V for Life position statement on vegetarianism and veganism
Vegetarian, or Vegan, for Life – what’s in a name?
From 1847, both of these groups used the word ‘vegetarian’ to describe their diet – with or without appendages, such as ‘non-dairy vegetarians’.
Eventually, the term vegan was coined. First used by Donald Watson in 1944, it was made up of the first three and last two letters of ‘vegetarian’. The word could be said to reflect a journey – one which begins in vegetarianism, but with a vegan diet as its ultimate destination.
However, we appreciate that switching to a vegan diet involves a transition period for many people. And we further acknowledge that some will be on a longer journey than others – including those early pioneers of the movement who, in later life, might now need our care.
Our research suggests that in 2019 there were only 7,000 vegetarians and vegans combined in UK nursing and residential care – meaning that both are very much a minority in a care setting.
After over a decade of often being the sole voice advocating for older vegans and vegetarians, V for Life recognises the difficulties that we so commonly face when we are at our most frail.
Just imagine the cruelty of forgetting our long-held veg*n beliefs, should we be experiencing cognitive issues or loss of capacity – and being at the mercy of others for food and care in our final days.
We want to be inclusive in our support of vegans and vegetarians – and we don’t want to alienate or stigmatise. We don’t ‘expect’ anyone to transition to a vegan diet overnight, or possibly at all when of advanced age, experiencing frailty, or complex health issues.