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What kind of meals are served in retirement communities?

My mom prefers to eat vegan because she thinks it will help her avoid dementia and diabetes. She is wanting to move to a senior community mostly for the company of others her own age. Will any community be able to accommodate a vegan diet?
Status: Open    Dec 07, 2015 - 06:39 PM

Senior Living Communities, Senior Health & Nutrition

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Dec 08, 2015 - 12:26 PM

To answer your question simply: yes, it is possible to find a community serving vegan, but it is highly, highly unlikely.

Unless you are in a state like California or New York, you are going to have a much harder time finding vegan offerings. Depending on the level of care, you will likely find some manner of special diets, but they tend toward commonly offering low-sodium and low-sugar options. Assisted Living will be the most flexible, but can be a stretch to provide even vegetarian based on the standard diet requirements.

There has been a boom in vegan, raw and gluten-free preferences, but senior living is generally slow moving so there hasn't been a major shift toward the new diets. In fact, the industry standard is only now becoming restaurant-style. A community like The Fremont provides breakfast 7a - 7pm and lunch and dinner from 11a - 7p with a menu of about 65 items, but we are the "new kid on the block" in many ways, with the standard shifting from scheduled dining with minimal options.

I'm sure this isn't your preferred answer, but don't lose hope that a community in your area might be willing to do what they can to be accommodating. Ultimately, it can't hurt to ask their culinary director.

Dec 10, 2015 - 03:48 PM

The retirement facilities in my area, that I am familiar with, provide a selection of menu choices from which to choose. I would think that if your mother is used to selecting the foods that meet her dietary needs, she would be able to find the foods that she would like.

I would suggest that you phone the different facilities in your mother’s area to see what they have available. Most independent living facilities welcome people who are considering their facilities to join them for a meal. That would give your mother an opportunity to actually see and taste what they have to offer.

Best wishes to your mother in selecting a place where she will be happy.
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