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Thriving on Plants in Later Life – Generation X’s Show Veganism Is for Long Term

Food & Drink

Charity V for Life has been compiling a fascinating archive telling the stories of veg*ns… Veggie Voices! It will showcase this, initially online, in time for National Older Veg*ns Day (1 October.)

To whet appetites we chat with seven inspirational people who are enjoying their vegan lifestyle – and showing that going vegan is for any age.

All are supporters of V for Life (VfL), the world’s only charity working on behalf of older vegans and vegetarians.

All had been vegetarian for decades and have since moved to a vegan diet.

With each of our super supporters we have further answers and can also arrange for you to chat with them too.

Many thanks – Karin

Thriving on Plants in Later Life – Generation X’s Show Veganism Is for Long Term

Actress and Patron for numerous animal charities Carol Royle started her vegetarian journey in 1973 – and was inspired by her daughter to become vegan 9 years ago.

Carol Royle

“I was at drama school in 1973 and I had just got back home late at night after a rehearsal. My father, also an actor, Derek Royle, was sitting in ‘his’ chair watching the end of ‘I Claudius’… on again now funnily enough. After the programme finished the news came on and there was a news item about ‘beef mountains’; the farmer was shooting calves between the eyes and throwing them onto a huge pile of cows – they were ‘superfluous’.

I turned to my father, a steadfast meat-eater, and said I would never eat meat again.”

Carol feels talking with people who are thinking of going vegan is helpful…

“I would talk to them about what might be stopping them from doing it rather than thinking of it… the benefits to their energy, fewer animal fats in their bodies, the feeling you have through living a ‘kind’ life, and I would also direct them to films that inform and are revelations for those who might not have understood the realities of the factory farm and the abattoir, for every animal who has to experience them.”

Nick James face front 2 4K4D2014-copy_cu4-crop.jpg

Gary Webster

Actor Gary Webster started his veg*n journey the day he met his now wife Wendy Turner Webster.

“It took me a couple of years to go vegetarian and then a few more to go vegan and now I can’t think how I ever ate meat in the first place. My initial reason was my respect for something that Wendy felt so passionately about and then over time I became more informed as to how the farming industry works and that all sentient beings have a right to life not to be slaughtered.”

On going vegan Gary adds:

“Do it. You won’t miss meat and you will know that you have helped the welfare of all animals on this planet by doing so.”

Gary Webster .jpg

Wendy Turner Webster

TV presenter and author Wendy Turner Webster also went vegetarian as a child…

“I was 12 years old and was eating Sunday lunch, which my mum had cooked for the family. It was the usual lamb chops. We had the television on, watching Countryfile, and I saw lambs running around in a field. They looked so sweet and suddenly the penny dropped… I was eating them! I spat out what was in my mouth and never ate meat again. My mum and dad soon followed!”

Wendy adds:

“It’s never too late to make important changes and put a spring in your step! Both my mum and dad noticed a significant easing of joint pains when they cut out meat.”

And her go to recipe:

“A bolognaise with fake mince and lots of garlic. Oh, and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast on top! Lovely with pasta, chips or just a salad.”

Wendy .jpg

Dr Barbara Sharp

Dr Barbara Sharp is a registered nurse and nurse teacher who worked in the NHS, specialising in the care of older people, for 18 years. She then joined the voluntary sector organisation, Alzheimer Scotland, where she held a variety of operational, practice development, policy and research posts in the support of people with dementia and their families for 30 years, until her retirement in November 2020.

During this time, Barbara completed a PhD on stress and dementia, and worked extensively with academic partners to deliver national educational programmes to support Scotland’s Dementia Strategy. On her retirement, she was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution to dementia in Scotland.

Barbara has been vegetarian, now vegan, for 48 years and active in human and animal rights, and green politics throughout her adult life.

She is now the Chair of V for Life.

“I have more energy and motivation to try new things than some of my peers but this could of course be explained by many different things.

My younger non-veggie friends are the ones who tend to comment that I don’t seem to age but that may say more about their own expectations of getting older than anything else – or maybe they’re just being nice!

I retired three years ago and I’m enjoying being part of lots of community projects and still occasionally take on some paid work.”

“I have never regretted becoming vegan and only wish I’d done it sooner but learning is a life long activity and making choices on an informed basis means they are likely to stick. There are always challenges but stepping away from food production systems which you don’t believe in is liberating – and the food is amazing!”

What would you say to the “older person” thinking of going vegetarian/vegan?

“No matter what your age, a move towards plant based meals will benefit your own health and the environment.

“Try to think beyond just replacing the meat on the plate and take advantage of the advice, great recipes and cooking demonstrations online – especially from V for Life because they are especially relevant to our age group – and you’ll soon be cooking and eating a range of exciting meals.”

Victoria Featherstone Pearce

Award winning Victoria Featherstone Pearce is a model, actress and animal rights campaigner. She is also the co founder, director and trustee of the 100% volunteer dog rescue charity K-9 Angels.

“I became a vegetarian age just 6 years old. It all started when my father brought home 2 little ducklings. I was very curious to why we petted our ducks, rabbit and family dog but we ate animals for dinner. I flat out refused to eat meat which was kind of unusual in the 1970s for a young child to adopt a vegetarian diet”.

Have you noticed any differences between you and non veggie friends of the same age?

“I do feel eating a balanced vegan diet will no doubt help with the aging process, slowing it down and helping energy levels too. Plus I feel being kind and knowing I’m not contributing to animal’s suffering and ultimately our planet suffering gives us vegans a healthy twinkle in our eyes and glowing skin.”

What is a typical day of food like for you?

“I usually start with a fruit smoothie with some added protein powder. Lunch varies depending if I’m home or out and about. So at home for quickness I may make tofu stir fry or huge salad with lentils/beans with just about every salad ingredient included and a low fat dressing.”

Anything else you would like to add about your vegetarian/vegan journey or to inspire the readers?!

Just don’t hesitate to go vegan, I urge everyone to try. I promise you going vegan is a decision you’ll never ever regret.

Karin Ridgers

Karin Ridgers look after the PR for the charity…..

When and why did you start your vegetarian/vegan journey?

“I started my veggie journey initially 30 years ago and I felt as though I had woken up. I had no idea why no one had told me about this before – meat was from dead animals and you didn’t need to eat it! It was exciting and interesting and I wanted to speak to everyone who wanted to speak to me about going vegetarian!”

“Try soya or oat milk to replace cow milk, try dairy free butter such as Pure, try vegan meats to replace meat in your recipes – all I have ever heard over the past 30 years is:

“I wish I went vegan sooner!””


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