A BIG Thanks goes to Jess Walter for submitting this excellent post!
Perhaps you’ve been thinking about going vegan for years but still haven’t taken the plunge. Maybe you think you’ve waited too long, and worry that it’s too late for you to make the switch. After all, only about 4% of American adults over the age of 55 are vegan or vegetarian — does this small number mean that it’s not a good idea? In a word, no. Older adults have plenty to gain from a plant-based diet. Here’s what you should know about going vegan as a senior.
Eating Made Simple
Many older adults end up adjusting their diets because eating becomes more difficult as we get older. A plant-based diet might be easier to chew than a meat-based one. Though not all vegan foods are healthy, if you maintain a good vegan diet that’s loaded with fruits and veggies, you’ll be sure to get plenty of nutrients while aiding your digestion. Vegan meals are also generally easier to prepare and waste less food, which is why it’s ideal for seniors who’d rather not spend extended amounts of time preparing elaborate meals.
The Perks Of Going Meatless
Aging is inevitable, our bodies will change and decline as we get older. Over time, our immune system will stop functioning properly, our joints will start aching, and our senses will begin to dull. But our diet can hold off the aging process. Research has found that vegans have the most antioxidants in their bodies compared to lacto-ovo vegetarians, pescatarians, semi-vegetarians, and non-vegetarians. Antioxidants protect cells from damage, potentially holding off the signs of aging for longer.
No matter what your diet, it’s important that you consume a varied range of foods. If you ensure that you’re consuming the nutrients your body needs, you can lower the risk of developing many conditions common to seniors. For example, vegans and vegetarians are less likely to have diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, high blood pressure, and obesity.
Your Changing Dietary Needs
As we age, our bodies need less calories to function, which means we can easily get our daily calorie requirements from a non-meat diet. However, just because your caloric requirements have decreased doesn’t mean you need less nutrients. Senior vegans should ensure that they’re getting enough vitamins and minerals to keep their bodies healthy.
Thankfully, there are plenty of plant-based sources for the nutrients our bodies need. For example, we can get calcium from soy milk and dark green leafy vegetables. Nuts and legumes are excellent sources of protein. And as you get older, it’s probably a good idea to supplement your diet with doctor-recommended multivitamins suitable for your needs — whether you’re vegan or not.
Do Your Research
Just because you’re older doesn’t mean you can’t go vegan. Switching to a plant-based diet shouldn’t sacrifice your health; in fact, if done right, it should make you even healthier. If you’re seriously considering going vegan, read up on how you can make sure that you’re giving your body all the nutrients it needs.
Shifting to a new diet can be difficult, but you don’t have to rush into things. Start slowly by adding more fruits and vegetables into your diet and lessening your meat intake. And, of course, make sure to set an appointment with your doctor and a nutritionist so you can get advice on how you can safely transition to the vegan lifestyle.