Better awareness is needed to protect philosophical or religious beliefs when providing food to people in care settings.
An all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on vegetarianism and veganism has published a report, which highlights cases where individual diets have been misunderstood or even ignored.
Vegetarian for Life, an advocacy charity for older vegans and vegetarians receiving care and one of the organisations behind the report, wants to work with care providers to make sure standards are maintained.
The inquiry, which was launched in October 2019, heard evidence of some care homes ‘systematically disguising poor treatment’ of residents. One care home chose to stop recording a vegetarian resident’s food and drink intake, making it more difficult for his wife or any other outside visitor to keep track of what he was eating.
In a separate case, a daughter was told her vegetarian dad, who had dementia, had eaten a ham sandwich for lunch.
‘Evidence came in from those personally affected, their families, and loved ones. In some cases, evidence came directly from care workers,’ the report, Respect for religious and philosophical beliefs while eating in care, said.
‘These harrowing stories, shared anonymously as evidence, have been used to shape the recommendations of this inquiry, and offer a deep understanding of, and insight into, the daily challenges faced by older vegetarians and vegans in care settings.’
The document made four recommendations, including a strengthening of care regulations and related guidance; introducing mandatory training; and dietary guides in kitchens.
‘The report sets out some shocking and deeply upsetting failures in the care of vulnerable people who have not had their rights protected,’ said Christina Rees MP chair of the APPG on vegetarianism and veganism.
‘This is clearly unacceptable and those of us who express our philosophical beliefs through our choice of diet will rightly feel saddened. However, everyone should be appalled by the failing to protect basic dignity that the report highlights.’