Veggie pledge success

Posted by Guest on 10/05/20 in Articles

Back in October 2019, Steve Dale, group catering manager at the Moreton Centre, East Sussex,  took on a challenge from the director at his care home to ‘practise what he preached’ – and go vegetarian for 6 months.

6 months later and it’s a big well done to Steve – who has not only successfully completed his veggie pledge, but also said that he will be sticking to his new vegetarian diet.

Says Steve: “Yes, I'm still veggie. I don’t feel the need to go back; I have never felt better. I've gone from pushing 16 stone to under 14 now.”

Steve is a big advocate for the health benefits of following a plant-based diet, and has increased his daily vegetarian offerings at the Moreton Centre. He’s also encouraging other care homes within St. Matthews Health Care to do the same.

Steve said that getting food supplies has been more challenging recently because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We asked Steve for his tips on how to ensure that there can still be lots of vegetarian offerings on the menu.

Steve said: “Obviously supplies have been hit and miss, so menu planning was next to impossible. We have always been flexible, so my response was to establish what produce we could get and plan (at one point) day-to-day. Our greengrocer was an absolute star; we never at any point suffered from that point of view

"We significantly increased our veggie offering, simply because of supply.

"My advice was and is, don’t panic, sit down, establish what you can get, plan your menu, but be ready to change it at short notice.

"We did lots of vegetable dishes, stews, lasagne, Bolognese, nut roasts, mushroom wellington. As you know, the options are endless, and the fact we have been doing this for well over a year now, meant we were not floundering around. We operate an A la Carte menu; yes we still offer meat as an option, but the veggie options are normally chosen by the majority of residents.

"One of the current favourites is a cabbage dish, just steamed cabbage with butter, cream and grated cheese.

"So, while it was a awkward for a bit, we were never short of ideas and our residents never went short – in fact we increased the choices.

"And to be honest I loved the challenge. I work better under pressure, and if the team see the boss sorting problems and leading from the front, it gives them confidence”

If you’re inspired by Steve, why not use this National Vegetarian Week (11–17 May), to experiment, and add some new and exciting vegetarian dishes to your menu?

With over 300,000 older vegetarians and vegans over the age of 65 in the UK, and 65–79 year olds leading the way in reducing their meat consumption, there’s no better time to start improving your veg*n menu options.

Even if you don’t have any vegetarian or vegan residents currently, you may well find that most residents are open to trying more vegetarian options. So why not try introducing a weekly meat-free day in your care establishment? You could also increase your range of daily vegetarian options so that residents have more choice.

Vegetarian for Life has lots of tasty, well-balanced recipes on its website, and you’ll also find menu planning help.

These tasty recipes are some of our favourites. Which are yours?

Asparagus, Potato & Broccoli Quiche 

Smokey Mediterranean Shepherd’s Pie 

Rose Elliot’s Chunky Oven-Baked Ratatouille 


Mushroom, Nut & Cranberry Wellington


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