Veganism is a type of vegetarian diet that eschews all animal products, for ethical and health reasons.
For the elderly, sacrificing a meat-based diet has its pros and cons. On the one hand, it allows the avoidance of common health risks such as indiscriminate fat or sodium intake. But, on the other hand, it may also lead to other medical conditions such as protein and iron deficiency. Furthermore, some vegan dishes might cause allergies and other symptoms common to the elderly. Therefore, it is advised that before people dive headlong into an extended vegan diet, they should first consult a doctor, health professional or a nutritionist.
Spaghetti and meatballs – textured vegetable protein (TVP), made with a by-product when soybean oil is extracted from soybeans, is available in a lot of local supermarkets. It has the same texture as ground pork or beef, and goes well with any heavy-sauce dish that requires ground meat. Use whole-wheat pasta noodles to prevent excessive carb intake. TVP can be readily sauteed with diced vegetables in olive oil. Make sure that the meatballs are bite sized to help the elderly enjoy it without the risk of choking. Known brands to buy are Now Foods TVP and Bob’s Red.
Hamburgers – Tofu is a very flexible ingredient and is often featured in a lot of vegetarian recipes. Crumbled firm tofu can be mixed with onions, finely chopped veggies and other spices, then combined with some whole-wheat flour and water batter, or egg replacers such as mashed bananas, silken tofu or flax seeds for binding. The burger patties made from all the ingredients combined can either be grilled or pan-fried in a skillet using light olive oil or canola oil. Serve them in sandwich buns layered with fresh finely-shredded lettuce leaves and paper thin-sliced tomatoes.
Grilled Sausages – Boca Italian Meatless sausages can be found in the freezer section of the supermarket, usually in packs of four. Pan-grill them in canola oil and serve in tomato sauce and fresh shredded basil leaves.
Chicken Nuggets – A mixture of ground TVP, mashed chickpeas (garbanzo), wheat flour and various finely-chopped herbs, dipped in soymilk and rolled in crumbled, unsweetened cornflakes, then fried to a golden brown in canola or peanut oil, these crunchy wonders taste just like its popular meat counterpart! Prepare the nuggets in manageable bite-sized pieces, and go easy on the spices if your elderly loved one is sensitive to spicy foods.
Hotdog Sandwiches – Loma Linda’s wheat-based sausage Little Links or Cedar Lakes’ Deli-Franks make for a great substitute to one of the most recognizable American food items. Pan-fry them in a little olive oil or grill them, then serve with pickle relish, mustard and onions. Yum! The sandwiches can be served in bite-sized or halved pieces, for a much more comfortable eating experience.
Classic Chicken Soup – This is a staple during cold weather seasons, and a great way to feed a sick loved one, especially when they are having difficulty chewing or swallowing food. Gardein’s wheat-gluten based Chick-N-Fillet are an amazing substitute to chicken meat, and can be combined with various vegetables for a hearty, good old fashioned-style ‘chicken’ soup. You can also use TVP and it’ll do the same trick. Just make sure that hard vegetables such as carrots and celery are cooked well and soft enough for people with chewing difficulties.
Tacos – Grilled tofu strips or wheat gluten (seitan) sauteed in vegetarian barbecue sauce go well with various shredded vegetables in this all-time favourite Mexican dish. Soft taco shells can be served with it, instead of the crispy ones for easier consumption.
Lasagna – Firm tofu, pureed with sauteed onions, garlic, imitation cream cheese and spinach make for a great filling for this usually ground-beef based classic. Just make sure to use whole wheat lasagna noodles so you don’t have to pre-cook. Add chopped veggie sausages to the filling and make for a delicious, healthy meal.
BLT Sandwiches – Cravings for bacon can be satisfied with the vegan version of the BLT, made with Yves Meatless Canadian Bacon, generous amounts of shredded lettuce and thin-cut tomatoes. One suggested way of serving it is to serve it in small quarter cut pieces, with soft white bread.
Buffalo Wings – Gardein’s Classic Style Buffalo Wings, made from wheat gluten and a delicious combination of herbs and spices, make for an almost unbelievable alternative to this party dish. It is a great protein source without the trans-fat. This is best served in bite-sized pieces as well.
As a person gets older, attention should be given to the fact that a sufficient amount of B12 vitamins and nutrients is needed to maintain a healthy life. It is known that B12 nutrients are challenging to find in non-animal products, which is why the elderly are advised to take required amounts via fortified food supplements. Having addressed that, it is no surprise that vegetarian people above the age of 50 are known to be very healthy, as they have lower instances of heart disease and diabetes.
The point is that being healthy does not mean sending your favourite meat-based entrees to the trash. Thanks to nutrition experts and vegetarian cuisine chefs, you can enjoy these vegan alternatives to meat dishes that a lot of us love, without putting your health at risk. The complete list of ingredients can be found online with a simple Google search, and are available on many vegetarian websites.
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Marc Webster is an avid guest blogger who specializes in health and well-being topics. He also works as a Parts and Components Specialist at All Time Medical Wheelchairs, Walkers and Rollators.