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January 18, 2013

Going Vegan: A Lifestyle Choice for Many Older Adults

Dave, a member of Kendal at Home, decided to become a vegan about six years ago following six years of being a vegetarian. “I chose to become a vegetarian for health reasons,” Dave says. “I had read enough to believe that steaks and everything else wasn’'t good for us and even harmed us. After a while I decided to get rid of dairy, too.”

A vegan diet excludes meat, eggs, dairy products and all other animal-derived ingredients.

While Dave says he feels bad about the ways animals are treated by giant farms and slaughter houses, animal rights was not his main emphasis for becoming a vegan. He affirms, “I am eating this way for my health.” All of Dave’s blood tests have been better since becoming a vegan. “Overall I feel a lot better,” he says. “I lost a lot of weight, too.” While Dave was always active, he says he feels better when taking a long hike or participating in other physical activities.

Challenges of Becoming a Vegan

Going to someone else’s house to eat is always difficult, Dave says. “It is frustrating because I don’'t want to impose, and they try to be very nice,” he says. “When I say I will eat all the vegetables, they get upset and want to cook something special, but I don’'t want that.”

It can also be hard for vegans to find a good place to eat out. Dave has found a few local restaurants he would recommend for vegans:

  • My Thai in Chesterland: “It isn’'t all vegan, but you can get good vegan food there,” Dave says.
  • Tree Hugger’s Café in Berea uses organic ingredients for almost every item on the menu.
  • The Flaming Ice Cube in downtown Cleveland is Dave’s favorite!

Remember, most restaurants now will have vegetarian options that can easily be turned into vegan options if you ask.

Overcoming Old Eating Habits

Many people believe you don’'t get enough protein or calcium on a vegan diet, but if you eat the right foods, like green vegetables, you will get all the nutrients you need. “The real challenge is overcoming the eating habits you have had for 65 years,” Dave says. But it gets easier when you see the health benefits, Dave says. “I had to be taught that you can be a vegan and still get along,” he says, mentioning the program at Whole Foods, which helped him learn how to cook vegan meals. Check with your local grocery store to find out what assistance they offer for a vegan lifestyle.

“If you want to be a vegan, understand the tastes you are used to mostly come from the herbs and spices used on the meat,” Dave says. While your meal may not have the same texture, if you use those same herbs and spices, you can have the same taste. “I went to a vegan Thanksgiving once, and when I walked in, it smelled just like a normal Thanksgiving turkey,” Dave remembers. “Half of taste is smell anyway.”

To find out if a vegan lifestyle is right for you, talk to your doctor. To learn more about how Kendal at Home can assist you with your diet, contact us today

Photo credit: harald walker via photopin cc


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