast meats.

    Some older vegetarians and veganstry to avoid vegetarian alternativesto meat preferring food that doesnot pretend to be something else.So, again, please communicate.

    Many recipes can be modified toproduce a vegetarian alternativewith little extra work. Substitutemushrooms for ham in quichelorraine; use soya mince or lentils incottage pie; use vegan fats orvegetarian mincemeat.

    Make full use of your freezer. Makelarger quantities and freeze extraportions to save time on anotherday.

    Fresh and seasonalEven when serving a ready-madedish, the vegetable or saladaccompaniment ca...


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