Memory Care and Inclusivity Pledge

Imagine that you have been vegetarian or vegan for a number of years or even decades. Sadly, you are no longer able to live independently and have to receive extra care, so move into a care home.

Your family and yourself make clear your food preferences. But what happens 6 months or a year down the line if you no longer remember that you were vegan or vegetarian? How would you feel if you were then offered and served meat, or if you unknowingly started to choose meat dishes?

Vegetarian for Life is proud to announce the launch of a Memory Care Pledge that will be taken by care homes up and down the UK.

This is to help ensure that vegetarians or vegans who have capacity issues, or cognitive losses, will be offered a choice of meals, drinks and snacks that uphold their ethical beliefs.

At Vegetarian for Life it is incredibly important to us that residents can live the rest of their lives the way that they intended.

So, we are asking care homes to make a Memory Care Pledge.

The Five Fundamentals

The Five Fundamentals

Contact us to find out more and sign up.

Many care homes have already signed up, including the HC-One chain.

Chris Bonner, Executive Chef and Nutrition and Hydration Lead, played a lead role in HC-One’s decision to sign up to the care pledge.

He told us:

“As an individual, I think that the ethos behind the Memory Care Pledge is brilliant: I’ve been in the care sector for eleven years, and at first I expected the stereotype – cabbage soup every day, and twice on Sundays. But, actually, residents have very complex needs. They’re a mixed bag of people, coming from very different backgrounds, levels of wealth, and so on, and I need to find what works for everybody. I realised early on that I wanted to make a difference and help make others aware, and the Memory Care Pledge fits in perfectly with that. It’s not just about what nutrition people need, but about what they want to eat.”

The number of older vegetarians and particularly vegans is continuing to grow. Vegetarian for Life research found that, in the five years to 2019, care residents following a vegan diet increased by a remarkable 167 per cent. Chris explains what this means for HC-One and other care providers:

“We’re spreading the message to our staff that it’s coming: veganism is coming. It’s becoming a part of life, and a lot of people are taking it on as a way of life. We’re there to provide a service, not just stay in our own comfort zones. Good food keeps residents healthy, and giving people food they want to eat is going to prevent weight loss and all the problems that come with that." 

"If we’re to cater to our residents and to make ourselves attractive to this growing segment of the market, we’re going to have to inform and educate ourselves, and the Memory Care Pledge and the support from Vegetarian for Life is going to continue to play a huge role in that.”

Long-term vegan Richard Horsfield, who is 79, is also backing the pledge.

He has been vegan since his 20s and has been a keen activist throughout his life.

Richard is fit and well, but said that if and when he has to move into a home he would want the reassurance of ensuring he would only be fed plant-based meals.

He said:

I’m trying to postpone going into a care home with lots of swimming but there’s only so much you can do when you were born in 1939.

“I know it’s likely to be my future so being reminded of my choices if I have memory issues is paramount to me.

“I couldn’t bear the idea now of being given meat.

“So the Memory Care Pledge is a fantastic idea that shows that being vegetarian and vegan is being taken seriously.

“Being vegan may not be a religion but we are as passionate about our pathway through life. We need to keep being given plant-based meals and be reminded of that as we grow older.”

Amanda Woodvine, Chief Executive of Vegetarian for Life said:

The numbers of care homes that have agreed to cater well and ethically for older vegetarians and vegans is constantly rising. We are delighted that over 1,250 care homes are on the VfL UK List. This constant growth shows how much of a priority meat-free catering is becoming in the care sector.

“But we want to ensure older vegetarians are catered well for their whole lives, especially if capacity issues or cognitive losses become prevalent. We are encouraging care homes to pledge that they will also help uphold residents’ choices for vegetarian or vegan living.

“An example of best practice could be that if a vegan resident were to accidentally choose a meat-based or non-vegan option, catering staff would do their very best to ensure that a plant-based alternative similar to the chosen dish would be offered.

“This would give family members peace of mind knowing everything was being done to help look after their loved one in the way that they wanted.

“But we can’t do this alone; we need as many care homes to sign up as possible. It’s free, and really simple to do.

“Let’s ensure that meal times are inclusive, enjoyable and in line with all residents’ beliefs and wishes for their whole lives.”