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Vegan or Vegetarian in Care or Hospital

(28 Posts)
JoeVfL Thu 24-Feb-22 10:19:49

Hi all,

I work for a charity called Vegetarian for Life. We support people in care settings to make sure they are able to maintain their ethical beliefs and eat nutritionally.

We are currently looking for cases where people who are vegetarian for vegan in care or hospital who have struggled to get nutritious food in accordance with their beliefs.

If you or someone you know has been in a situation where they could not get the food they wanted, we would really like to hear about it. It’s important that people are respected and treated with dignity when in care.

You can let us know in the thread or email us if you want to let us know about situations like this.

Please follow this link if you need more information about what we are looking for or about our charity in general:

Many thanks

DaisyAnne Thu 24-Feb-22 10:22:24

I'm afraid I worry more about those who are on restricted diets for their health. Why not include all the needs of others?

Hetty58 Thu 24-Feb-22 10:33:34

Good point, DaisyAnne! I'm vegan but I have various allergies too. Wherever I go, I tend to take food with me. I don't think I'd survive for long in a hospital or care setting. Staff, in general, seem to have little awareness and tend to just treat you as a fussy eater.

ShazzaKanazza Thu 24-Feb-22 10:34:00

DaisyAnne you are spot on. When I was in hospital for the day a couple of years ago. I looked at the special menu as I’m coeliac and picked a chickpea gluten free curry. Imagine chickpeas in watery gravy it was awful.
A few weeks ago I took my uncle for a cataract op, I could stay with him all day as he’s vulnerable and had to stay on the unit and couldn’t leave. They could offer me nothing that day to eat. In fact they went into a bit of a spin when I told them. Luckily I took some food with me but had left it in my car so I had to have special permission to leave the unit so I could get my food. This really does need addressing.

welbeck Thu 24-Feb-22 10:35:45

i wouldn't trust some of the food provided in hosps if i was a strict vegetarian, esp things like desserts, fools etc.
these are often said to be vegetarian on the menu request card.
but with commercial catering contracts, items are often changed and no thought is given to these issues.
some fools etc have gelatine.
the catering service don't care or know. they just give out the food. many of the front-line staff on the ground have very little english and do not even understand the issue, even if the patient has noticed that there may be a problem.
nursing staff are too busy.

Peasblossom Thu 24-Feb-22 10:38:36

Honestly I don’t see why the NHS should feed relatives of patients. Having spent years accompanying my husband in hospital, I always provided my own food.

Wouldn’t have thought otherwise.

Hetty58 Thu 24-Feb-22 10:42:36

(I've added my comments to the survey.)

GagaJo Thu 24-Feb-22 10:46:13


Honestly I don’t see why the NHS should feed relatives of patients. Having spent years accompanying my husband in hospital, I always provided my own food.

Wouldn’t have thought otherwise.

I think the original post is referring to food given to patients.

GagaJo Thu 24-Feb-22 10:47:17

My daughter is veggie. She had my GS in Spain. When she told them she was vegetarian, she was given plain boiled rice. No fruit, bread, cheese.

welbeck Thu 24-Feb-22 10:58:50

i guess it was unusual circumstances in that people had to stay confined to the unit all day.
she must have not known that before, else would not have left the food in the car.
in the olden days, it was normal to come and go, buy food from hosp cafe or nearby places, bring it back to share with patient, or nibble while waiting for them.

JoeVfL Thu 24-Feb-22 11:10:08

Thanks for the feedback so far. Thanks DaisyAnne for raising the point about health concerns and nutrition. There are charities out there highlighting concerns for those with allergies and celiac for instance. With people on meat-free diets, its important to make sure they stay healthy and that care providers understand how to make sure they have nourishing food. For us, there is the health concerns, and the issues around dignity. We want to make sure that people have the right to practice their beliefs and they shouldn't lose this right just because they are in care

FarNorth Thu 24-Feb-22 11:12:51

A relative with T2 diabetes has encountered woeful ignorance from nursing staff who were native speakers of English.
Simply absence of knowledge about what is suitable for someone who is using diet to control their diabetes.

The same relative is also vegetarian, btw, but wasn't surprised by lack of knowledge or suitable food in that area.

FarNorth Thu 24-Feb-22 11:16:59

Good point JoeVfL that some people are vegetarian because of their religious beliefs.

Susan56 Thu 24-Feb-22 11:29:58

I am vegetarian and diabetic.The last time I was in hospital although the staff were really good about making sure I ate the only choice seemed to be sandwiches which was fine for a couple of days.Not sure how I would have felt if my stay had been longer!

Also when I was in A and E with both my husband and daughter the staff were really good when I said I was diabetic and again brought me sandwiches rather than me having to go searching for food.

Nannarose Thu 24-Feb-22 11:48:42

Our local care home has won awards for its food, and caters well for vegetarians (honestly not sure about vegans).
However, DH laughed when he saw one of the accolades which said they provided healthy vegetarian food without too much reliance on eggs, cheese & pastry ('oh dear!' he said!)

Granny23 Thu 24-Feb-22 11:55:09

I'd like to broaden the discussion to include other human rights issues which are not respected in Care Homes. My own particular beef is that my DH was not permitted to Vote as someone had registered him as 'lacking capacity'. This for a man who had been a near life long supporter/ donater/ activist for the SNP - indeed was still a member and still donating. He was also banned from flying a small saltire in his room, whilst various Rangers or Celtic supporters were permitted to wear or show their colours.

Bizarrely, he was included each week in a men's prayer group run by the Church of Scotland ( I expect on the basis that he was not a Catholic, so must be protestant!?! (He was neither). He did not object to these sessions because they were lovely people and also provided tea and proper biscuits e.g. his favourite Kit-Kats.

As far as I am aware (though DH was happy to eat anything) this home was assiduous in meeting dietary needs. So religion and football affiliation accepted by not devotion to a cause seen as 'political'

My FIL also spent his last years in a Care setting, where all the gentlemen (but not the ladies) were given a glass of sweet stout every evening. Two questions?? 1) if beneficial for the men why not the Ladies? 2) were they aware that, like many in FIL's generation he had signed the pledge and never touched any alcohol his whole life until then.

25Avalon Thu 24-Feb-22 12:04:24

It’s a struggle to get decent nutritional food in hospital for omnivorous patients yet alone if you are vegetarian or vegan. I don’t understand why you can’t pay for your food whilst in hospital as you would have paid for it at home. If you can’t afford it you would still benefit from the improved service. Once we did away with catering officers and our own hospital kitchens the standards dropped and went down hill. Decent food is part of getting well.

ShazzaKanazza Thu 24-Feb-22 12:22:25

peasblossom just to clarify my point about expecting to be fed when accompanying my uncle for his cataract. I took my own food expecting when he went for his op to be able to go and sit in my car. He was being put to sleep so was sitting on the ward with him from 12 to 7 pm. They asked me what they could get me as I was there seven hours and I said nothing I’ve brought my own. But they said we are sorry you can’t leave. So I had taken my own i never expected anything to be provided and was shocked to be offered. Have to say they couldn’t have been more apologetic. When he goes back for his next eye done I’ll be very prepared.

JoeVfL Thu 24-Feb-22 13:08:57

Granny23, these are really interesting examples. It is such a shame that people can be committed to causes their whole lives and are not supported to maintain those beliefs when they are older. In some cases, people make advanced statements, explaining how they want to live when they are older, but this relies on the care home or hospital reading these wishes and acting on them. One charity that does a lot of work on how people are treated in care beyond diet is Compassion in Care.

Peasblossom Thu 24-Feb-22 13:26:31



Honestly I don’t see why the NHS should feed relatives of patients. Having spent years accompanying my husband in hospital, I always provided my own food.

Wouldn’t have thought otherwise.

I think the original post is referring to food given to patients.

Oh yes, I was referring to Shazzakanazzas post as a relative who wasn’t herself provided with her choice of food and wanted that addressed.

She’s since come back to explain more fully.

ninathenana Thu 24-Feb-22 13:34:46

Susan56 I'm diabetic T2 and eat a very low carb diet. Sandwiches would not be good for me. I don't eat bread

Nannarose Thu 24-Feb-22 13:50:18

Although drifting a bit from the original question, I completely agree that folk in care should be supported in their beliefs and practices. It can be very difficult though for staff, especially when those suffering from dementia appear to change their minds.

oliverharry12 Fri 27-May-22 16:59:57

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Esspee Fri 27-May-22 17:08:37

Spam? Reported.

Callistemon21 Fri 27-May-22 17:10:12

Warning to other posters:

The link is not about dietary food in care homes, it's about civil weddings