This section aims to answer frequently asked questions about the vegetarian and vegan lifestyle, especially for those over 60 years of age.

  1. Are there any care homes in the UK that are fully vegetarian? Any suggestions appreciated.

    There are no fully vegetarian care homes in the UK that we’re aware of, though our 2014 survey found that around a quarter of care homes have vegetarian or vegan residents.

    We have recruited over 850 care homes and retirement homes in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to our UK List.

    These homes follow our Code of Good Practice in providing good vegetarian catering (and vegan, in some cases). We also send them regular recipe ideas.

    You can find your nearest veggie-friendly care home by searching the UK list.

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  2. Can you tell me more about your services for caterers?

    One of our services is operating one-day catering courses in conjunction with the Vegetarian Society and Demuths Cookery Schools.

    The courses include practical demonstrations and the opportunity to taste the foods prepared. They can take place on the premises of a host organisation, anywhere in the UK, or in the Vegetarian Society Cookery School training kitchens in Altrincham, Cheshire, or at Demuths Cookery School in Bath.

    Delegates learn more about vegetarians and vegans, relevant nutrition, and how to adapt recipes easily.

    You can find out more here.

    We also have a free guide, Catering for Older Vegetarians and Vegans, which can be downloaded here, together with a number of other useful publications. These include a nutrition booklet with detailed guidance on protein requirements, where to get essential vitamins and more.

    And finally, if you follow our Code of Good Practice by providing good vegetarian/vegan catering, we can offer free membership of our UK List.

    There are many benefits of being a member, including free marketing for homes and regular new recipes for residents to enjoy.

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  3. How can I access your grants for older vegetarians? Can you tell me who's eligible?

    We administer a charitable fund called The Vegetarian and Vegan Fund.

    To be eligible for a grant you must be:

    • aged 60 or over in most cases
    • in financial need, i.e. with a small regular income and low savings. (We follow the income and savings limits used for eligibility for Council Tax benefit.)

    And, to be eligible for a grant you must also be:

    • a practising vegetarian or vegan

    Grants are normally made to assist ‘independent living’. For example: to provide ramps, grab handles, minor kitchen/bathroom adaptations, stair lifts, a mobility scooter or perhaps respite care (a short stay in a care home for a person being cared for at home, to provide a break for the carer).

    The maximum amount awarded is normally £3,000, but this may vary if the grant would benefit more than one eligible person. Alternatively it may be extended, at the Trustees’ discretion, if there are other extenuating circumstances.

    To apply for a grant, please download the application form. Alternatively call us to request a form to be mailed to you.

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  4. Have you any tips to help stimulate the appetite of an older adult who has lost enthusiasm for eating?

    There is some scientific research to prove that certain ingredients enhance the flavour and enjoyment of food. And you can also use a number of techniques to arouse hunger.

    They include using extracts (e.g. maple, almond or vanilla) to amplify flavour; using strongly flavoured foods and ingredients; using sugar and fat; and experimenting with different shapes, colours, sizes and textures to add interest throughout a meal.

    We’ve summarised these findings in our guide Nutrition for Older Vegetarians and Vegans.

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  5. Can you suggest ways of boosting nutrient intake, particularly 'finger foods' that are rich in nutrients?

    Try the following tips, depending on personal tastes.

    • Adding ground nuts, silken tofu, avocado, bananas, berries and other fruits to smoothies. For example, blended peanut butter, cocoa powder, ripe banana and your dairy/non-dairy milk of choice makes a lovely chocolatey smoothie. Spinach, banana and orange makes a sweet-tasting smoothie with a wonderful green colour.
    • For older adults with a preference for sweet foods, sandwiches containing nut butters with jam and/or bananas, or bananas and tahini make a nutritious snack, especially if made with a grainy or wholemeal bread. Avocado and smoked tofu also makes a nutritious sandwich.
    • Fruit salads can be popular, especially if they consist of a variety of warmed dried fruits, which are softer and easier to eat. They can be topped with a cream of preference – nut, soya or dairy – and sprinkled with ground nuts.

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  6. What are good sources of protein for vegetarians or vegans on a soft or puréed food diet?

    The main sources of protein for vegetarians and vegans are:

    • pulses (peas, all types of beans, tofu and lentils)
    • nuts and seeds, and their butters
    • eggs and dairy products (for vegetarians).

    Mock-meats and grains (if eaten) provide useful amounts of protein, too.

    These foods can be ground, puréed, mashed or grated and used to bulk up other foods. For example, pulses can be added to soups, stews and curries, and then blended. Silken tofu, ground nuts or nut butter can be added to soups and smoothies. Peanut butter works particularly well in chilli, and of course in satay sauce. Smoothies can be frozen into ice lollies to help add interest to the diet.

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  7. How can I get enough protein on a nut- and gluten-free diet?

    The majority of people need 8% of their calories from protein at most, according to leading health bodies such as the World Health Organization (WHO). The good news is that most foods can provide us with this 8%.

    The foods that are exceptions to this include fruits (which contain about 5% of their energy from protein) and many sweets and junk foods. The WHO’s value includes a large safety margin, so most people’s real needs are even lower.

    In practice, if you eat a variety of pulses, any grains and grain-products that can be tolerated, and eggs and dairy products (for vegetarians) – and you are neither gaining nor losing weight – then protein needn’t be a particular concern.

    Aim to eat two or three servings of these foods each day. A serving is around half a cup of cooked pulses.

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Do you have a question you'd like answered?

Use this form or get in touch through your preferred method to ask your question. We may post an answer in this section, or perhaps as a featured blog post if it warrants a longer answer.