An animation, which highlights how important it is to respect the beliefs of older vegans and vegetarians, has been shortlisted by the Charity Film Awards.
The animation which was created by Vegetarian for Life (VfL) features Len Till, reminiscing about his busy, happy life as a dad eating vegan food. Still a committed vegan and now a grandad, he now has his meals provided for him and is facing a limited range of meals – such as a limp-looking salad.
Mike Ashbridge, director for Vegetarian for Life, said: “We are thrilled that Len has been nominated for this year’s Charity Film Awards. Voting for Len is only possible until the 30 November.
“So please vote now for Len, and encourage family and friends to get behind him, too. With your support we can highlight Len’s plight, and that of the thousands of others like him, in care settings throughout the UK.”
There are currently over 6,500 vegetarians and vegans living in care homes in the UK. Vegetarian for Life was set up back in 2007 by trustees shocked by the story of an elderly woman who had been an animal’s rights campaigner and was vegetarian. When she went into a care home after developing dementia, she was given food containing meat, with staff claiming they felt it was acceptable because she ‘would not know any different’.
The charity recently raised concerns that when care home residents lose their mental capacity and ability to express themselves, some care homes are still failing to respect their beliefs and are feeding them meat.
Amanda Woodvine, director of Vegetarian for Life, which aims to improve the lives of older vegetarians and vegans and prevent this happening within the social care sector, said it was sadly quite a common approach and added: “As well as it being a total lack of respect for the person’s beliefs and way of life, eating meat after years of being vegetarian can really mess with a person’s digestive system as meat is harder for older people to digest, and even more so if they are not used to it.”
Mr Ashbridge added: “Making sure that older people have a nutritious and varied diet is accepted within the care sector as an essential goal. However, this may feel like quite a challenge to a cook if the person is a vegan – the obvious question being what on earth to they eat? Help is now at hand – we have produced a Vegan Rescue Pack which offers simple advice on vegan diets including recipes and a four week menu plan.
“Vegan beliefs should be respected. This is because a person’s decision to be a vegan is likely to reflect deeply held ethical, health or religious convictions.
“For an older person, these convictions will have been at the core of their identity for many years. Seen in this light, it is clear that respecting and supporting an older person’s veganism is incredibly important – it is an essential part of recognising who they are and treating them with dignity.”
VfL has a list of 975 care homes on its website that offer vegetarian food. “These care homes have to make a commitment to abide by certain standards. The list is steadily increasing and we have had some groups join which is good. Organisations on our list are able to take advantage of subsidised catering courses which help develop their vegetarian and vegan cooking skills,” said Mr Ashbridge.
VfL predicts the number of vegetarians and vegans coming into care homes will rise as this way of life became more mainstream and fashionable during the 1960s and 1970s. Also as Britain becomes increasingly diverse with different cultures, we will see more people entering care homes where being vegetarian is a key part of their religion.
If you’d like to vote for the VfL’s animation, please visit www.charityfilmawards.com/videos/vegetarian-for-life. Voting closes 30 November.