Food security is broadly defined as the measure of food availability and individuals' ability to access it (United Nations Committee on World Food Security, 2022). For many older vegans and vegetarians, food security is a major concern, whether or not they are living in a care setting.
It might be difficult for many to access or afford healthy food that meets their dietary beliefs. Food security also concerns a person's knowledge of nutrition – knowing how to eat a balanced diet – something which is particularly important for older vegans and vegetarians.
As part of an academic study from V for Life and Bournemouth University, a group of 40 vegans and vegetarians, aged over 60 and living in the UK, were asked their thoughts on food security.
"I'm 17 miles from the supermarket which I usually go…which is actually very fast because the roads are empty, but I can't just pop down to Marks and Spencer’s. So, I have to plan quite carefully and especially in terms of getting the veg and fruit fresh enough to keep me going for a few days before I go back into town or have another delivery.”
“My challenge mainly is that we have a small co-op in the village where I live, but they sell very limited amounts of vegan food, so I can get bread, soya milk, almond milk, vegan margarine and things but not much else.”
"Since lockdown, I've got used to doing practically everything online. Regretably, I still have, I go to several of the specialist vegan online supermarkets, one or two are beginning to get more products in but I find it very difficult to find one that has all the products I want, and then when you consider, you know, sometimes postage or having to get over a certain amount"
“Eating out is a nightmare. One of the classic vegetarian dishes on offer up here is macaroni cheese and chips and I have actually seen that with garlic bread, so triple carbs, and all beige.”
We will be launching our research work on Food Insecurity in 2024. If you have experiences that you'd like to share as part of this project, please get in touch with us at email@example.com
Our work with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Vegetarianism gives us a route to share these findings with decisionmakers. In December 2020, the APPG met to explore the issue of food security for vegans and vegetarians, and sent recommendations for action to government ministers.
'Ageing as a Vegetarian and Vegan in the UK: Challenges and Barriers in Addressing their Dietary Preferences' is V for Life's research collaboration with Bournemouth University (pending publication).