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Cooking for Omnivores when I'm not one.

593 Views 9 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  accountclosed3
I will be living with and cooking for my mother and assorted relatives for about a month. There may be some sharing of the cooking duties.
Here's the background. I have two sisters who will be visiting during the month at my mother's cottage.
One of my sisters has led a vegetarian lifestyle although she is moving away from it because of resistant teenagers. Another sister is an omnivore.
I have been following a vegetarian diet pretty consistently for about 6 months and my family has gone along with it although they would like to have more meat.

My mother informed me today that she would like to have hamburgers and chicken and she wants me to cook it. She said my kids will be so happy to have a hamburger. GRRR... I have a hard time cooking meat, unless I know that it's been raised and killed in an ethical way. Since I'll be doing my shopping in an area that I don't know well, I won't be able to find natural, organic meat.

Has anyone else encountered this dilemma? Should I cook the meat, even though I don't want to, in order to keep the peace? I'd love to educate her but I don't think she's at all interested.
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Why are you assuming all the cooking duty? What is the situation? That could really contribute to my answer.

Without knowing the reason, my initial response is, why can't you prepare everything else and leave handling the meat to one of the other adults present? They're talking burgers and grilled chicken, not complicated curry dishes or stews with the meat integral to the meal. You could readily prepare salads and roasted veggies and grains and desserts and so forth; why can't one of the other adults present manage slinging the burgers on the grill?

What is your opinion on your mother's thing about your kids eating the burgers? Do they eat meat, or did they go veg with you? I would be livid if my mother tried to tell me what my kids should be eating. If you're not cool with them eating that meat, it's *your* say, not hers. She shouldn't be pressuring you or manipulating them to eat it. If you prefer to avoid any drama by just going along with her on that point, or if they're omni and will give you a hard time if others are eating meat without them, you could maybe pack along enough of the better quality meat you described, frozen.
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The beauty of being an omnivore is that you can eat ANYTHING -- including vegetarian dishes. I'm not vegetarian, but I often cook dinners that I like that don't happen to contain meat. If you're responsible for some of the cooking, I would think you're within your rights to cook what you like. There's a really good "falafel burger" in Vegetarian Planet that my omnivorous family loves, fwiw.
I would have someone non veg take over cooking all meat. If your kids are veg I would not have your mom telling them they need to eat meat. I will say as a person who does eat meat that if I go a week or two stretch wihtout any I can start to feel drained, but I would not expect you to make it for me.

Originally Posted by Suzukimom View Post
My mother informed me today that she would like to have hamburgers and chicken and she wants me to cook it.

If the two of you will be living together for a whole month it is fair that she lets you know what she would like to be eating - but not fair that she wants you to cook it for her, unless she has some limiting condition that prevents her from cooking her own meat.

She should be able to eat what she likes, but not dictate that you handle it. If she does have some kind if disability that prevents her from using the stove or BBQ herself, then a good conversation is in order. In that case, if no one else was around to cook meat for her some nights (someone who is comfortable doing so) then I would suggest coming to some kind of an agreement, like using frozen meats you can cook on a BBQ to limit how involved you need to be - but that is ONLY if she is physically unable to do it herself. If she has a disability it isn't fair that she have no say in her own diet, but I didn't see any indication in your post that this is about anything other than what she WANTS.

I wouldn't cook her meat just to keep the peace, only if it is the only way she has of getting the food she likes to eat. When I visit my in-laws I don't expect them to prepare me felafel while they eat hamburgers, but if I was injured or had a physical disability, I sure hope that they would at least go out and buy me a package of frozen veggie burgers. For now I just offer to make the side dishes and make sure that there is always something nutritionally balanced I can eat.

As far as educating her goes, I would think it is only worth trying if she is at all interested. I find people just get their backs up if I talk about health/food related matters if they aren't seeking out other information or opinions. I suppose I do the same thing when my MIL tries to educate me about her beliefs about food. Or health. Or many other things
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My mother does not like to cook and I do. Several years ago I offered to cook since I saw how much stress it was creating for her during our family times at the cottage. She was reluctant to give up control at first but then really enjoyed not having the responsibility.

My mom can cook - she just doesn't like to. She is also in her late seventies and not so adept in the kitchen. She is living on her own and her diet makes me cringe - lot of processed, salty foods and very few vegetables and fruits.
If she cooked we'd be eating Stouffer's lasagna, Gorton's fish sticks, and iceberg lettuce salads.

I think she will balk if I ask her to cook her own meat. It is her house but I'll be buying the groceries. My sisters may contribute financially and may offer to cook a couple meals. My mom still wants control to some degree.
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it sounds from what you describe, that this is less about eating/preparing meat and more about your mother's need to control.

i would just let it go, and cook your wonderful, delicious and nutritious vegetarian meals. if someone has a problem with it, they can shop, prepare, cook and eat their own meat if they want to.

the sight of uncooked meat makes me gag and i don't think i could touch it, no less deal with it to create some type of meal. i am the main chef in our house, and even though dh and all of his friends are omni, they all honor my vegism and never expect me to cook something with meat in it for them. if dh wants to provide burgers for himself and his carnivorous buddies, he gets it and cooks it himself (thank goodness!!!) and does not expect me to deal with the meat at all, including the clean up part of it.

i hope you have a great time, and hope that this does not end up being a source of stress for you!
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Oh, with your follow-up I can really see why this is a tough situation. That's got to be hard for her, and hard for you to accomodate while still respecting your principles.
Well, with the situation you describe, if she's happy eating Stauffer's meals, why not let her make them for herself while you cook for you and your family?
well, the first thing that i would do is try to find a local source of meat that you can live with. i do this whenever i go anywhere, even to other continents. it's not terribly difficult to find sources--the Weston A Price foundation often has great listings for the US, Canada, and many other places.

beyond this, you could always refuse to cook these things, stating that you're more than happy to make vegetarian 'sides' for everyone to enjoy--but that your mother or sisters can cook the meat. i don't think that there's anything wrong with this refusal--you're still participating in the cooking duties.

good luck to you!
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