Vegan at the hospital - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 02-02-2008, 11:08 AM
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I just returned home after a 4-day stay at the hospital for major (but successful!) surgery (yay me!) I couldn't eat anything the first day, and the second day they started me on a liquid diet. I got chicken broth, jell-o, and apple juice.



When the nurse came by, I reminded her that I'd written "vegan" on my application. She said "Oh, sorry." When my evening tray came, I got...beef broth, jell-o, and apple juice (did I mention I hate apple juice?). When I saw the (new) nurse I told her that I was vegan, and she suggested I have my husband bring me food from home!



The next morning my doctor came by to see me and I told her about the food. She promised to get me something to eat, as I was starting solid foods that day. I got a liquid tray that morning with juice, a popsicle (!!) and vegetable broth (so good).



That afternoon I got another liquids tray (no popsicle!) and I was ready to raise a fuss when a second tray was delivered. "Sorry, we just noticed you were on solid foods now." It was AMAZING! I had: a bun, some margarine, a green salad (well...iceberg lettuce and carrots, and a little purple cabbage, better than nothing) with balsalmic vinagrette, green beans, rice, and "sweet and sour tofu" which tasted fantastic. I wasn't sure about the bun and margarine, but I decided to pick my battles.



The breakfast tray was whole-wheat toast with peanut butter, coffee with packets of sugar and non-dairy creamer, hot water and teabags, juice (oj this time, I think) and a popsicle (!!!). I took a look at the non-dairy creamer out of curiosity, since I know they're often not vegan, but this one actually had no dairy at all. So maybe the bun and marg were okay. I don't use creamer anyway (and hadn't the stomach for coffee).



My last tray before I left was "vegan jambalaya" (basically tofu cubes with mixed vegetables and rice) and the salad (italian dressing this time) and the bun, and it was great. So although I had trouble convincing the staff I really was vegan, I wound up eating well by the time I left. And I thanked my doctor profusely. Also, I love popsicles.
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#2 Old 02-02-2008, 11:21 AM
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I'm glad you had a successful surgery and are recovering well. It sounds like they got it down pretty well once they really realized what you could/couldn't eat. It'll help them better care for the next vegan, too!
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#3 Old 02-02-2008, 01:32 PM
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I'm glad you're doing well and that they were receptive to you once you raised a fuss! btw, the bun and margarine probably were vegan... I've eaten stuff like that before and it almost always is.



The food sounds pretty yummy! Now I want to go cook vegan jambalaya or something. =P
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#4 Old 02-02-2008, 02:57 PM
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That's great! That's way better than my experience. I spend 10 days in the hospital in dec of 05, and they never figured out vegan. My orders said "vegetarian, no meat broth, no gelatin, no fish, no dairy, no eggs." It was ignored. I had to yell to have trays taken out of my room because the smell of the contents was making me ill. I'd circle things on the "menus" (rice, plain oatmeal, dry toast, etc...) but they got ignored. My family and bf spoke to the nursing staff, sat down at a computer with them to enter my dietary needs, met with the nutritionist, who also spoke with me. Still nothing. The nutritionist started sending these calorie packet things to mix with my water (cause i wasn't eating anything, just drinking water) but they contained COLLAGEN so I wasn't going to be using that, thanks. After surgery #2 she came into my room and was waving them in my face demanding why I wasn't using them and in my largely sedated state just yelled back "THEY AREN'T VEGAN" and my dad almost had to physically remove her from my room. In the end, I had to be eating to be discharged, so when the doctor asked, I just lied and said yes cause I wanted to go home and if they hadn't figured it out by then they weren't going to. Over the course of 10 days I'd eaten about 3 bites of oatmeal, 1/2 cup of white rice, and a few crackers. I was sick enough not to care about food too much (burst appendix. not fun), but it was highly irritating.

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#5 Old 02-02-2008, 03:44 PM
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Glad everything went well, Medesha!
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#6 Old 02-02-2008, 07:53 PM
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Wow. I have never thought of what I would do if I ever ended up in the hospital... to have to submit yourself to others and to trust that they are giving you the right foods. Good for you in being firm and letting them know what you want. I find that too many people have no clue what vegan means, even after you explain it to them.
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#7 Old 02-02-2008, 07:55 PM
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I'm glad the surgery went well! I fear getting my wisdom teeth out... I know they have to use cat gut (ewwwwww) and eating will be difficult afterwards. Luckily, I'm only a vegetarian (no milk or eggs by themselves though), so I don't think it will be as hard. Veggie broth and pudding for days, yay.
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#8 Old 02-02-2008, 07:57 PM
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If you ever have to have surgery again, fly out to Loma Linda Hospital. They have a vegetarian cafeteria (seventh day advenists) and I'm pretty sure they'd listen to your vegan needs. I went there when my sister had her baby (she actually worked there too) and the food doesn't look bad at all!
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#9 Old 02-02-2008, 08:31 PM
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It seems so frustrating that hospital food is so bad as it's the place where people are most likely to need a healthy diet and vegan can provide that really well! Fortunately I've never had to stay in hospital, but I think the situation's pretty much the same in the uk from what I've heard. What you ended up with sounds good though Medesha! Sorry to hear about your experience though Rabid.
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#10 Old 02-02-2008, 08:35 PM
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Wow! That is crazy! I am glad things worked out in the end!
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#11 Old 02-03-2008, 12:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Medesha View Post

I just returned home after a 4-day stay at the hospital for major (but successful!) surgery (yay me!) I couldn't eat anything the first day, and the second day they started me on a liquid diet. I got chicken broth, jell-o, and apple juice.



When the nurse came by, I reminded her that I'd written "vegan" on my application. She said "Oh, sorry." When my evening tray came, I got...beef broth, jell-o, and apple juice (did I mention I hate apple juice?). When I saw the (new) nurse I told her that I was vegan, and she suggested I have my husband bring me food from home!



The next morning my doctor came by to see me and I told her about the food. She promised to get me something to eat, as I was starting solid foods that day. I got a liquid tray that morning with juice, a popsicle (!!) and vegetable broth (so good).



That afternoon I got another liquids tray (no popsicle!) and I was ready to raise a fuss when a second tray was delivered. "Sorry, we just noticed you were on solid foods now." It was AMAZING! I had: a bun, some margarine, a green salad (well...iceberg lettuce and carrots, and a little purple cabbage, better than nothing) with balsalmic vinagrette, green beans, rice, and "sweet and sour tofu" which tasted fantastic. I wasn't sure about the bun and margarine, but I decided to pick my battles.



The breakfast tray was whole-wheat toast with peanut butter, coffee with packets of sugar and non-dairy creamer, hot water and teabags, juice (oj this time, I think) and a popsicle (!!!). I took a look at the non-dairy creamer out of curiosity, since I know they're often not vegan, but this one actually had no dairy at all. So maybe the bun and marg were okay. I don't use creamer anyway (and hadn't the stomach for coffee).



My last tray before I left was "vegan jambalaya" (basically tofu cubes with mixed vegetables and rice) and the salad (italian dressing this time) and the bun, and it was great. So although I had trouble convincing the staff I really was vegan, I wound up eating well by the time I left. And I thanked my doctor profusely. Also, I love popsicles.



As for the suggestion of your husband bringing your food, then if your country has a healthcare system you have to pay for I'd be l;ike "I have to pay for this, you're supposed to be giving me what I'm paying for!"
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#12 Old 02-03-2008, 12:57 AM
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Originally Posted by rabid_child View Post

That's great! That's way better than my experience. I spend 10 days in the hospital in dec of 05, and they never figured out vegan. My orders said "vegetarian, no meat broth, no gelatin, no fish, no dairy, no eggs." It was ignored. I had to yell to have trays taken out of my room because the smell of the contents was making me ill. I'd circle things on the "menus" (rice, plain oatmeal, dry toast, etc...) but they got ignored. My family and bf spoke to the nursing staff, sat down at a computer with them to enter my dietary needs, met with the nutritionist, who also spoke with me. Still nothing. The nutritionist started sending these calorie packet things to mix with my water (cause i wasn't eating anything, just drinking water) but they contained COLLAGEN so I wasn't going to be using that, thanks. After surgery #2 she came into my room and was waving them in my face demanding why I wasn't using them and in my largely sedated state just yelled back "THEY AREN'T VEGAN" and my dad almost had to physically remove her from my room. In the end, I had to be eating to be discharged, so when the doctor asked, I just lied and said yes cause I wanted to go home and if they hadn't figured it out by then they weren't going to. Over the course of 10 days I'd eaten about 3 bites of oatmeal, 1/2 cup of white rice, and a few crackers. I was sick enough not to care about food too much (burst appendix. not fun), but it was highly irritating.



Since your profile says NY I'm gonna guess it's New York in the USA... in which case I think I'd probably sue for 'failing in duty of care' or something
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#13 Old 02-03-2008, 12:59 AM
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Originally Posted by llamapower View Post

It seems so frustrating that hospital food is so bad as it's the place where people are most likely to need a healthy diet and vegan can provide that really well! Fortunately I've never had to stay in hospital, but I think the situation's pretty much the same in the uk from what I've heard. What you ended up with sounds good though Medesha! Sorry to hear about your experience though Rabid.



Yep, lots of bad experiences reported in UK
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#14 Old 02-03-2008, 07:00 AM
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Originally Posted by rabid_child View Post

That's great! That's way better than my experience. I spend 10 days in the hospital in dec of 05, and they never figured out vegan. My orders said "vegetarian, no meat broth, no gelatin, no fish, no dairy, no eggs." It was ignored. I had to yell to have trays taken out of my room because the smell of the contents was making me ill. I'd circle things on the "menus" (rice, plain oatmeal, dry toast, etc...) but they got ignored. My family and bf spoke to the nursing staff, sat down at a computer with them to enter my dietary needs, met with the nutritionist, who also spoke with me. Still nothing. The nutritionist started sending these calorie packet things to mix with my water (cause i wasn't eating anything, just drinking water) but they contained COLLAGEN so I wasn't going to be using that, thanks. After surgery #2 she came into my room and was waving them in my face demanding why I wasn't using them and in my largely sedated state just yelled back "THEY AREN'T VEGAN" and my dad almost had to physically remove her from my room. In the end, I had to be eating to be discharged, so when the doctor asked, I just lied and said yes cause I wanted to go home and if they hadn't figured it out by then they weren't going to. Over the course of 10 days I'd eaten about 3 bites of oatmeal, 1/2 cup of white rice, and a few crackers. I was sick enough not to care about food too much (burst appendix. not fun), but it was highly irritating.



And for this... you need to pay monthly a damn health insurance because you can't get a surgery for free.... Yikes... It said that US Medicare is the best (and the most expensive ) but... pse.... When I lived for some years in Europe (Spain) Medicare was free. There were private companies too, but you could go to a nice hospital without paying money (and I remember I could eat without problems)
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#15 Old 02-03-2008, 07:07 AM
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Medesha, that's great that they finally got it. Now, next time they have a vegan patient, they might remember and do better from the start. Hope so!



Wow, Rabid_child, what a horrible experience. Your post almost made me cry. If you had an appendectomy, you certainly weren't in any condition to be arguing with staff. (Were they insane?) They don't sound like they learned anything from it, either. What a shame. Do we all have to scout out the hospitals in advance to see where to direct the ambulance? Geez!

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#16 Old 02-03-2008, 07:13 AM
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I forgot to say:



Lugo is a small suburbian city in Spain... in the Hospital (where you pay NOTHING) you get the previous day a menu of all the options for the next day. You choose want you want. If you have any dietary restrictions... you can modify (veganize for example) anything of the menu. They never did anything wrong.
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#17 Old 02-03-2008, 07:17 AM
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Medesha, what I don't understand is why one nurse actually suggested that your husband bring you food from home, when there was clearly a variety of great vegan food at the hospital, which you ended up getting eventually. Why didn't the nurse know about that? It's a good thing she wasn't the only one caring for you, or you would never have known about the good vegan food at the hospital and would have half starved!
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#18 Old 02-03-2008, 07:51 AM
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I got a lot of popsicles when I had my surgery too, lol. They also gave me tea (which I don't like), cranberry juice (same), broth, and sherbet. I actually enjoyed the liquid diet quite a bit and was sad when I got put on solids, because then they started giving me crap food. I was an omni at the time, though, so all my complaints were about what I didn't like and what I couldn't chew (I had jaw surgery).



I'm glad it worked so well in the end, and I'm happy that your surgery was successful!
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#19 Old 02-03-2008, 09:22 AM
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Since your profile says NY I'm gonna guess it's New York in the USA... in which case I think I'd probably sue for 'failing in duty of care' or something



The surgery was in Maryland... but not feeding you in the hospital isn't grounds for litigation. It didn't cause any lasting harm.



We are looking into the fact that they left a fecolith in my abdomen (poop rock! causes appendicitis.. it's like a kidney stone in your intestines) which resulted in six months of discomfort before it was decided I needed more surgery to remove it, which then resulted in superinfections and I'm still sick. HA! That part sucked much more than no food.

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#20 Old 02-03-2008, 09:58 AM
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Yep, lots of bad experiences reported in UK



I don't know how true that is. Thankfully i've never been admitted to hospital but working in one i feel confident that if i was admitted my veganism would be catered for. Walking round the wards i've seen several signs of 'Vegan diet' as well as the usual diabetic, liquid only etc. I know the food patients are given if pretty rubbish, despite the fact it's won several awards. I believe they have something like 90p to feed a patient 3 meals a day which is a stupid amount. All food is ready made and frozen and brought from the other side of the country. However as far as I'm aware a lot of special diets are catered for in house by the regular chefs. Also for people with special diet requests dietitians/dietetic assistants are meant to consult with the patient and staff as to what the patient can eat. There's actually a policy on it. I don't know in practice how well this system actually works and what the food is actually like but i'd like to think it's not too bad.

However that is an example of one hospital I'm sure some are a lot of worse. I guess it's where you are, the same with basic care.
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#21 Old 02-03-2008, 10:17 AM
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that's great Medesha everyone else who had bad experiences :

I have heard that things aren't as dire in the UK (partly due to Animal Aid doing a lot of good work) but if I was planning to go to hospital I would totally have my dad and/or girlfriend prepped to turn up with emergency tubs of babyfood and flasks of soup if things went bad. *hopes to stay healthy*
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#22 Old 02-03-2008, 01:33 PM
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But it's a hospital not a hotel!

I mean sure its nice to be catered for, but are you really insulted if they can't cater for everyone? I would just bring my own food. It's pretty hard to cater for 2000 different people all with different dietary requests. IMO you take what is offered or you bring your own food.

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#23 Old 02-03-2008, 01:37 PM
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I think the point of a hospital is to make you well, and for that they should have a variety of healthy food on hand. Your patient can't get well if you can't feed her.



The nurse who told me to bring food from home...well...I had issues with her anyway. (She tripped over my catheter! Talk about ow!) The rest of the staff was very helpful once I got my point across. I didn't even need to explain "vegan". My surgery was in Canada, fwiw. Alberta Health Care and my employer's benefits cover everything, so money well spent.



I am eating Belsoy butterscotch pudding right now...yum.
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#24 Old 02-03-2008, 01:48 PM
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The surgery was in Maryland... but not feeding you in the hospital isn't grounds for litigation. It didn't cause any lasting harm.



I'm originally from Maryland. If it's one of the two main hospitals there, that I'm thinking of, well, all I have to say about them is . It's really no surprise that they didn't feed you! (it IS very sad, though)
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#25 Old 02-03-2008, 02:11 PM
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But it's a hospital not a hotel!

I mean sure its nice to be catered for, but are you really insulted if they can't cater for everyone? I would just bring my own food. It's pretty hard to cater for 2000 different people all with different dietary requests. IMO you take what is offered or you bring your own food.



I completely disagree with that. It was a hospital, people have dietary restrictions that MUST be followed and if they're so relaxed about serving her meat products, I can't imagine how reckless they are with those who have allergies. People also have serious religious convictions... my sister works at a hospital and she knows how important it is to make sure the patient can eat. A vegan diet is SO easy compared to those with gluten allergies, nut allergies, etc. Anything from oatmeal, dry toast, veggie broth, rice, beans, fruit, veggies... I mean, it's not rocket science.



If I were a Jewish person who didn't eat pig, I would be extremely offended if the hospital brought me pork bacon. And most people would completely support a lawsuit if that happened, but if it was a vegetarian, people wouldn't bother since it's a choice (as if religion isn't as well).
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#26 Old 02-03-2008, 04:06 PM
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#27 Old 02-03-2008, 04:52 PM
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Great to hear that your surgery was a success, and I am impressed with the response at the hospital. I wonder if I would have such success, hopefully I'll never find out.
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#28 Old 02-03-2008, 05:21 PM
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Though, I'm not vegan, I had a pretty good experience as a lactose-intolerant vegetarian with my hospital stay just over 2 years ago when I had my daughter. Most hospitals these days do cater to those with dietary restrictions, you just need to talk to the right people at the hospital to make sure you get the right type of food--a lot of hospitals even let you order your meals from a menu now.



If you know you're going in for a surgery or giving birth, make sure you pick a hospital that can and will cater to your needs before you decide on the hospital. Obviously, in cases of emergency, this might not work, but it's not a bad idea to find out about this sort of thing, just in case.
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#29 Old 02-03-2008, 05:26 PM
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Originally Posted by LionSpirit View Post

Since your profile says NY I'm gonna guess it's New York in the USA... in which case I think I'd probably sue for 'failing in duty of care' or something



Ah, yes. Frivilous lawsuits. One of the reasons the cost of health care in the US is so high.



Medesha, I think it's great you finally got such great food. Where I work, I doubt the kitchen knows what tofu is, much less how to cook it. I'm glad your surgery went well. You've been in my prayers since your original request.
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#30 Old 02-03-2008, 05:26 PM
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Good that you are one the mend, and nice to hear that the hospital took good care of you, including feeding you properly!



It's all very well to expect family and friends to bring food if you have special dietary requirements, but what if you don't have anyone nearby to do that? Hospitals do need to be able to accomodate reasonable requests.
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