A charity is urging care caterers to register their dedication to looking after the needs of older vegetarians and vegans.

Vegetarian for Life (VfL) offers free membership to their UK List for care homes who accept their guidelines on vegetarian provision. The List is widely distributed throughout the UK and used by families and carers when choosing care homes for their relatives.

Vegans and vegetarians can sometimes face challenges as they get older – from struggling to prepare their own meals at home, through to moving into care, or even developing dementia. Currently, the support needed for someone to remain vegan or vegetarian isn’t always there.

CEO of VfL, Amanda Woodvine (pictured above left), said: “Joining VfL’s UK List is free and shows that as a care provider you are dedicated to catering for the needs of older vegetarians and vegans. The latest research found that 22% of UK care homes had one or more vegetarian residents. This number will rise in the future as more people become vegetarian or vegan, or simply enjoy eating meat-free meals.

“We offer a lot of help and support to those who decide they want to be on our list. Being on the list makes it much easier for families to find a vegetarian or vegan friendly care home for a loved one.”

Sophie Murray, head of nutrition and hydration at Sunrise Senior Living, signed up to premium membership.

She said: “We are premium members of VfL which means all of our chefs can access the resources, and that’s really useful. It means when we are menu planning for all of our cycles we can get all of the inspiration we need, bearing in mind that with our menu plans the second option is vegetarian, or it’s sometimes the main option. So we need to provide some really great recipes going right the way through, so no repetition or anything boring. So it’s wonderful from a menu planning point of view, and wonderful as a resource point of view.”

Vegetarian for Life also offers the services of its “roving chefs” to help cooks cater better for older vegetarians and vegans in care settings. For more information visit www.vegetarianforlife.org.uk.

Tips for busy cooks

• Keep it simple and avoid dishes that have to be served instantly

• Some older vegetarians and vegans try to avoid vegetarian ‘alternatives’ to meat – preferring food that doesn’t ‘pretend’ to be something else, so clearly communicate what is within the dishes

• Make full use of your freezer. Make larger quantities and freeze extra portions to save time on an other day

• A problem vegetarians often face is the caterer’s tendency to see cheese as the obvious source of protein in a meal Alternatives include nuts, pulses, tofu and Quorn