The number of UK vegans and vegetarians continues to soar, with a staggering 25% of all Brits predicted to be vegetarian by 2025 and already an estimated 14% of vegetarian and vegans in Great Britain are aged 65 or older.
That's why Vegetarian for Life (VfL), a charity that supports older vegans and vegetarians will be launching a free self-advocacy pack to mark National Older Vegans and Vegetarians Day this October.
The pack will help to explain the laws protecting those with special dietary needs; sources of support if your rights aren't being recognised; and some simple yet critical actions you can take today to protect your future dignity and rights. These include making a statement of your wishes and care preferences, which future carers should honour.
Amanda Woodvine, CEO of VfL, explains why the time is right for the upcoming self-advocacy pack launch: "Many people assume that veganism and vegetarianism are new concepts - something for younger generations - but that simply isn't true.
“VfL exists solely to support older vegans and vegetarians, and increasing numbers find that maintaining their dietary and lifestyle beliefs is not always a straightforward matter. Although philosophical beliefs, such as veganism, are protected under multiple laws in the UK, older vegans and vegetarians often find themselves in situations that go against their basic human rights when it comes to food.
"In later life, many of us rely on others for food - whether that is ready-made meals for home delivery, or provisions in care settings. Conditions such as dementia can be an additional barrier to maintaining control over our diets and our identity and beliefs.”
VfL hears time and time again from older vegans and vegetarians and their families who have been given food that goes against their fundamental dietary beliefs, particularly in social care settings.
"This can be through lack of understanding of what being vegan or vegetarian really means; lack of training of catering teams and care staff; or simply confusion over how to interpret the Mental Capacity Act. So, that's why we're launching our self-advocacy pack - a one-stop shop containing resources, guidance and tips to ensure that you get the food that you are legally, and ethically, entitled to."