My vegan diet is responsible for my long life - says Roy, 98
'The only disadvantage to being vegan is you live too long.'
This is the summary of a plant-based lifestyle from Roy Burdin, who has been a vegan for around 30 years, and turns 98 today.
Veganism is often thought of as a relatively modern concept, but for Longton resident Roy, it has been a long-term lifestyle.
And as he celebrates his milestone birthday, he claims his longevity is down to eating simple vegan foods – including a ‘good, straightforward, honest hummus’.
Roy, who served in the RAF during the Second World War, had been a vegetarian all his life, and his father also ate a meat-free diet.
But it wasn’t until Roy was in his 60s when he converted to veganism. He said factory farming was the reason behind cutting out all animal products.
He said: “I was well into my 60s when I went vegan. It was still considered to be rather an advanced step and a lot of people who were vegetarian couldn’t see the point in giving up dairy produce and so on.
“It wasn’t until factory farming came along and it was that aspect that convinced me that to be honest, you had to go vegan rather than just vegetarian.”
Roy, who has lived in Longton almost all his life, said: “I keep my food simple. I don’t agree with all this elaborate culinary work.
“I must say a lot of vegan recipe books don’t turn me on because you find you need a whole range of things you just haven’t go in stock.
“Why make things complicated?”
He enjoys eating porridge, soups and salads.
Roy added: “Hummus is very nice. I don’t agree with too much trying to imitate non-vegan foods like cheese and trying to make them substitutes. I think a good straightforward honest hummus made with chickpeas is as good as anything.
“So I tend to use that instead of vegan cheeses.”
Roy worked on his father’s vegetable stall and then went on to join the RAF working on radar technology. He later worked for the Ministry of Defence looking after air traffic control equipment.
He married and had two sons, Raymond and Peter. But sadly his partner, Gwen, died 30 years ago.
His family aren’t vegan but do make sure they all enjoy a vegan meal when he is around for dinner.
Roy added: “They support me solidly being vegan but won’t go the final step themselves.”
His son Raymond, who is in his 60s, said: “Dad is still really independent and always prepares his own vegetables.
“He is also very keen to convert us all. Every day he reads the Ethics of Diet, he pores over it and quotes the merits of a vegan diet to us.”
Roy is also wanting to campaign to local care homes to ensure they have adequate vegan and vegetarian meals for residents because he says he is ‘lucky to be able to live at home and have choice over his food’.
Roy said: “I am going to contact local care homes.
“I think that’s a great step forward to try to alert the care homes and places that cater for older people so they don’t find they are being denied the foods that they like.”
When asked what is secret is to healthy living, Roy said: “I have always believed in getting out in plenty of fresh air, living in the country most of my life I expect to be classified as a country boy and apart from cutting out meat, and now going vegan, I say that you should eat straight forward, good healthy food which is plant orientated.”
He said: “I am happy to press on being vegan and I will never change now.”
Roy added that he was speaking to a vegan restaurant owner recently, he said: “I was talking to the manager, and in a joke to him I said the only disadvantage to being vegan is that you live too long.”
He will celebrate this weekend with a vegan family meal at a local restaurant.
Amanda Woodvine, CEO of Vegetarian for Life, a charity based in Manchester which helps support older vegetarians and vegans, said: “Roy first got in touch with us to request some of our information packs which provide simple recipes. He also asked about how he could help encourage local care homes to offer vegan and vegetarians meals to residents.
“This is one of the main things we do as a charity so we were happy to help Roy with his request.”
Contact details for care homes near to Roy were given and he said he will call them to try to encourage them to offer more choice.
Amanda added: “Roy’s dedication to a vegetarian and vegan way of living is truly commendable.
“From all of us at V for Life, we want to wish Roy a very happy birthday.”