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Care home residents go vegan and discover it is far more than mung beans and lentils

Residents at a Barchester care home ditched meat and dairy for the day and instead ate only plant-based food, embracing the growing trend for veganism.

Over the past decade, ethics and the desire for a healthier diet have caused the number of British vegans to rise by 360% to around half a million, according to figures from The Vegan Society.

Advocates of vegan diets claim it boosts energy, prevents digestive problems such as constipation and helps with weight loss. Veganism also means you get a good amount of fibre and antioxidants in your body, reducing the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

With veganism becoming one of the UK’s fastest growing lifestyle movements, Hannah Mulholland, activities coordinator at Harper Fields care home in Coventry, decided to introduce residents to the plant-based diet by holding a vegan festival.

“The residents are always asking me what I can eat as I am vegan, especially on celebratory occasions such as Christmas. I wanted to show them how diverse and interesting vegan food can be.

“I also wanted to show that there are care homes that do cater for alternative diets and take people’s beliefs into consideration, as I was horrified to hear recently about some care homes not respecting people’s and vegetarian diets when they have dementia and feeding them meat.

“I think it is important that we try new and exciting things and chance people’s perceptions. I try to ensure the residents’ lives are exciting and adventurous and I hope that one day someone will do the same for me when I reach their age.”

Ms Mulholland used to be a chef so she helped advise the chef at the care home on what food to cook as she says: “There are alternatives for everything”.

Residents and staff tucked into vegan hot dogs and onions, curried beans, mulled hot apple juice, toffee apples, jacket potatoes and hot chocolate with soya milk.

“I also made my signature pecan pie with soya pouring cream and everything served was 100 per cent plant based with no meat, fish or dairy to be seen,” reveals Ms Mulholland, who recently won the Activities Coordinator of the Year award at the Barchester Care Awards 2016.

The food was eaten in a large marquee decorated with hay bales, scarecrows and pumpkins with folk music playing in the background.

“We wanted to show that we take all of our residents and future residents’ dietary requirements seriously. There are over 70,000 people over the age of 65 that are vegan in the UK, which means that sooner or later other care homes will have to start taking note and being more innovative, offering their residents a diverse range of vegan and vegetarian food, as well as traditional meat-based options,” she said.

“There are so many people who are vegan like myself that are worried about what will happen to our beliefs if we need care in the future. “I hope this initiative will show them that some people in care are doing their best to promote a healthy vegan lifestyle.”

Credit: Care Home

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