As a senior, you have the perfect opportunity to explore many new lifestyle options, including switching to a vegan diet. Perhaps your doctor has told you to lay off sweets and add more vegetables to your meals; maybe you need to lose weight or lower your cholesterol/blood sugar levels. Instead of looking at these changes as restraints, consider them valuable opportunities to lead a longer, happier, healthier life. 

At Wesley Enhanced Living retirement communities, we have a full staff of culinary and nutrition professionals to assist with all your dining needs, including support for specialized diets and nutritional requirements. Before we dive into the myriad health benefits of a vegan diet for seniors and older adults, let’s first take a closer look at what veganism entails and explore the plant-based principles of this diet.

What Is a “Plant-Based” Diet?

Contrary to what you may initially believe, a plant-based diet does not mean a diet that consists only of vegetables. In fact, it’s near impossible to get all necessary daily nutrients solely from vegetables, and especially for seniors, it’s crucial to have a well-rounded diet.

Plant-based diets — veganism in particular — consist of avoiding animal-based foods and products, including everything from red meat to milk. Instead, these should be replaced with fruits, vegetables, starchy foods, and whole grains.

Benefits of Choosing a Vegan Diet

You can make the necessary changes now to take hold of your senior years, and you may even feel better than you did when you were twenty! Here are just a few benefits you may experience if you adopt a vegan diet:

Slow the Aging Process

Research into vegan and plant-based diets shows they’re effective in slowing the aging process, which is a most welcome addition to many seniors’ lives! These diets increase telomerase, an enzyme that rebuilds telomeres (caps at the end of our DNA strands that shorten with age). Once they expire, so do we!

Processed meat and non-fried fish can do the opposite, even more so than soda, coffee, and fried treats.

Youthful Appearance

Seniors that switch to a vegan diet can benefit from improved complexions. Plant-based antioxidants remove free radicals from the skin that result in premature aging. They also help moisturize the skin and heal skin tissue, meaning you can look — and feel — younger!

Boost Immunity to Diseases

A diet that consists of lots of animal products is associated with higher levels of chronic disease and cholesterol. Elevated levels of dairy have also been linked to an increased risk of cancer. Making beans your protein source as opposed to meat can work to lower cholesterol. Adding protein from broccoli, kale, and other vegetables also boosts calcium.

Heighten Energy Levels

For seniors and older adults, one of the most substantial benefits of plant-based diets includes increased energy levels during the day. This can be a gamechanger when it comes to spending time with family as well as just being mobile! Foods like almonds, quinoa, and whole grains possess energizing qualities that have many advantages, including refined balance and resistance to falls, as well as improved mental health.

A Clear Mind

Seniors on a vegan diet benefit from having a clearer mind. Broccoli, cauliflower, and chickpeas have brain-boosting properties! Vegan diets are linked to lower cortisol levels, too, which is associated with stress. This lowers the risk of cognitive diseases, including Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Weight Management

By cutting out animal products, saturated fats, and other processed undesirables, it’s significantly easier for seniors to manage their weight. Weight loss brings about a whole slew of benefits, including everything from more energy to a positive self-image!

Improved Sleep

Bananas, sweet potatoes, nuts, and kale contain vitamin B6, magnesium, and tryptophan which increase melatonin levels and promote a healthy sleep cycle. Improved sleep reduces the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart attacks for older adults.

Are There Challenges of a Vegan Diet for Seniors?

Though there are numerous benefits of vegan diets for seniors, this lifestyle can pose challenges. When you eliminate certain foods, you lose the nutrients they provide. Foregoing most meat products can make it difficult to get the nutrients and sustenance needed — including getting enough calories, protein, calcium, and vitamin B12.

As with any change to your diet, please consult with a medical professional to ensure that all your nutritional needs are being addressed.

BONUS: Yummy Vegan Recipe Adapted from Eating Well

Need an easy and quick meatless dinner idea? This vegan recipe for grilled cauliflower steaks with butter beans and almond pesto takes just 25 minutes to prepare. It is full of nutrients and, as a bonus, is gluten-free, egg-free, soy-free, and vegan.

By Hallie L. Klocek, MPH RD LDN

Ingredient List

  • 5 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, divided, plus more for garnish
  • ½ cup almonds
  • ¼ cup packed fresh basil, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, plus more for garnish
  • Zest & juice of 1 lemon
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 2 large heads cauliflower
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 medium shallots, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans no-salt-added butter beans, rinsed
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar


  1. Preheat the grill to medium heat.
  2. Pulse almonds, 4 tablespoons parsley, basil, chives, lemon zest and juice, 2 tablespoons oil and ¼ teaspoon salt in a food processor until finely ground. If the pesto is too coarse, add a little extra olive oil.
  3. Place cauliflower heads on a cutting board, stem-side down. Using a large knife, cut two ½-inch-thick slices from the center of each head to make 4 “steaks.” (Reserve the remaining cauliflower for another use.) Brush the steaks with 2 tablespoons of oil. Combine paprika, garlic powder, and ½ teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle the mixture on both sides of the steaks.
  4. Grill the cauliflower steaks, turning once, until tender and nicely charred, about 10-15 minutes total. (Keep an eye on them, you don’t want them to get too soft or mushy. They should cook through and soften, but still maintain their shape.)
  5. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and cook until the shallots start to soften, about 1 minute. Add beans, water, pepper and the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vinegar and the remaining 1 tablespoon parsley.
  6. Serve the cauliflower steaks over the beans, and top with the pesto and any leftover fresh herbs, as desired.

Nutritional Information

Serving Size: 1 cauliflower steak, ¾ cup beans, and approximately 2 tablespoons pesto

Per Serving (approximate): 430 calories; 27 grams fat (3 g saturated); 10 grams fiber; 35 grams carbohydrates; 14 grams protein; 3 grams sugar; 670 mg sodium.

Embrace Retirement and Live Free with Help from Wesley Enhanced Living

Hold onto your retirement dreams with vigor by embracing a healthier diet and making new memories with us at Wesley Enhanced Living. Our seniors enjoy independent living, personal care, as well as other levels of assistance. Avoid shrinking from the best years of your life when you can blossom now!

Wesley Enhanced Living provides high-quality senior retirement communities for you or your loved ones. Contact one of our Philadelphia area locations and find out why our seniors love where they live. Our staff is happy to discuss your elder’s needs or your own, give you a tour, and inform you of our range of services.