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Dietary Diversity in the Care Sector

Published: 3rd June 2019

Food is central to our identity and I would hope that stays with us for however long we live,” says Senior Rabbi as new guide is launched to help care homes cater for a variety of diets.

To be sure that the beliefs of a person, whether Jewish, Muslim, or Sikh, are respected should they enter care, charity Vegetarian for Life (VfL) has released a comprehensive and easy-to-follow manual and training programme.

Dietary Diversity in the Care Sector provides care caterers with information needed for service users to eat in the way that is central to their identity for the rest of their lives.

The guide is packed full of recipes and information on how a person’s religion or philosophical beliefs can affect their food choices, as well as what is legally required from care caterers in these situations.

Says Amanda Woodvine, Chief Executive of VfL, who worked on the guide: “A staggering 70 per cent of people in care homes have dementia or severe memory problems. Sadly, all too often VfL hears reports of someone with vegetarian philosophical beliefs, and cognitive losses, who is being served meat now that they are in care”.

With allergies, intolerances, and autoimmune diseases becoming increasingly relevant to the care sector, they are also given extensive coverage in the guide. Most people diagnosed with coeliac disease are over 50 years of age.

Jonathan Wittenberg, Senior Rabbi, Masorti Judaism UK, said: "Food is so central to our identity. I know this as a Jew and as a Rabbi and I am aware that is the same for my Muslim colleagues, and Hindu colleagues, and people of different religions.

"And then within that I am a passionate vegetarian with vegan leanings, and for the last year I have also been diabetic so I am conscious of the importance of what we eat.

"It's at the core of identity. Now, were it the case I was at some point living with dementia and had to move out of the family and community setting that has supported me and protected me and be dependent on the care of a home, I would deeply want all of those aspects of my identity to be respected. I'm sure nobody would think of giving me loads and loads of sugar, because medically it would be dangerous.

“But I feel at least as passionate, or more passionate about being Kosher and about being vegetarian. Those things are the rhythm and meaning of my life.

“It's protected under the Human Rights Act to support people in their diet and their choices. But it's also a part of honouring someone's dignity and personhood. I would hope that personhood stays with us for however long we live.”

Sophie Murray, deputy chair of the National Association of Care Caterers, has also praised the guide.

Ms Murray, who is also head of nutrition at Sunrise Senior Living, said: “The guide will be a great resource for those catering for those in care who are vegetarian, vegan or require specific dietary requirements."

Visit to download a copy of the guide, or order from the charity on 0161 257 0887.

Download a copy here: Dietary Diversity in the Care Sector

An example recipe from the guide includes:

Asparagus, potato & broccoli quiche taken from the guide.

Serves 6

Can be gluten-free

*Can be made gluten-free by using Jus-Rol gluten-free pastry and gluten-free vegetable stock such as Marigold vegetable bouillon.

· 1 packet shortcrust vegan pastry (gluten), e.g. Jus-Rol TM (*or gluten-free vegan pastry)

· 120g chickpea flour (this cannot be substituted for any other kind of flour)

· 600ml hot vegetable stock (celery, gluten) (may contain soya, milk)

· 3 heaped tbsp nutritional yeast

· 1 tsp dried oregano

· ½ tsp dried basil

· ½ teaspoon turmeric

· ½ tsp black salt (Kala Namak). Optional, but will give the mixture a taste of egg

· 5 jersey royal potatoes, steamed or boiled until just cooked, and sliced into small pieces

· 4 broccoli florets, steamed or boiled until cooked, and cut into quarters

· 10 spears asparagus, uncooked

· 1 large tomato, sliced

· Vegan cheese for topping, e.g. Sheese Mature Cheddar Style (oats) (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

2. Grease and line a 20cm/8-inch quiche pan.

3. Roll out pastry to 0.5cm thickness and line quiche pan.

4. Blind bake for 15 minutes. Remove and set aside for later.

5. In a bowl combine the chickpea flour and half the stock. Whisk together well and set aside.

6. In a wide-bottomed saucepan, add the remaining stock, nutritional yeast, spices and black salt then bring to the boil. The mixture should begin to thicken quite quickly. When boiling, slowly add the chickpea mixture and stir continuously for 2–3 minutes.

7. Remove from the heat. Add vegetables apart from asparagus to the mixture and combine well.

8. Pour into the prepared pastry case. Top with asparagus spears and sliced tomato in a spiked flower shape. Add optional vegan cheese at this point.

9. Bake in the oven for 30–40 minutes or until cooked. If cooking too quickly place foil on top until cooked through completely.

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