A Lancashire widower is celebrating three decades of veganism today, on his 98th birthday.
Roy Burdin, who opted for veganism when he was 'well into his 60s', is a lifelong vegetarian, who ditched all animal products when he learned about factory farming.
He credits simple vegan foods – including a 'good, straightforward, honest hummus' - for his long life, saying: "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 straightforward, good healthy food which is plant-orientated."
Vegan not vegetarian
Burdin, who has lived in Longton all of his life 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.
In a statement sent to Plant Based News, he spoke about his choosing veganism, and what he likes to eat, saying: "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. 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 added that he prefers natural foods - rather than trying to imitate animal products, saying: "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."
With a deep interest in animal ethics, and a passion for plant-based food, he says he is happy being vegan, and 'will never change now', adding: "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."
Roy Burdin went vegan after learning about factory farming. Video: Supplied by Vegetarian for Life
Burdin married and had two sons, Raymond and Peter with wife Gwen, who 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. Burdin said: "They support me solidly being vegan but won't go the final step themselves."
Son Raymond, who is in his 60s, added: "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."
This interest in promoting veganism goes beyond speaking to his family - Burdin has plans 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'.
He contacted Vegetarian for Life, a charity based in Manchester which helps support older vegetarians and vegans, to get support in moving forward with these plans.
He said: "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."
Amanda Woodvine, CEO of Vegetarian for Life, a charity based in Manchester, said to PBN over email: "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.
"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."
He will celebrate his birthday this weekend with a vegan family meal at a local restaurant.