VfL works across the UK to ensure that care establishments can cater well and ethically for older vegans. Preparing to move into care can already be a stressful experience. The VfL UK List, found on VfL's website, enables visitors to search care providers that have pledged to cater well and ethically for older veg*ns.
For people still living independently, several channels of support are available through VfL, such as The Vegan and Vegetarian Fund. Grants of up to £3,000 may be awarded to those meeting the criteria, for one-off purchases that will assist older vegans in maintaining their independence. Recent grants have provided mobility scooters, laptops and washing machines that have dramatically improved the quality of life for recipients.
VfL Chief Executive, Amanda Woodvine, said: "The cost-of-living crisis is causing rocketing household bills and putting a strain on much-needed support services. So it's more important than ever that we seek help when necessary.
For vegans receiving care, perhaps living with dementia or cognitive decline, relying on others for a healthy diet in line with our ethical beliefs might be an extra concern. VfL can help. We're only a click or phone call away."
One grant beneficiary had been medically dismissed from his supermarket job after an accident at work left him needing a knee replacement and ligament repairs.
Unable to leave home without assistance, he turned increasingly to his laptop as a source of knowledge, community, and entertainment. Being online gave him the freedom to make new friends on social media, as well as delve into topics of learning that he otherwise wouldn't have had access to. When his old laptop could no longer do the job, he applied for grant funding to purchase a new one.
When the application was approved and the laptop delivered, he was thankful for the renewed sense of hope the grant had given him.
"I have been struggling with disability for the past 3 years, and my condition is deteriorating. My main lifeline is my laptop. This act of kindness means I can get my link back to the rest of the world, and for that I am eternally grateful. Thank you so much!"
Another channel of support is VfL's increasingly popular veggie pen- and phone- pal scheme, aiming to combat loneliness and connect people with shared beliefs. The list of participants is always growing, and lasting friendships have been established. Sometimes, just chatting to a someone like-minded can be a powerfully reassuring thing.
The scheme works in a straightforward way. Those who wish to take part choose their contact method - phone or letter, or both - which are added to the scheme database and circulated to other participants. In return, each participant receives a list of others in the scheme and can pick and choose who they get in touch with.
Alison from Scotland has been signed up since 2018 and is delighted with how the scheme has worked out for her: "It's very easy to use and it's exactly the kind of thing I was looking for. It's not that easy to get pen pals these days, which is a shame. There's nothing like getting a letter in the post to brighten your day."
Another user said: "Thank you for continuing to run this scheme. I had a lovely card from a lady in Devon who loves animals and Animal Rights. I think your lists help us older people when we're not online. It's a wonderful list and what a blessing to know my age group has other like-minded people. Thank you for all the hard work you put in. It's a great idea."
VfL strives to be the first port of call for information, support and guidance for older vegans, vegetarians, their families and a broad range of care caterers.
As the only charity in the world with this expertise, VfL can offer a wealth of knowledge, from tasty recipes and nutritional information, through to advice on how to stand up for your rights as an older vegan.