In need of advice and support- on attempting to be the only vegetarian in the family - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 08-26-2012, 03:03 PM - Thread Starter
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What to do when all of your young children are non-vegetarian and your partner is also non-veg and not the least bit interested in it? At all? I spent the majority of my teens, early 20's, and mid 20's as a vegetarian/vegan. It seems family life is what throws me off because of all the varying dietary preferences. My parents became vegetarians 5 years ago, after NEVER being veg their whole lives, and I find that inspiring and it kind of puts me to shame. In all reality I have a lot of ethical and health-related aversions to consuming meat. I am also fairly gluten and lactose intolerant. I do the majority of the meal prep in our home, and in the past keeping it vegetarian for any length of time left me with a cranky partner... and while one of my children naturally leans towards vegetarianism, the other two do not (one has ASD and on a gfcf diet as well). 


I realize it seams as *easy* as to making myself an alternate- which I often do- But our meal planning/prep is crazy! I have 2 children who eat one thing, another who is on the gfcf diet, an infant to nurse, and a carnivoreos husband. Our meals are rarely totally congruent. 


I know it will really just take some devotion on my part, but I also have that slight "If I'm the one cooking, you should eat what I make you" feeling. But then I feel like my (truly wonderful) husband will go buy himself cheeseburgers after dinner! (typically when I do prepare meat in our home it is organic/natural/grass fed/local etc, not fast food). 


I have had friends who have turned their partners, but i doubt it in my case :) I just want to stop compromising my own feelings on the matter. Just looking for advice on how to simplify things/ make it work.

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#2 of 11 Old 08-26-2012, 03:30 PM
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I'm sorry to hear of your struggles!  I didn't push it on my hubby.  I kept preparing two meals, kept ordering vegetarian when we went out ... and when I went Vegan, he went Vegetarian ... and that was after 15 years of marriage.  Today, at nearly 25 years of marriage, we are both Vegans and raising our children Vegan too along with cooking around numerous allergies and being GFDF too.  It's complicated and now I still find myself cooking more than one meal sometimes just because of picky toddlers!  :)


Good luck to you!!!

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#3 of 11 Old 08-26-2012, 03:36 PM
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I'm in a very different situation (hubby and I are both vegan) but I do have some advice to offer. Here's what I would do:
- Agree on having one or two days a week that are all vegetarian days. Even carnivores need fruits and veggies.
- On the other days, prepare vegetarian meals that are easy to add nonvegetarian foods to. For example make tacos, salads, pasta, personal pizzas, sandwiches/burgers, etc. Each person makes their own using whatever ingredients they want.
- Go out to eat once a week. Try places like Sweet Tomatoes that are buffet style to suit everyone's desires.
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#4 of 11 Old 08-26-2012, 03:40 PM
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well considering your husband is a grown man, he can make his own meals. 
you cook everything but the meat and he can cook that and add it to his own food if he chooses.  i just made vegetarian chili with soy chorizo and jasmine rice and it is sooooo good. you would never miss the meat at all.

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#5 of 11 Old 08-26-2012, 06:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you- marsupial mom that was sort of what I had begun thinking... I don't expect him to "change", I'm not pushing for that at all, but I am concerned for both of our health and well being, so I don't want to constantly prepare things he'd like that aren't very good for you, vegetarian or non-. And while he is a grown man, and he does make the whole family meals at times, I am currently more or less a SAHM and he works over 60 hours a week. I love cooking. I feel like I'm doing my part to support our family. Believe me, I have been in an unfair SAHM situation with my ex- where he worked and therefore "everything else" was my job- everything. He worked 40 hours a weeks and 2 babies and all else were my responsibility. As it is now, things are much more equalized and dinners just happen to be one of my preferred contributions. I think in reality he will just suffer through it, get over it, and eat. And feel better lol

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#6 of 11 Old 08-27-2012, 05:28 AM
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I'm not in the same situation but there have been times when we've had vegetarians in our home for lengthy periods of time. One of the kids was vegetarian for about a year and we've hosted vegetarians for long visits. 


It is a challenge to overcome the "short order cook" syndrome. With family, I tend to agree with "If I prepare it without your help, then you should eat it". It gets more complicated when you are managing food intolerances though. I like some of the ideas suggested, eg. have a couple of days that are vegetarian meals only, offer flexible meals that work for vegetarians and carnivores etc. 


One thing that I found helpful was to prepare some meat "sides" once a week or so and keep them in the refrigerator for the carnivores to add to their meals. A roast chicken is fairly easy to prep and stick in the oven. Then ask him to carve it up and all week he will have chicken for sandwiches, to add to salad or pasta or stir fries etc. Grill a good size steak and he can do the same thing. Another easy one is ground beef - flavour it with taco seasonings or Thai seasonings or hoisin and black bean sauce or just ol' tomato sauce and cook it up. He can use it for tacos, add it to stir fried noodles or rice, top it with mashed potato and make a shepherd's pie, stuff bell peppers with it. Lots of options....


Good luck.  

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#7 of 11 Old 08-27-2012, 07:03 AM
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Not quite the same household divide as you, OP (me & 2 kids are veg, and dh is not) - but when my vegetarian meals aren't as satisfying for dh, we'll end up picking up simple to cook meaty stuff for him to have around and have with our meals: burgers or turkeyburgers, pork chops, canned tuna, bacon, sausage - most of this we keep frozen and then if I pull it out for him he'll eat it up throughout the week.  Some of it I'll go ahead and cook for him, it's simple enough and I don't always mind, or it's easy enough for him to go ahead and do if I mention it's around.  

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#8 of 11 Old 08-27-2012, 10:57 AM
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I'm not a true vegetarian, but I avoid eating meat for the most part.  I prepare almost all vegetarian dishes at home.  DH eats out at work practically every day so I figure he has plenty of opportunities to get his meat!  DS mostly eats school lunches and he's good about choosing vegetarian options a lot of the time.  DSD is my true carnivore and is always trying to order wings or "meat lover's" pizza when we eat out.  eyesroll.gif  I try to just say "those aren't healthy choices...let's find something else."


So, I agree with the PPs that if your DH isn't willing to "settle" on vegetarian meals, just add a meat side to your vegetarian entree.  He may get tired of dealing with it. And also mentioned by the PPs, I prefer ground meat if I "must" do a non-vegetarian meal.  I don't have to touch it or deal with it...dump in pan and add spices.  thumb.gif

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#9 of 11 Old 12-06-2012, 10:38 PM
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I hope you have already found a solution being as it has been a few months but.... I had this problem too - and I was making 3 meals per mealtime every day - it was driving me nuts!!!!!!

after 8 years I came clean and told dh that we had to do something. He suggested I make us all a vegetarian dish  and then he would bbq his meat most nights, if I could cook some meat once or twice a week for him to have on the side. It's great because now I can out all that effort into one meal and we are all eating better. If he's sick of hippie goop I pout the crock pot on for him. The only hassle I have is that he refuses wholegrain rice and pasta, so I batch cook that once a week and do the white stuff as we go. Funny that now he's getting quality veg food he is having a number of meat free meals

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#10 of 11 Old 12-08-2012, 07:43 PM
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I am in a somewhat similar boat: I am a vegetarian and have been since I was a teen, and my partner and my daughter are not. I also, as of about three months ago, am gluten and dairy free due to suspected food allergies/doctors orders. If I were to make separate meals to accommodate everyone's preferences, I think I would lose my mind, and we would spend a fortune. So, we try to strike a happy medium. I am not into preparing meat if it is extensive and very hands on, but occasionally I will throw some fish or chicken into a foil envelope with spices/oils/butter/veggies.


My partner will also sometimes prepare roasts or other meats in the oven or the crock pot to eat throughout the week, to compliment/replace what I am making. Other days, he just makes himself a sandwich and treats what I make as his sides. (He does cook a few meals per week for everyone, but I work less hours and am off in the afternoon, so it makes most sense for me to make dinner since I am around.)


Otherwise, we try to find stuff that everyone likes that is vegetarian, dairy and gluten free. For us, the best solution is soup more often than not, at least in the cooler months. There are many vegan and vegetarian soups that meet my vegetarian/dairy free/gluten free criteria that my family loves. I make gluten free croutons that are delicious, and they add a dollop of sour cream, yogurt or cheese if the recipe calls for it. I don't think anyone feels like they are missing out on anything. We also do a lot of hummus, salads, quinoa, polenta, and I make a killer thai rice noodle with veggies that everyone loves, etc. It is quite easy to do stir fry or tacos in a "choose your own protein" manner where the tofu and chicken are cooked in two separate pans from everything else. My family is luckily a big fan of beans, so we eat those a lot in lieu of meat.


It really does not feel that hard anymore, but we have been doing it for almost a decade. When I met my now husband, he was all fast food and pizza,meat and potatoes kind of guy. He actually ate salad only to impress me when we first started dating, (he told me years later.) He now eats vegetables and fruit every day several times per day, and eats very healthy (not fast food,) when he does eat meat. I feel like it is win-win. He is healthier and will likely live longer, and we are not buying and making separate meals daily.

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#11 of 11 Old 12-11-2012, 01:59 PM
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I don't know if this helps but I double up on what I am cooking just for me and then either reheat it quickly or have it for a cold salad within a couple of days.  It makes making different meals easier.  (In my case it's because I like spicy food and the kids don't, I eat meat and one of my kids doesn't.)

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