Updated: Jan 11
Elderly Veganuary: To brie or not to brie?
Starting in 2014 with just over 5000 participants, the month-long campaign, coined Veganuary, to encourage people to eat plant-based foods for the month of January has now amassed a following of nearly 300,000 people, a number that continues to grow each year
Despite veganism’s growing popularity among young adults, it’s important to remember how this dietary shift away from animal consumption can ensure that those in assisted living residences (ALRs) and nursing homes have access to healthy meals without relying on meat as a primary nutritional source.
What is veganism?
Veganism is a lifestyle and dietary choice that involves abstaining from the use of animal products, including meat, dairy, eggs, and honey. This extends to fashion s well. Vegans tend not void leather, or wool clothing as well as products tested on animals.
Contrary to popular belief, however, this doesn’t mean abstaining from taste! Vegans gain their nutrients from fruits and vegetables instead of meat allowing the discovery of many new ways to cook them.
How does it help those with dementia?
One reason why a vegan diet may be beneficial for individuals with dementia is that it is often rich in nutrients that are important for brain health. Plant-based sources of protein, such as beans, nuts, and seeds, provide the body with essential amino acids that are necessary for brain function. Vegan diets are also often high in antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation and protect against cell damage. Some research suggests that a diet high in antioxidants may be associated with a lower risk of cognitive decline and dementia
Another benefit of a vegan diet is that it is often low in saturated fat, which is a type of fat that can increase the risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions. High levels of cholesterol and saturated fat have been linked to an increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia. By eliminating animal products, which are often high in saturated fat, a vegan diet can help reduce the risk of these conditions.
A vegan diet may also be easier for individuals with dementia to digest and absorb. Plant-based foods are often easier to digest than animal products, which can be beneficial for individuals with digestion issues. In addition, plant-based sources of protein, such as beans and lentils, are often rich in fibre, which can help keep the digestive system healthy.
Another reason why a vegan diet may be beneficial for individuals with dementia is that it can be easier to follow. Plant-based foods are often simpler to prepare and can be easier for individuals with cognitive impairments to recognize and identify. Vegan diets may also be easier for caregivers to plan and prepare, as they do not require as much attention to food safety and handling as animal products.
Simple steps to make the transition
There are a few simple steps that can help make the transition to Veganuary easier that we’ve included below:
Start by incorporating more plant-based foods into your diet gradually. This can help give your body time to adjust and make the transition easier
Choose a variety of plant-based protein sources. These can include beans, lentils, tofu, nuts, and seeds
Don't be afraid to try new foods. Vegan diets can be very diverse and there are many plant-based foods that you may not have tried before. Experiment with new ingredients and flavours to find foods that you enjoy
Consider taking a vegan cooking class or finding online resources to help you learn new recipes and cooking techniques
Make sure to get enough nutrients. Vegan diets can be very healthy, but it's important to ensure that you are getting all the nutrients that your body needs. This may include supplements such as vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids. A registered dietitian can help you ensure that you are getting all the nutrients you need!
By following these tips, you can make Veganuary fun and accessible for all! Remember to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian before making any changes to diet, especially if you have a medical condition such as dementia. With a little planning and preparation, following a vegan diet can be a healthy and enjoyable way to improve your overall health and well-being!
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