Improving hospital catering with our campaign Hospital Catering for All
Vegan hospital food can be enjoyed by vegans and non-vegans alike, but it’s not always available on the main menu. If ward staff have limited experience of caring for someone with vegan needs, they may not be aware of what foods and drinks are suitable and available. These are just some of the challenges that a vegan patient might face during a hospital stay.
Through our advocacy work, we help individuals who struggle to obtain adequate vegan meals in hospital.
We also wish to tackle the structural causes of this problem, which involves addressing myths and misunderstandings, as well as the practicalities of offering vegan options on hospital menus. Vegans should experience the same quality of nutritional care as non-vegans, and we are working towards this aim.
A stay in hospital can be a difficult time, and make you feel vulnerable. Unfortunately, many vegans have to overcome the added challenge of getting the right food. These are the experiences of some of our members:
“I felt like I was being a nuisance to the busy staff having to ask for my margarine, soya milk and yoghurts to be retrieved from the ward refrigerator each mealtime. Sometimes, I had to wait quite a long time for this. It also frustrated me that it needed explanation all the time and that the vast majority of people there seemed to think I was a bit of a freak.” Jenny
“One hospital really understood what vegan meals were. Finding that they understood my needs and could cater for me made the hospital stay less stressful. In contrast, during a stay at another hospital, the lack of vegan food made my stay there less relaxing...I was dependent of my wife to arrange food for me. For patients without family support things must be much worse.” Andrew
“I would like there to be a time that vegans only have to have a concern about having a medical procedure rather than having to worry about being catered for.” Marie
“I was left lying on a hospital bed trying to work out for myself what I could eat when I didn't even know what ingredients the hospital had in their kitchen. Apart from already feeling physically ill, the lack of care for my dietary requirements made me feel awful emotionally and socially. It made me feel like an outsider and so this increased sense of loneliness added to my existing distress and definitely slowed my recovery.” Samantha
Although things are slowly improving, often vegan patients are not able to receive their meals as quickly and as easily as other patients. We are working to improve standards of care for vegans by supporting patients, health professionals and caterers through our Hospital Catering for All campaign.
How can I help?
Big or small, donations are vital for our work. With your help, we can promote this issue to more health professionals and caterers. To donate, just text VGN44 followed by your donation sum (e.g. £10) to 70070 now. You can donate in other ways here. Thank you.