Veganism is becoming increasingly popular among seniors. Vegans eat solely plant-based foods. They steer clear from meat, dairy, eggs, honey, and any other foods derived from animals. There are many reasons seniors consider switching to this diet. Sometimes, it’s for better health, while animal rights drive others. Often, it’s both. Regardless of why seniors consider the change, the most important question is “Are vegan diets healthy for older adults?”
Benefits of Switching to a Vegan Diet
- Boost the immune system: The ideal vegan diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts. Because most of these foods are nutrient-dense, they can benefit the immune system.
- Manage chronic health conditions: Vegans tend to have healthier blood pressure, fewer cases of diabetes, and longer lives than those who follow the standard American diet. It may be beneficial for seniors with chronic health conditions.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Those who consume a vegan diet typically have a lower body mass index. As we age, maintaining a healthy weight may become increasingly difficult. This may make veganism a good option for seniors struggling with weight.
Switching to a Vegan Diet
As you age, it may become increasingly difficult to meet nutrition requirements. Veganism can make it a bit more challenging. Here are a few tips for seniors switching to a plant-based diet:
- Take supplements: Some nutrients, like vitamin B12, are only found in meat. Seniors will need to take a supplement to meet their recommended daily intake.
- Eat foods rich in calcium: Calcium is another nutrient seniors should be mindful of when going vegan. Many diets rely on dairy products for their daily calcium dose. Fortunately, there are plenty of vegetables, including spinach, kale, and broccoli, that are abundant in calcium.
- Choose high-protein foods: Many seniors are concerned they won’t get enough protein if they cut meat from their diet. However, many plant-based foods are high in protein. Soybeans, tofu, and lentils are excellent options.
Cooking for One
Seniors who are cooking only for themselves may find it difficult and expensive to prepare meals with fresh ingredients. They may not see the point in cooking for a single person. This causes many seniors to choose foods with a longer shelf life as opposed to fresh foods. However, there are resources to make cooking for one easier.
Single meal planning sites provide single-serving recipes. One Dish Kitchen and the Fresh 20 for One have healthy recipes for one person along with shopping lists.
Veganism Isn’t for Everyone
Like most diets, veganism has pros and cons. Some may do well without animal products while others may struggle. Before attempting any new diet, it’s important to consult a doctor. They can help you determine if a vegan diet is right for you and your health.
Heritage Senior Communities
Heritage Senior Communities understands the importance of eating a diet rich in nutrients. Our communities make it easy for residents to eat healthily. Our Heritage Hospitality policy offers fresh and diverse dining choices to all our residents. Contact us today to learn more about how we help seniors stay healthy.