National Vegetarian Week, 10–16 May 2021
Staggering figures show that residents following a vegan diet in UK residential care homes have risen by 167 per cent since 2014.
But this National Vegetarian Week is a chance to reflect on how well prepared your care facility would be for an influx of vegan or vegetarian residents.
There are currently more than 11,000 care homes for older people in the UK – between them catering for over 7,000 vegans and vegetarians. Almost 1 in 6 of these homes are now committed to veggie catering excellence, via membership of charity Vegetarian for Life’s UK List.
Amanda Woodvine, Chief Executive of Vegetarian for Life, cautions: “By not demonstrating that they are veggie-friendly, many care establishments are missing out on new, potential residents. But becoming a Vegetarian for Life UK List member is a great way to evidence this. Plus you’ll be joining some of the UK’s leading care homes and food suppliers, committed to providing the best possible catering for your vegan and vegetarian residents.
“Once signed up, you will be kept regularly updated with expert support and news. Both free and premium membership options are available – and many of Vegetarian for Life’s core services are offered completely free of charge.”
Some of the charity’s most inspiring members have shared their exclusive stories and tips.
Nick Dutton (pictured left), Operations Manager at Primrose Bank Care Home and Deputy Chair of the National Association of Care Catering, comments:”Perception has definitely changed when it comes to nutrition. People are changing, and there are more and more vegetarians, vegans and those with dietary needs such as coeliacs, which means the care industry needs organisations like Vegetarian for Life. Care homes in the past typically haven’t been associated with great food but that is also changing. We need care homes to stand up, be more organised and change with the times and we want to be part of the narrative that care homes can provide amazing food.
“We joined the Vegetarian for Life UK List in 2018, because we noticed a lot more vegetarians and vegans coming into our care home. We’ve also taken the Vegetarian for Life Memory Care Pledge, to help people maintain their ethical beliefs, especially around vegetarianism and veganism as they get older, even if they suffer any memory issues.
“We’ve created a vegetarian champion from one of our vegetarian members of staff, who will help keep the conversation going around the care home, on the benefits and beliefs of a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.
“We’ve also pledged to keep reviewing our menus, especially around our vegan and vegetarian options to keep them fresh and exciting.
“As a Vegetarian for Life UK List member, we know that the support is there. Not only that, but we’ve had the opportunity to enter the Vegetarian for Life Awards for Excellence in Vegetarian Care Catering. In 2020, our chef Gary McGurk won ‘Most Innovative Veggie Dish’ for his pan-seared watermelon.
“We regularly share content online, but being a member of the UK List has really helped us gain more publicity in the local area. Our social media posts around our membership have the most ‘shares’ and ‘likes’ out of all our content.”