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Choose wisely, eat healthily and live longer?

9 August 2011

What exactly do we mean by ‘older' these days? The criterion is no longer simply passing the state pension age of 60 or 65. In fact, our experience shows that most people in later life do not think of themselves as ‘old' in their 60s.

In the twenty-first century some of us may enjoy up to 40 years of retirement, and with careful planning, a little luck and some application, our retirement years can be active, exciting and full. 85 year olds are arguably less physically active than when they were 65, but that doesn't mean that their life has to be any the less full.

An Age Scotland poll earlier this year identified dementia as being older Scots' greatest fear - unfortunately, in our ageing society, an increasing number of people end up suffering from dementia, often Alzheimer's disease.

Studies are underway to try and establish how our chosen lifestyle affects our prospects for an active and enjoyable old age, how what we do, eat, drink etc. can perhaps make our later years more fulfilling, and to determine what we could be doing to try to avoid, or delay, the onset of dementia.

Vegetarian for Life (VfL) is an advocacy and educational charity working on behalf of older vegetarians and vegans throughout the UK and it believes that the typical vegetarian or vegan is more likely to enjoy good health, less likely to be obese and liable to live longer than average person - so is this a path we should perhaps be following?

Since its inception in 2007, VfL has produced a number of publications and the latest of these, Nutrition for Older Vegetarians and Vegans was launched to coincide with National Vegetarian Week 2011 at Hendersons Vegetarian Restaurant , Edinburgh, back in May.

The booklet is eight pages long and has detailed guidance on protein requirements, where to get essential vitamins and other useful information. It emerged from the charity's popular catering courses for care homes and sheltered housing schemes run in partnership with Cordon Vert.

 "We realized that this part of the course was very useful and helpful to all participants so we decided to produce a booklet which could have more widespread distribution and which we could take along to events" says VfL Director Tina Fox.

"And although it is focused more on the needs of people in their 80s and 90s than those in their 60s, we hope the booklet will be helpful to all older vegetarians and vegans."