A young vegan has slammed the “hopeless” and “nutritionally unsatisfying” hospital food during her week-long stay.
Rebecca Walker, 23, was airlifted to Rotorua Hospital earlier this month after breaking her ankle while hiking the Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand’s North Island.
During her hospital stay, she asked friends to bring food over, as most of the meals were either non-vegan or lacked protein.
Meals included no-dairy weet-bix, cheese-covered chickpeas, stir-fries with rice, and a sad salad sandwich with a slice of tomato, a stick of cucumber, and some green leaves on lightly buttered bread.
Dinner one night consisted of three apples and a juice box.
Many of the meals on offer were non-vegan, including cow’s milk, yogurt, cheese, porridge and jelly, although Ms Walker had repeatedly advised staff of her dietary needs.
Rebecca Walker was unimpressed by the vegan hospital foods at Rotorua Hospital, including this ‘sad’ salad sandwich
“I’m hungry and frustrated,” Ms. Walker said Rotorua Daily Post.
The morning after she was served non-vegan jelly for lunch, she was again offered cow’s milk and yoghurt, despite assurances from staff that they would do better.
“All I asked for for breakfast was soy milk as an option or a non-dairy alternative,” she said.
Ms Walker said the ordeal made her feel like a “burden”.
She commented on this ordeal amid calls for better public education about vegan diets and the differences between gluten-free and vegetarian diets.
“I just understand [as] As part of recovery, you need nutritionally balanced meals. And plates that have a huge share [of] “Carbs and not much else are probably not the best option for people to get healthy,” Ms Walker said.
Rotorua Hospital serves 15,000 hospital meals each month, which must meet national nutritional standards, according to Te Whatu Ora Lakes Health Service.
One of the better dinners was a vegetable stir fry which had more rice than vegetables
Acting interim chief Gary Lees said the health service was doing its best to serve nutritious meals and that its caterer met with the hospital’s dietitian every month to ensure patients’ nutritional needs were being met.
He added that 20 dietary needs will be catered for, including vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, low-fat, halal and Hindu.
“When we receive complaints, our ward staff, nutritionists and catering staff are available to speak directly with the patient to resolve any issues,” a statement to Daily Mail Australia said.
“Our meals are made from fresh ingredients made on site and not microwaved meals.”
Mr Lees added that patient surveys are conducted daily about meals and this month’s results showed that overall satisfaction for “meeting” or “exceeding expectations” was 98 per cent, with 74 per cent being “exceeding expectations”.
The health service did not respond to further questions from Daily Mail Australia about Ms Walker’s experience or whether vegan meals would be improved.
According to the health service, Rotorua Hospital (pictured) caters for up to 20 dietary needs, including vegan ones