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Vegetarians and Meat-Eaters Unite at Dinnertime


By +Carolyn Richardson on Jan 28, 2011 10:00 AM in Recipes

By Carolyn Richardson

Cooking for two becomes quite a challenge when there are different palates involved.  If your family wants chicken, and you’re a vegetarian, it can be hard to satisfy everyone with one cook.  But, where there’s a will there’s a way, and so start with a few basic rules to keep everyone happy at dinner time.

Something in Common

Most meat eaters have vegetarian elements in each of their meals.  Be it cheese in the mashed potatoes or chili sans the carne, chances are you can find a few foods that everyone can enjoy.  A Thai Peanut Pasta dish with tofu works for the vegetarian, while boneless skinless chicken chunks fill the bill for the rest.  Most pasta dishes, like spaghetti with sauce and lasagna, can be made to satisfy the vegetarian in ways that meat-lovers will like.  Another example is Mexican food.  Condiments, veggies and meats can be prepared for tacos and burritos to feed everyone.  And, as a matter of course, toss nuts and seeds into the salad and anywhere else they'll fit.

Meat Substitutes

While you may not want to convert your whole family to vegetarianism, it would be nice if everyone could eat a vegetarian meal once a week.  Not only does it introduce them to new foods, but it also allows you to cook one dish for all.  Instead of chicken quesadillas, try plantain quesadillas.  Plantains are flavorful and filling and will add a sweet twist to the usual.  Add TVP (textured vegetable protein) burger crumbles to the American Chop Suey.  Bake a fritata or barbecue vegetarian sausages and grill corn on the cob to spice up a Saturday afternoon.  Be creative and have fun with it.  The more foods you find through not eating meat, the more varied and healthy your dinners will become.

Vegetarians Eat First

Vegetarians cannot live on vegetables alone.  They need to focus on getting enough protein, iron, calcium, zinc, and vitamin B12 by eating foods like beans, lentils, soy products, eggs, or milk and cheese.  The vegetarian always needs a veggie burger to throw on the grill or a fully cooked meal in the fridge to reheat at dinner time.  With that base established, the vegetarian can then share parts of the meat-eaters meal.   Vegetarians in general, and vegetarian children specifically, should always drink cow’s milk or soy milk with meals to boost their protein intake.  Chose soy milk that is fortified with calcium and vitamin B12 to get enough of those scarce nutrients.  Almond milk and rice milk, even when enriched, do not contain enough protein for growing kids.


Your thoughts....

Do you know a vegetarian living with a meat-eater?  How do they manage?



Comments


I'm a vegetarian living with meat-eaters. People make too big a deal of how to feed people of different diets. I cook one meal and just omit the meat for myself. There is always a big salad on the table with any meal and a couple other side dishes. As far as the soy milk goes, vegetarians should actually try to limit their soy intake. Try getting those vital nutrients elsewhere. Raw almonds are never in short supply in our house and the whole family snacks on them (excellent calcium and protein source.) I use rice milk for my cereal and tea while my daughter drinks both rice milk and cows' milk. Vegetarians should also take a vitamin B12 supplement. Although we can store huge amounts of excess B12 in our bodies, after a year or two of not getting enough B12, problems can start to arise. So taking a supplement is the best bet.

Pretty much every single meal you can think of can be made to satisfy both vegetarians and meat eaters. Just prepare them in a way that makes it easy to add or omit meat: tacos, pastas with salmon or chicken that can be left plain for vegetarians, fajitas with chicken and veggie options, a mix of chicken breasts and veggie burgers with salad and fruit, etc etc. It's really very easy to make it work. My husband is incapable of going a single meal without meat and we get by just fine. I just cook his meat separately and then he adds it to his plate. My daughter picks what she does and doesn't want to eat (she's 4) and that's that. We all sit together at the table and fill our plates from the same serving dishes.



Well I'm a pescetarian and I'm sorry, but I don't cook meat.  I cannot stand the smell of semi-raw chicken and I can't even look at raw beef.  (I don't cook seafood either, but I will buy it already cooked from time to time and eat it- this isn't very often, as seafood is expensive in the landlocked state of New Mexico.)  My daughter is not forced to live by my choices, but I have neither the time nor the money to cook separate for each of us, so the rule is, what I make, she eats, and when we go out to eat, or she's at other people's houses, or at school, she can choose to eat meat options and that's okay by me.  But I grew up in the old school, where what your parents made is what you ate, and by golly, that's the rule at my table, too!

Honestly, she doesn't even miss the meat.  She's gotten to where she prefers veggie burgers to hamburgers, and she eats veggie pizza without complaint because she knows she can have a slice of meat lover's when she's at grandma's.  Her discerning palate has already figured out that the meat in the school cafeteria tastes 'fake' and she no longer cares for it, so she chooses the non-meat options most times more for the taste factor than for any health reason.  She may never choose to be a pescetarian or a vegetarian herself but I know she's eating healthy at least 75-80% of the time and that's good enough for me.  Besides, she's more likely to continue making healthy choices when she doesn't feel forced.  Yes, she doesn't have a choice at home, but then, it's a kitchen, not a restaurant, and there's no menu hanging up on the wall in there.  If I started catering to her by cooking her meat when that's not what's for dinner, then where do you draw the line?  Do I make her something different because she just doesn't like the dish, or because she hates peas, or she's just in the mood for something else?  No, I don't think so.  When we were kids we were taught that the law of averages dictated we wouldn't like what was for supper every single night, but that there would be nights that we would like it, and we just had to bite our tongue and eat what was on the table and when it was something we did like we should be quite verbal in our praise, because Mum was much more likely to respond to positive feedback than whining!



I'm a vegetarian married to a meat eater, my eldest daughter won't eat meat, but my younger 2 would eat sandwich meat, or the odd weekend fry-up with bacon and sausages. During the week all meals I cook are vegetarian using predominantly Quorn products, but sometimes chickpeas or lentils. My husband is happy enough with this set-up, if we dine out or order Indian take-out he will have meat, or if I make him a packed lunch I'll use sandwich meat. It's no inconvenience, and I think my kids will eventually take the vegetarian route in life, I of course will support them too, as will my husband, despite him being a meat-eater. Other people or family members say we (my kids and I) have "issues" with food. But I dont think so, I think those people have "issues" with us not eating meat.



I'm a vegetarian living with a family of meat-eaters.  While I cook meat for them, I refuse to buy typical grocery store factory-farmed products.  Our compromise has been locally-raised, organic meat, eggs and dairy.  Through research, we have found and visited our chicken farmer, understand their practices and have seen the open, safe conditions in which their chickens live.  We've also been fortunate enough to find a local beef farmer (grass-fed, organic, humanely-raised, etc.).  Initially concerned about cost, we've found that buying directly from the source results in not only a better quality product, but cheaper prices (than, say, Whole Foods (though I am a huge fan of WF)).  As for the prep aspect, I also try not to make multiple meals.  This usually results in sides we can all share (steamed or roasted veggies, brown rice, pasta, a base salad) with meat for them and a veggie burger or beans for me, or I will make a meatless meal everyone likes, like potato-chick pea curry or pasta with spinach and white beans.  Vegetarianism is a great excuse for trying new ethnic cuisines, and my family has developed a few favorites (especially Indian).  While I would love for my boys to eventually adopt a vegetarian lifestyle, buying locally and getting involved with the buying process means that my boys understand where their food comes from - something they might not get otherwise.



I was strictly vegetarian for almost a month out of curiousity, my boyfriend was supportive and let me cook us both meatless meals or like others have mentioned, he'd just add meat to whatever was being cooked for himself after I got some. I went back to eating meat like I normally did but now, seeing as I don't like meat as much as some people and that I actually was fine on a vegetarian diet that I'm planning on being mostly vegetarian, My meals will mostly consist of veggies with meat as a side in small amounts. Fish will be eaten more too. 

Point is, It's not too hard to cater to someone who eats meat when you don't as long as they're supportive and don't mind giving you room to fix your plate for yourself. Going back to a mostly vegetarian diet will mean having to work with my boyfriend again so we can both get what we want. 



I am vegetarian (and I eat dairy only once or twice per week) and my wife is an omnivore. It has never been an issue for us. I do most of the cooking, and she mostly eats what I eat. If she feels like having meat one night I'll gladly cook it for her, and when she does cook, she happily makes my part of the meal first, and then adds cheeses / meats to hers afterwards.



Wow.  The first post was from a pragmatic vegetarian.  Great balanced post tirzhaz!  I was expecting more along the lines of the holier-than-though vegetarian like pushbuttonkitty. 

Sorry, human beings are omnivores.  If you want to be a vegetarian in a family of omnivores, you should be the one to adapt. 



There are a lot of choices if you are trying to feed both vegetarians and meat eater.  As suggested in the article, there are meals you can make that will please everyone, such as minestrone, lentil soup, or homemade pizza,  calzones or tacos with toppings and fillings that vary according to preference. 

For vegetarians (not vegans) who eat dairy products, you can make a cheesy lasagna, Reuben sandwiches without the corned beef, or French onion fondue, using a vegetable stock instead of beef bouillion in the soup.

Here is a link to some recipes that may help, Recipes  and some stories about being a vegetarian in a meat-eating world. Vegetarian Stories.

As the chief-cook-and-bottle-washer in my home, I like to be sure that everyone has a meal they can enjoy without making any jusdgements about their lifestyle choices.  There is room for everyone at the table!



I've been trying to become a vegan.  Giving up meat & chicken is easy.  However, I love coffee.  I have coffee with every meal.  The hardest thing is giving up a little milk in my coffee.  Are there any suggestions from the vegans?

I like learning more about enjoying life without meat.  It's certainly better for the environment & more humane.  I would enjoy more questions  & comments involving vegan & vegetarian lifestyles.



Interesting comments.  I'm a vegetarian and my boyfriend is not.  We don't live together yet, but, of course, eat together frequently.  He enjoys my cooking and when he cooks he makes food I'll enjoy as well and it hasn't been an issue.

I know I will never be cooking meat in my future but I'm not so unreasonable to say it can't be cooked in my home by someone else.  I actually have never thought about needing to add meat into a stiry fry, pasta dish or a mexican meal.  My bf enjoys them just as much without.  I assume we'll continue on as we do now - he'll order meat when eating out and maybe cook for himself from time to time.



Original Post by: cynsop

I've been trying to become a vegan.  Giving up meat & chicken is easy.  However, I love coffee.  I have coffee with every meal.  The hardest thing is giving up a little milk in my coffee.  Are there any suggestions from the vegans?

I like learning more about enjoying life without meat.  It's certainly better for the environment & more humane.  I would enjoy more questions  & comments involving vegan & vegetarian lifestyles.


I use calcium fortified soy milk. At first I was not crazy about it, but now the tables have turned and I can barely stomach cow milk. I buy high quality freshly ground coffee because the soy milk enhances the flavor. My health food store also sells various types of non-dairy milk-type drinks made from rice, kamut, almond, and oatmeal. I prefer soy, and apparently the others do not have calcium.



Original Post by: ds1973

Wow.  The first post was from a pragmatic vegetarian.  Great balanced post tirzhaz!  I was expecting more along the lines of the holier-than-though vegetarian like pushbuttonkitty. 

Sorry, human beings are omnivores.  If you want to be a vegetarian in a family of omnivores, you should be the one to adapt. 


It's true that we are by nature omnivores but by being so we can truly get by with little meat. We are mostly a plant based creature because if you notice, people who eat meat all the time, at every meal tend to be less healthier. That's why I think that even if pushbuttonkitty isn't cooking meals with meat that her daughter has adapted to eating those meals and it's really okay also it's probably better that she's getting all the other foods that we need the most. I'm not anti meat but I do conclude that we could get by with less. 

After taking my nutrition class I learned that American's eat the most meat then the rest of the world and as we spend more on health care it's fairly clear that we need to be less concerned about meat anyway and work on being true omnivores by eating varieties of food. 



The new ultimate veggie, "fiddleheads" have:

- twice the antioxidant activity of blueberries.

- a non-marine source of Omega 3 and Omega 6.

iron, fibre, potassium, niacin, riboflavin, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamins A and C.

They are nutritious and delicious. Fiddleheads are available fresh from end of April until mid-June. Frozen fiddleheads can be provided year round (fantastic for a fiddlehead vichyssoise).

Check out this site for amazing recipes: http://www.norcliff.com/index.php/recipe1/



I'm a pesca, but don't really cook seafood in my place other than the occasional shrimp dumpling. I live with my boyfriend, and he's totally fine with eating vegetarian dinners. He keeps sandwich meat in the fridge for himself, and gets meat-based foods when we go out to eat or when we get delivery. He'll eat pretty much anything, so i'm lucky in that regard.

when I lived with my parents as a teenager and became vegetarian, I started cooking for myself (and my family, if they would eat what i was cooking!) 8 years later, my mom is finally buying vegetarian cookbooks and experimenting when i come visit. it's always much appreciated.



"The vegetarian always needs a veggie burger to throw on the grill or a fully cooked meal in the fridge to reheat at dinner time."

Always? No, not really. Having a fully-cooked meal ready to reheat is a great time-saver at the end of a busy work day, but saying that vegetarians always need a veggie burger or reheatable meal is too much of a generalization. It's no more difficult to cook a high quality vegetarian/vegan meal than it is to cook a high quality omni one.

And let's be honest, an optimal diet of any persuasion should not be based on processed and commercially-bought foods such as veggie burgers and other "ready to eat" items; any nutritionist or dietitian will tell you that. Fresh, wholesome meals are always the best way to go.


also, veggie burgers freak me out if they're going to be cooked right next to the meat and handled with the same utensils. ick!



Original Post by: ds1973

Wow.  The first post was from a pragmatic vegetarian.  Great balanced post tirzhaz!  I was expecting more along the lines of the holier-than-though vegetarian like pushbuttonkitty. 

Sorry, human beings are omnivores.  If you want to be a vegetarian in a family of omnivores, you should be the one to adapt. 


holier than thou?  i'm not even a vegetarian!  go back and read that post.  i have no problem with people who want to eat meat, i just choose not to cook it because i don't like the way it smells and i don't feel the need to make a special meal for meat eaters that's separate from the meal i'm making for myself.  i buy the food, i cook the food, and anyone else in my household wants to buy their own food and cook it then more power to them.  i'm in a household of two, and since the other is a minor i don't really see why i should be making concessions.



I am a vegan and when I first switched I was able to cook meat foods for a short time for my husband. But as time went by it became more difficult. #1 because I realized exactly what I was cooking was pretty gruesome and ethically cruel #2 after some time it was repulsive smelling to me.

After a smoker quits smoking at first the smoke smells good and then it starts to smell very nasty because the smoke is really poisonous. I experienced the same after removing animal flesh and excretions from my meals.

To make a long story short. My husband came to realize the truth about animal derived, flesh and excretions and he adjusted his diet appropriately.

In regards to our classification as "omnivores" That is a self proclaimed analysis which can be hotly debated. B-12 is a bacteria that can be derived from fermented plants. Calcium, iron and protein also are plentiful in plant foods.   The healthful ness of a plant based diet is validated by the American Dietetic Association.
http://www.eatright.org/about/content.aspx?id=8357

There's really nothing that we need that can not be derived from plants. When I look at my hands and my teeth.... and inside my heart. I know feel I have made the most "natural" choice to be humane.



i am technically a vegetarian and my partner is technically not, but we find that it's just fine to eat together. he's actually taken a liking to tofu, and we both enjoy curries, baked beans, chilis, and eggs. we sometimes have meat at home, but it's fine most days just eating beans, tofu, etc.

the key thing is learning how to cook vegetarian meals deliciously, which admittedly takes a lot of practice. we've tried incorporating "meat flavours" into bean dishes, like adding montreal steak spice and worchestershire sauce to lentils, and replacing sliced beef in a recipe with sliced mushrooms and tempeh. just go with flavours that you like, and you can't go wrong. the plus side, is that many vegetarian options are cheaper than meats (eggs, lentils, beans) and also quicker to prepare (don't need to defrost, debone and trim the fat from a can of beans!).

i agree with pushbutton kitty as well, we grew up having to eat what was on the table, and that's the way my partner and i cook. no sense in making a separate meal for each person, if you can make one thing that everyone can eat.

my partner usually chooses a meat option for his lunch at work and when we go to restaurants, and occasionally at home (i'll cook him a steak for special occasions), so i don't think he feels too hard done by. however, being open to my cooking methods, he sometimes chooses vegetarian options while we're out, simply because he likes them better. i think it's a good experience for meat eaters to be open minded and try veggie options, you never know, you might just loooovvve tofu pad thai.



My brother became a vegetarian in his teen years. My mother would make a lot of vegetarian options and we had veggie burgers and other vegetarian meals in the freezer at all times for him and anyone else who wanted them. I was much younger then him, and didn't understand why he would want to be a vegetarian, but now I understand, and I could eat vegetarian food 6 out of 7 times a week.

It was difficult for my mom at first. Feeding a family of meat lovers as well as one vegetarian we very difficult, especially because I don't eat seafood at all, so there were very few meals she could make that the whole family would eat. Salads and pasta got old fast, but she started reading vegetarian cook books and found interesting things that everyone could enjoy. She got creative with tofu and meatless 'meat', as well as made meals with meat in them, but substituting mushrooms or beans for my brother.

Once my brother left for Collage, we continued eating vegetarian options because they were delicious and healthy. So I think everyone could eat vegetarian meals if they looked around and tried different options to see what everyone would like. You just have to have an open mind.



Original Post by: trishhaveman

"The vegetarian always needs a veggie burger to throw on the grill or a fully cooked meal in the fridge to reheat at dinner time."

Always? No, not really. Having a fully-cooked meal ready to reheat is a great time-saver at the end of a busy work day, but saying that vegetarians always need a veggie burger or reheatable meal is too much of a generalization. It's no more difficult to cook a high quality vegetarian/vegan meal than it is to cook a high quality omni one.

And let's be honest, an optimal diet of any persuasion should not be based on processed and commercially-bought foods such as veggie burgers and other "ready to eat" items; any nutritionist or dietitian will tell you that. Fresh, wholesome meals are always the best way to go.

Who said the veggie burgers have to be processed or store bought? I love homemade veggie burgers. They are really good, and lots of recipies can be found online. Most of them can be frozen as well.

This is one of the recipes I've tried, It does include eggs so it is not vegan friendly.

http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/homemade-black-bean-veggie-bur gers/Detail.aspx

Happy Eating! :)



Both my hubby and I are meat eaters but we have many vegetarian meals becasue we like different cuisines, and sometimes, we prefer to eat lighter.  Toasted or grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup is a classic example, and PB & J is, too although sometimes it's jelly with cream cheese.  We like all types of beans, lentils, peas and other legumes, and I make great soups and stews with veggies, bulgar, quinoa, and split peas, etc. 

Sometimes we add meat, chicken or fish/seafood - sometimes not.  We often eat deviled eggs or omelets for dinner, or pancakes, or cereal.  I've been known to mix quinoa with almond butter and almond milk and call it a night.  We have portabella mushrooms grilled instead of burgers, and tofu is a staple in my cupboard.  When I began dieting I learned quickly that I could have 3 or 4 oz of tofu in place of 1 oz of meat.  Hey - I learned to love the stuff fast!  I even blend it with diet jello to give myself something extra for a low cal dessert. 

We eat lots of salads because the stuff is grown commercially in our community - we live in the Salad Bowl capital of the world - and add nuts & cheeses & fake bacon bits sometimes, too.  I could sub spaghetti squash with spaghetti sauce and no meat for the rest of my life if I had a big sprinkle of parmesan cheese.  Now, you are never going to find an alternative to a nice thick slice of prime rib but by eating more vegetarian meals, we are less likely to face health issues from the once a year indulgences.  And as someone else notes, it can be cheaper and more fun trying new foods. 

So I think that everyone can be m but I wouldn't necessarily want to prepare meat for someone else if my reasons for not eating it have more to do with not wanting to kill animals.  Me personally, I pay for the cow to eat the vegetables on my behalf so I don't have to, but am willing to eat some of them myself, and if I truly love the person I live with, I would make some concessions.  That's what dining out is for - everyone at the table can get what they want, and no one has to cook or clean up afterward.



Eat whatever foods satisfy the nutrients you need.  God made mankind, and they can eat meat.  Since God has no problem with meat eathing, neither should we.  It's only the "eating meat is a sin" veggies that are severly misled.  It's up to the veggies to make their own special meals, not the other way around.  Veggietarians are responsible for their odd diet and should not expect everyone else to bow down to veggie tastes.



Original Post by: wifi92

Eat whatever foods satisfy the nutrients you need.  God made mankind, and they can eat meat.  Since God has no problem with meat eathing, neither should we.  It's only the "eating meat is a sin" veggies that are severly misled.  It's up to the veggies to make their own special meals, not the other way around.  Veggietarians are responsible for their odd diet and should not expect everyone else to bow down to veggie tastes.


I wonder if eating meat causes spelling errors....



Original Post by: pushbuttonkitty

Original Post by: wifi92

Eat whatever foods satisfy the nutrients you need.  God made mankind, and they can eat meat.  Since God has no problem with meat eathing, neither should we.  It's only the "eating meat is a sin" veggies that are severly misled.  It's up to the veggies to make their own special meals, not the other way around.  Veggietarians are responsible for their odd diet and should not expect everyone else to bow down to veggie tastes.


I wonder if eating meat causes spelling errors....


actually, nevermind, because that was a bit holier than thou- i should really stop letting people pull me down to their level because nobody has to justify what they eat or choose not to eat to anyone else.



My husband and I have been married 5 years now; I have a 9 year old daughter from a previous marriage, and 2 young children 3 years and under.

My husband has been at least vegetarian the whole time (vegan, for the last 2 years) , even preceding us getting married, while we were dating.

In the beginning when my husband and I were dating, he would buy my oldest daughter and I ice creams/cotton candies, cook us meat, take us out to restaurants and have no qualms about us eating whatever we wanted.

But honestly, as he has become a more committed vegan and we have 2 young children together, it feels as if it was "a bait and switch."

I love vegan food. I really truly do, and my diet is 99% vegan at home. I make vegan stirfrys, vegan mac n cheese, vegan tacos, vegan tofu & carrot wontons, vegan pancakes- you name it and my husband and I have cooked it  and these are all really awesome tasting foods.

But the only thing I dislike is how an issue such as food has turned itself into a bigger issue than it has to be. I feel we make an impact, which is important for my husband, by saying with our food dollars that we use 99% of our food dollars on non meat foods. The only thing I am not content with is his 100% attitude.

Quotes from my husband:  Speaking to grandma, Grandma dropping off kids   : "I know you probably didn't know but these crackers have milk in them. It says  'lactylate' in the ingredients.  Grandma says, "Sorry, we didn't know."

"Hunny don't give the kids that non dairy yogurt at Yougurt Creations. That one kind has carmine in it. That's crushed bugs."

Speaking to my 9 year old, "Make sure you wash your hands after you eat that dead chicken. Arrg, don't touch the gate."

Me speaking to my husband, "YOu do realize she needs to touch the bathroom door handle innorder to get to the sink."

Husband, "Uh yeah be careful."

 

Point is I could go on and on with these comments. And advice to others who are in a relationship with a meat eater or vegan / vegetarian, don't drive your spouse crazy trying to be the most strict vegetarian as possible, especially if  they're the one caring for the both of yours vegetarian kids.  



I am a vegetarian, my husband is not. People can be healthy on diets that do and do not include meats.  We both have favorite dishes in common and favorites that the other won't touch, no big deal.

The only problem I have is with "carnivores" or "veggies" who will not respect the fact that other people make different decisions than they would. I no more want to hear a vegan lecture and unwilling audience on the evils of meat than I want someone to spike my food with porkfat. (Which, by the way, makes me violently ill as I do not process animal proteins well.)

If we are hosting a group of people that includes meat eaters, we always ensure that there is an entree available that will please them, but will also have plenty of veggie dishes for everyone as well.  If I am the guest of a meat-eater, I expect that the host will be considerate enough to ensure that I have something to eat;  I don't expect a full vegetarian meal, but how hard is it to have a few meatless sides?  It's a matter of simple respect. 



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