Staggering figures released this National Vegetarian Week show that residents following a vegan diet in UK residential care homes have risen by 167 per cent since 2014.
A representative sample of 1,000 care homes across the UK was interviewed earlier this year, in research commissioned by Vegetarian for Life (VfL), a charity dedicated to supporting older vegans and vegetarians living in care homes as well as independently.
There are currently more than 11,000 care homes for older people in the UK. The total number of vegetarians and vegans combined is now estimated to be over 7,000, across both nursing and residential care. There are one or more vegetarians or vegans living in one in every five UK care homes.
The rapid rise in vegan residents in particular has sparked VfL to urge care facilities to be prepared if a vegan resident moves into the care facility.
Amanda Woodvine, Chief Executive at VfL, said there is now more need than ever to ensure there is adequate vegan meal options available to those in care homes.
Ms Woodvine said: “It’s great that more people are choosing a vegan lifestyle, but it just goes to show that we have a lot of work to do to ensure that there are adequate meal and snack options at care homes nationwide.
“It can be daunting for catering staff at care homes to plan meals if only one resident is plant-based. But VfL has a vast amount of resources available to make this as easy as possible; there are recipes on our website for mealtimes as well as special occasions such as birthdays and barbecues. We also offer fully-funded live cooking demonstrations from our team of roving chefs.”
With special diets including allergies, intolerances, and autoimmune diseases becoming increasingly relevant to the care sector, the charity has also recently launched a free Dietary Diversity in the Care Sector guide to help equip care caterers with information, tips and recipes to cater for a raft of dietary requirements.
Vegetarian for Life has a dedicated UK List of more than 1,200 cares homes that have pledged to cater well and ethically for older vegans or vegetarians in their care.