“You’re a vegetarian? … Oh.”
It’s a disappointed mutter heard on first dates all around the country. And it makes me want to pull my hair out.
As a vegetarian that was single for quite awhile before I met my wonderful meat-eater of a guy, I found myself at the receiving end of this weird sort of prejudice a handful of times.
I know there are reasons behind why omnivores might not want to take up with vegetarians and vice versa. But, the fact is, more and more people are going meatless, and that trend is likely to continue. And you know what? I’m here to tell you that, as a vegetarian living with a meat-eater, it’s not that bad. At all. In fact, it can be fun. I promise! My guy would say the same thing.
Yes, of course, it is absolutely your prerogative to make diet a deal-breaker. You know what’s most important to you when it comes to how you spend your time and the people you spend your time with, especially if you’re particularly passionate about your view.
But who knows – you may already be married to your loved one when he opts to go vegan or she decides it’s time to to throw red meat to the curb. Regardless of how you find yourself in this situation, living the multi-vore life really is easier than you may think.
In my experience, it boils down to three things: having an open mind, being willing to compromise a bit, and doing a little creative thinking.
Open your mind
It comes down to this: you don’t have to understand one another’s choices to respect them. Honestly, I pretty much think meat and seafood are disgusting. My guy feels the exact same way about tofu. We silently acknowledge our differences, we move past it, and we move on, together. No preaching, no trying to convert. I don’t give him grief over eating meat, and he doesn’t lasciviously wave bacon in front of my face.
Okay, okay, I admit that during a weak moment, I did recently text “poor little lamby” when my guy requested I bring home a gyro from our favorite Greek restaurant. And, a couple of months ago, when I asked my guy what he did to make a batch of oatmeal so delicious, he jokingly replied, “bacon grease.” But we’re several years into this and we’ve established that base of mutual respect. If we do decide to go there occasionally with one another, it’s generally pretty safe.
As a vegetarian, you might have a tough time knowing meat has been cooked in the same skillet as your beloved salt and pepper tofu. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you must banish meat from your kitchen. Consider compromising, if you can. Buy pans that you can sanitize in the dishwasher, or have two sets – one for meat and one meat will never, ever touch.
And if you’re a dedicated meat-eater, you may have never considered that a meatless dinner can be plenty satisfying. But why not give it a go once in awhile? My carnivorous guy’s advice: try that meatless dish your beloved vegetarian just prepared – even if you’re feeling a little dubious. Unless it’s “eggplant tofu bean sprout foo foo” (his exact words), it’s probably going to be worth the compromise. And who knows – you might just discover your new favorite dish didn’t even need the meat. Another point my guy makes: you may already eat more delicious vegetarian meals than you realized, without a second thought about the fact that they’re meatless. Mac and cheese, anyone?
It’s funny. These days, when I offer to add some sort of meat to an otherwise vegetarian dish for my guy, more often than not, he’ll decline. “Doesn’t need it,” he says. Conversely, sometimes all my guy wants for dinner is a big ol’ steak. I make up a side dish or two to go along with it, and make the sides my dinner. (And actually, loaded baked potatoes are all that.)
Most of us grew up with chicken or beef the cornerstone of every meal – it’s deeply ingrained that dinner must be built around the cut of meat you’ve chosen. Not so! There are so many ways to make a balanced meal that isn’t centered around meat.
Yes, vegetarian meals are often seen as restrictive because you can’t include meat. Consider, though, the world of possibilities that actually opens up when you don’t have to include that one single category of food – meat – in every single meal.
In our house, of course, meat still factors in. But it’s no longer the star of the show. Many of the recipes I make start out vegetarian, then I divide the dish and add meat to a portion toward the end of the process. Creating and sharing those recipes is one of the reasons Kitchen Treaty exists, but I think it’s easy to come up with these types of meals on your own. Try reading your next recipe a little differently – imagine substituting vegetarian ingredients, then adding meat at the end of the process. It’s doable with a gazillion different dishes – gazillion being an exact number, of course.
And you know what? Just go have some fun in the kitchen. Try a new meatless food or two. Hit the farmer’s market together, ask a few questions, bring that exotic vegetable home, break out the wine, cook it up together. Sounds like a wonderful second date to me.
In fact, you might just find that dating a vegetarian didn’t close off your options – it did quite the opposite. It opened up a whole new world.
Are you a multi-vore family? Leave a comment below to share how you make it work. :: Learn more about vegetarianism and veganism (Vegetarian Resource Group) :: Get the creative juices flowing by reading this story about how to make almost any meal meatless (Oh My Veggies) :: Go shop for cheap and corny stock photography, like what I used above. It’s more fun than you might think!
We are a mixed-ovore fam. I’m vegetarian, and neither my wife or kid are. BUT, i’m the one who does the cooking and I’m not a fan of cooking meat at all, so everyone is pretty much veg when we eat at home (which is most nights). On the weekends, my kiddo goes to his dad’s and eats plenty of meat. And if we go out to restaurants, they are both welcome to order whatever they want. My wife says she doesn’t miss meat and actually prefers the things I cook to the overly-meaty foods she was used to. She says she has felt much healthier in the last 4 years of being mostly vegetarian than she ever had in the past.
I love this post! Although I have to admit, I’ve had it easy–my husband didn’t eat meat when we met. I’m pretty sure it would have been a phase for him (we met in high school, after all), but the fact that I don’t eat or prepare meat kind of made that phase permanent. 🙂
I’m a vegetarian and my husband is a “almost” vegan. It’s a more recent thing and it’s SO hard. I love eggs and cheese and I couldn’t give them up. It’s definitely about compromise and being patient. Now i just make a lot of his stuff sans dairy and keep extra cheese for me!
Ha – extra cheese is always a good thing! 😉 It seems like it’s harder to make the transition to veganism than vegetarianism – eggs, cheese, and dairy are in nearly everything, it’s crazy.
I used to think I could never give up cheese. And most vegetarians are always met with residence from meat eaters that say they could never give up meat. But if you’re vegetarian for health or ethics, veganism is the only path to take. I encourage all vegetarians who are in it for ethics to watch “dairy is scary” on YouTube. All dairy is unethical. Plus there are tons of vegan cheeses out there that are delicious and don’t come with added health repercussions.
Great post! No one in our house is even 100% vegetarian, but I eat very little meat where my hubby eats considerably more. I have convinced him on a few vegetarian meals, and nights that I don’t want to have meat I’ve found it easy to make sides my main meal like you mentioned or even to make myself a vegetarian “main” while he has meat. It’s totally possible to keep everyone happy 🙂
Without too much extra work too!
We are a mixed family, too! We make it work a lot like you do, I think — hubby eats mostly vegetarian at home, but he sometimes cooks meat and he orders meat when we go out. Honestly, if you cook mostly veggie-centric meals, which we do, it’s not that hard. I don’t think he misses meat at all, and he gets plenty of opportunities to have it if he wants.
Thanks for making this post gender-neutral (and I loved the stock photography). I get really frustrated with other blogs that are like “YOUR MAN LOVES MEAT” or “Look how cool I am, eating meat with the menfolk!” (For the record, I eat mostly vegetarian these days and keep company with pescetarians and vegetarians of both sexes.) Also, great article in general!
Thank you so much, Leah! Yeah, I was kind of excited when I found the corny photo of the gal sneering – like *he’s* the one who just declared his vegetarianism. Hey, it happens! 😉
Definitely! Of my coupled friends, I have some friends where the husband is vegetarian and the wife eats meat; another couple is a omnivore and her pescetarian girlfriend; another set had a vegan husband and (I think) vegetarian wife.
(If I may confess here: One of the “checks” I do when following a new blog is to see if/what the author has written about gender, because I find a lot of bloggers do the Pioneer Woman thing, like “I love ‘exotic’ food like sushi and cilantro and tofu, but my manly man just can’t with that girly food, needs him a man-meal with meat on meat with a side of meat!” When I find other feminist food bloggers who acknowledge that food isn’t gendered, it’s like Christmas–incredibly fun but comes but once a year.)
We’re a mixed couple, but I’m vegan and he’s vegetarian. He made the switch from omni after we’d been dating for a while (not from my urging, I swear! He’s not the kind of person you can direct. haha), first as a trial thing and then permanently.
I do almost all the cooking and he’s fine with our vegan meals. Occasionally he’ll add cheese or sour cream to something, and he’ll eat eggs and dairy when we’re out at a restaurant or at someone else’s house, but it’s really not a challenge for us.
I imagine it would be much harder to live together if he decided to eat meat again, because I’m pretty ardently against the stuff and we’d probably end up with a kosher-style kitchen to keep it all segregated!
I love this blog!! I am a vegetarian and my husband is a meat-lover. However, I do ALL of the cooking so he basically eats whatever I make and loves it. We order what we want when we go out to eat, and lunch is on his own, so he gets plenty of meat in his diet.
Sometimes, he gets a little annoyed that most of the meals I make contain carbs (pasta, quinoa, rice, couscous, etc.), but I do try to make everything whole wheat/whole grain. I try find vegetarian recipes that aren’t so carb heavy but it isn’t easy. Anyone else have this problem?
I’m a bit late to the party, but I’m a low-carb person and a lot of carb substitutes are vegetarian-friendly. Try looking up spaghetti squash “spagehetti” or zucchini “lasagna” or cauliflower “rice”–they’re not quite like the real thing, but they’re low-carb, vegetarian, and tasty.
I keep meaning to try cauliflower rice! I bet it’s divine. Thank you for sharing! 🙂
In the past, I dated guys who were vegetarian. Most guys were pretty understanding, but a few were sooooo preachy about me being a vegetarian. They did not have an open mind at all. It was so frustrating. They’d lecture me about nutrition, but really…I was healthier than they were! I find a lot of people support vegetarianism, but some people get irate when I mention I’m a veggie. My fiancé had been a vegetarian 6 months when I met him. It’s really nice being with a vegetarian, as we can share food. And well, I’ve never cooked meat in my life, so it help that he likes his veggies! *hahaha* Dating a meat eater is definitely do able though! As long as they are open-minded and so are you 🙂
I grew up in a multivore family. Dad became a vegetarian when he was 18 and Mama is an omnivore (which, incidentally, means I’m very out-of-step with a lot of stereotypes about vegetarianism. For instance, I’m always kind of surprised when I run into a female vegetarian–when I think of vegetarians I think of my dad, and he’s a dude!). It was important to our parents that we kids experience a variety of things and make decisions that are best for us, our bodies, and our beliefs, and that conviction extended to food, so we ate meat or meatless meals depending on what we felt like eating. It was never an issue and while my parents divorced after 25 years of marriage, it definitely wasn’t over food.
We kids aren’t vegetarian now that we’re approaching our mid-20s (my brother never wanted to be, I’ve tried repeatedly and it doesn’t work for my body, much to my disappointment. I have a lot of support from Dad and saw a nutritionist and I’m just not as healthy when I’m not eating meat), but we definitely view cooking and eating differently from kids not raised in multivore households, and were often praised by other kids’ parents for being “adventurous” eaters. Dad cooked and ate tofu and eggplant and zucchini and brussel sprouts, so we did, too!
Because our dad is vegetarian we were exposed to a lot of different and satisfying ways to prepare and eat vegetables, so we view meat as an ingredient in meals rather than a cornerstone, and can cook veggies with the best of them. My fiance likes to call his mom, who is a meat-and-potatoes kind of lady, and shock her with the kind of vegetable I just cooked and how delicious it was. My brother had a vegetarian lady-friend and she bragged to her vegetarian friends about how she had a boyfriend who knew how to cook delicious meatless meals for her. It’s definitely been a great experience for us.
Both of our parents encouraged us in however we chose to eat so long as we had thought it through and found it consistent with our goals and beliefs. Personally, I realized why I wanted to be vegetarian was out of a concern for animal welfare, but I’m not particularly bothered by eating animals so long as they’re raised and slaughtered humanely. I buy local meat and animal products raised in farms that encourage you to drop by whenever and check in on the animals you’re going to eat. I know they are happy when they’re alive and are killed quickly and humanely, and that’s what’s important to me. By talking to my parents about food and their very different beliefs about food, I was able to determine what my beliefs were and what way of eating makes me comfortable. I feel like that’s a huge gift, and feel blessed my parents worked hard to compromise on their different ways of eating and let us figure out what how we wanted to eat.
I completely agree that it’s not just possible to compromise in the kitchen, and I think it’s enriching for everyone!
Thank you so much for sharing this, Rebecca! It is so great to see the situation from your perspective, growing up in a mixed-diet home. I hope to set the example for my daughter that your parents set for you.
So glad I found this blog! My husband is a vegetarian and I’m a meat-eater. We used to do pretty well with preparing our own foods, but now that we have our son, it’s gotten harder to make meal time inclusive (we’re raising our son omnivore, just to make things easier on me). We do already do some of things you mention, but it has been hard finding good ideas out there that will satisfy us both. My experience living with a vegetarian is kind of different from your husbands, in that I get very bored of eating vegetarian dishes and really think most vegetarian dishes could benefit from some meat. But what can you do? I can’t force my husband to take up meat again, and I wouldn’t want to. The biggest problem, though, is that I know so few people in our situation, that I feel like I have to defend the fact that we’re a multi-vore family whenever I mention that I eat meat and my husband doesn’t (people seem fine if a couple is one or the other, but not both). Looking forward to trying some of your recipes! Thank you!
I’m a full on carnivore, former restaurant chef, and have been in two LTR’s with vegetarians – neither of which failed due to food.
A couple of things I’ve learned:
Let vegetarian food be vegetarian food. A grilled portobello on a hamburger bun is a good sandwich, but it’s not a hamburger. Vegan cheesecake is an oxymoron. It’s annoying to try to pretend that something is is what it is not. That’s why I think fake meat is the worst of both worlds. Once, at a steak house where I cheffed, a two-top ordered a burger and a veggie burger and we were out of veggie burgers. Being a steak house, we didn’t have many veggie options, so I offered to make a grilled veggie sub. The lady heard me when I asked the server if she liked it and I got a two thumbs up from across the dining room. That sandwich went on the menu the next day.
Good vegetarian food shouldn’t need a substitute or apology for the meat. Look to long standing vegetarian cultures, like India, where there is no meat tradition to replace, for inspiration. There is no “hole in the plate” where meat used to be, and even when meat is used, it is often more of a condiment than center of the plate.
Learn to make vegetable stock. Stock is the cornerstone of a lot of great cooking and if you’re phoning it in by opening a can, you’re doomed from the start. Vegan French onion soup is possible.
Treat the meat like a side dish. A steak or a pork chop can be grilled quickly and added to any plate. For stews and chiles, meat can be braised separately and added later.
Hello everyone. I’ve been married for over 10 years to a serious “meatatarian” and have serious “meatarian” preteen kids. I was once a vegetarian in highschool for over a year, again for over a year a few year after marriage in my 20’s, and really want to transition back into being vegetarian/semi raw food. I truly love a meatless life style and hardly consume or crave meat. However, each time I attempted a veggie diet it was a challenge being the primary cook and/or pressure from family(mainly in highschool). I find myself getting burned out from cooking meat dishes for them and veggie or raw dishes for them. Often times they love my veggie dishes but got used to meat. I feel an aversion to preparing meat lately and now I’m doing more gradual changes: raw weekends, meatless/raw Wednesdays, and my goal is to be a semi raw foodist with vegetarian full time life style. Basically I want to stick with it this time as I am reaping the health benefits already, but feel a little frustrated.
Why are people so antagonistic when you tell them you’re going veg? I just don’t understand how MY decision about MY life, that affects NO ONE else deserves eye rolls and snide comments from people.
I am not 100% veg, but I’m getting there (trying to wean myself off of occasional seafood). My husband and teen kids are all meat eaters and I don’t know why they seem to have a problem with me going veg. I still force myself to BUY meat for them, HANDLE it, COOK it, and SERVE it to them…the entire process is a major source of disgust to me.
As a mom, like most moms, I think I have put myself last for SO long. So I have come to feel that if I can compromise enough to deal with doing this a few nights a week, they can compromise to have a few meatless meals each week. If they whine about it, I simply tell them “throw a slice of deli meat on top if you want.” I mean seriously…aren’t my needs as important as the rest of my family’s?
My wife just decided to go vegetarian out of the blue. It’s put a lot of stress in our relationship mainly because I love cooking and she hates it therefor I’m the main cook of of the house. I’m also a creature of habit so getting me to chance my ways is hard. but we are working on it.
Having just decided to go Vegetarian 5 yrs into a relationship with a highly food-oriented omnivore, this website may bethe little lifesaver I was looking for, Thank you so much, my, seemingly, minor decision will no longer be the catastrophic Armageddon he imagines.
unless you are already skilled in cooking you shouldn’t try to make variations or subtitutions. Any fiasco you meet in cooking is because a non-expert cook thought that this would taste with/in this.
I am a vegan and my husband eats meat. We joke around with each other a lot about our choices but it’s all in good fun. Ultimately we respect each others right to choose even if we disagree with said choice. I’m sad my husband eats meat and he thinks I’m a little crazy for not drinking milk or eating cheese but we still love each other. I do all the cooking in our home and I hate fooling with the meat but I do it cause I love him. He does compromise with me a lot though and will say “you know what sweetie I will take just the vegan meal tonight.” It’s not ideal to live in a mixed household But it is possible! I love my husband very much and I’d never change him. I understand me being a vegan is a personal moral choice and I can’t force him to make that.
My husband has just gone vegan and me and the kids are meat eaters. It’s so hard. I hate it and it’s driving a wedge between us ?
Ugh I’m so sorry. It can be hard depending on the other person’s reasons and how willing/able everyone is to compromise. For us I think it was easier because when my husband and I met, I was already a vegetarian. I’ve slowly moved to 95% plant-based (no more dairy) and it’s so much harder, just even meal-planning-wise, than when I was just vegetarian. Perhaps collecting an arsenal of a few go-to meals might help? Meatless chili can be SO good and your husband could eat it straight up while you and the kids could top with cheese, sour cream, etc. There are lots of great soups that can start out vegan then have some cooked shredded chicken stirred in for the meat-eaters (maybe a tortilla soup or a pasta e fagioli soup?) Pizza is another one that can be surprisingly flexible. For us, every Friday is pizza night and I whip up a vegan pizza (sometimes I use Daiya mozzarella shreds, sometimes not), my husband enjoys classic pepperoni, and our daughter has crust+cheese and that’s it. Burritos, tostadas, and soft tacos can all be made individually with beans, rice, and veggies then meat and/or cheese can be added to the non-vegans’ portions. Just a few ideas. Hang in there, the new normal will get easier!
So, under compromise, your advice to vegetarians is to get a different pan to use so there’s no chance of contamination. But your advice to meat eaters is basically to keep trying meatless dinners until hey presto you may just wean yourself off meat all together. That’s not compromise, that’s gradually changing your partner to your side. Not dissimilar to saying to a vegetarian hey, just try a little bit of meat every once in a while in your dish. Who knows, you might realise it’s not that bad?
I guess you can read that into my words if you really try. But I think it’s pretty clear my approach is not actually about ulterior motives. Vegetarians and omnivores usually come from quite different perspectives, so the types of compromise each might decide to make are not going to be exactly the same.
I’m a omnivore and my husband is a pescetarian. Both of us cook equal amounts in our household, which basically means that when he cooks, we pretty much always have fish, and when I cook, he has the meatless version of what I’m having. For us, its pretty easy, mainly because I actually prefer fish to meat anyway, but it does mean that when I cook we always have an extra pan to clean
I’m an animal lover and that’s the main reason why I’m vegetarian. my husband loves animals to but he isn’t vegetarian and he HATES vegetables. Cooking has become a problem for me because I should cook 2 different meals. My biggest issue is touching and cutting the meat and when I’m doing it I almost cry! I’m a house wife so cooking is my job and it’s not fair to ask him to cook for himself. Is there any solution for my problem?
Hi Mahan, thanks so much for writing. This is a tough one! I, too, prefer not to touch or cut meat and I, too, am the main cook in the house, though my husband does pitch in occasionally (actually he does pretty much all of the dishes, so more than occasionally!) I totally feel you – there are certain types/cuts of meat I just can’t bring myself to go near. Sometimes I will ask my husband to handle the raw meat – the cuts/stuff I find really hard to handle – and then I will do the rest. Like removing chicken breasts from the package – I sometimes have a hard time with that. During the summer, it works out great because he prefers to do the grilling, so cooking any meat is on him! I will also buy already-cooked meat like rotisserie chickens – so easy to just dice some up and add some to his portion.
Do you mind if I share your question on Facebook to see if anyone has any other suggestions?
I think this issue can be very touchy especially if the main reason you’re a vegetarian or vegan is because you believe eating animals is plain wrong. It’s completely unfair and disrespectful for someone who loves you to ask that person to buy the meat, touch it and cook it if it’s offensive. The person who wants the meat should cook it or eat it outside the home. For me, since I’m the one who buys the groceries and cooks then I decide what is served. If others don’t want to eat it then they’re free to make what they want. I don’t ridicule him for eating meat and he respects my views.
i honestly am one of the guys who just doesnt want a vegetarian partner. as you mentioned, more and more people are jumping on the vegetarian bandwagon. so meeting a girl who isnt vegetarian becomes increasingly difficult. i know it sounds prejudice, but i really just dont care for when a girl is vegetarian. its her choice and everything, but so is my choice on who i date. unlike some prejudices though, a person who chooses to become vegetarian does so out of choice. not because they were born that way. vegetarianism is a deal breaker for me. there wouldnt be a second date. first of all, i dont consider vegetarian diets to be healthier. i have known plenty of vegetarians who ended up with severe vitamin deficiencies as a result of vegetarian diets. cutting meat out of your diet means cutting out nutrients that the human body needs. a diet that consists of SOME meat, that is organic and lean, and mostly fruits and vegetables is the healthiest diet in my opinion. i worked with the special warfare community at one point and trust me that no seals or swccs i ever met were vegetarian. and they were in the best shape of anyone i ever met. i think the biggest reason i wouldnt date a vegetarian is because honestly i like being with someone who is just down to earth and enjoys a variety of foods, and doesnt go to one extreme or another. despite what many people say, alot of vegetarians are also VERY preachy about it. they always believe they are healthier, fitter, thinner, and even get upset at the sight of others eating meat. my mom was also a vegetarian and she was very militant about it. ironically enough, she would constantly end up sick, and eventually she and her husband (a Lebanese man who isnt vegetarian but eats lean meats and is very healthy) went to get tests done of every possible aspect of their nutrient level. my step dad was shown to be in perfect health, my mom on the other hand (the militant vegetarian who only ate fish) had vitamin B-12 deficiency, was anemic with very low iron levels, and had mercury poisoning. she was actually told that she needed to start eating meat and stop eating fish. i knew another girl, amanda, who was vegetarian and became anemic as a result. again, she was told by a doctor that she needed to eat meat. this vegetarian thing to me is a BIG trend. most women become vegetarians because they want to be a part of that trend and they really believe that cutting out one of the best sources of nutrients (something you learn in outdoor survival training is meat is the best source of nutrients) is the only way to stay fit. my wife is italian and thankfully she isnt a vegetarian. she is also very beautiful, lean, and the fact that she eats meat and doesnt avoid entire food groups doesnt change how attractive she is. i know my comment will probably piss someone off, but its just my honest opinion. i find it extremely refreshing when i find out (which is very rare these days) that a woman or girl eats like a normal person and isnt a vegetarian who gets uncomfortable any time she notices a burger on the menu.
I am happy to acknowledge anyone’s personal food choices and get a little shirty when people want to belittle mine. I fins that the one thing with my vegetarian partner is that she actually acknowledges my food choices, and those of our children, and realized that as we live in the same house, she has to cook meat sometimes with meals. I’m happy to go vegetarian also but our compromise is that she has to be willing and able to cook meat once in while with meals as she is not the only one living in our home. Thankfully, she was more that willing to make that compromise as that’s what families do. Now because I’m happy to eat vegetarian meals as well, it only comes up a couple of times a week. I find too often my vegetarian and vegan friends are far too egocentric when it comes to their personal choices. I don’t eat tofu because I have a problem with a processed food being central to a meal, but I learned how to cook it properly because that’s what my partner eats. The important thing is that you’re a family and families do for each other. If you can’t get over yourself enough to be fully supportive of your partner or family members, why are you together?
Great article and very relevant to many families and friends. I myself grew up in a vegetarian & omnivore household and was lucky enough to have a mother that was an incredible cook and taught me so much. I have recently actually started a blog that caters for both vegetarians and omnivores and is aimed to help bridge the gap between the two. Please come and have a look and hopefully find some inspiration and a community to exchange thoughts and feelings regarding this subject. Thanks.
My husband is a meat eater. I am 3 days in vegaterian and learning. It’s been a difficult transistion but I feel so much better because of it. I am happy to say my husband supports me. Lord knows I need it and I know that he is willing to try to eat whatever I put in front of him as long it has meat. BUT I am very happy because of this blog. The advice was great. Thanks for this.
I’m the only vegetarian in my family, I am 16. Any advice ?
Your description of how you and your partner compromise feels very similar to my own relationship.
I’ve been with my Vegetarian partner for nearly 10 years now. I do most of the cooking and tend to either cook meat/veg variations of the same meal and maybe once or twice a week I eat vegetarian with her. When she does cook, she’s never had any objection cooking meat for me – in fact, I’ve always said she cooks a great steak. Generally it works very well.
Occasionally though I find it hard. I love to cook and it can get me down that I can’t cook a delicious meaty meal for us both to enjoy. I often compromise on cooking interesting meals for myself, as I know I need to find an alternative for my parter to enjoy. When energy levels and motivations are low, we often end up buying convenience foods, such as meat substitutes or pre-prepared food or even the dreaded takeaway.
Sometimes as an outlet I will invite friends around, so I can cook something more substantial for a crowd of omnivores. If my partner is away for the evening, I might spend a little more time making something for myself.
So in conclusion, I find it works, but sometimes it can be hard and takes dedication and compromises to work.
Hi! I am a vegetarian and have been for 28 years. My husband, then boyfriend, became veggie not long after we met, 20 yrs ago. Fast forward, we have two veggie kids. My husband just announced that he is going vegan. I can’t help but feel stressed. I am comfortable with our lifestyle, our favorite meals together and restaurants. I already feel restricted by not eating meat and eggs. Milk is in a lot of things. I know it is wrong, but somehow I feel sad about the change and not being on the same page for once. We always make big decisions together. And I, the one who started this, am not ready to be vegan. Please don’t bash me. I find myself crying a lot about this. I have never posted on a board before. Just hoping to get some support or enlightenment. Thank you!
Hi Jackie! I hear you. For me, the switch from omnivore to vegetarian many years ago was relatively easy. But when I had to cut out dairy (I still eat eggs) it was far harder! Dairy, it seems, is in everything. But now, going without dairy really is my new norm and it’s gotten much easier. I can see how for your family this might go deeper than just food – it was probably so nice to be on the same page for so long. In our house, we still have dairy products and meat (my husband and daughter eat both) – but I just don’t eat them. Cow’s milk sits next to almond milk. Daiya cheese (when I want to indulge) is next to the mozzarella. Earth Balance used to be next to the butter until I found myself eating far too much of it because it tastes so good! 😉 There are some recipes that start out vegan and then, if you like, you could add cheese or an egg – perhaps add a few of those to your arsenal? I’m going to be sharing a risotto recipe in a couple of weeks that might work well for you guys – it starts out vegan and is delicious as-is, but you can also add Parmesan for the vegetarians. It’s always tough adjusting to a new way of eating, and even harder when the decision was not your own. My prediction is that you’ll hit your “new norm” before you know it. Wishing you the best of luck with the transition!
I am a vegan for spiritual and ethical reasons and I could never have meat in the house, Bad energy!
It’s definitely non-negotiable for some. I totally get that!
My daughter is a pescatarian. She will eat select types of fish and occasionally shrimp. She enjoys dairy products and eggs. She does not eat chicken or any meats. I was vegan gor many years and started adding animal products back into my diet. I cannot consume cow products but can goat. I eat eggs and occasionally eat fish, seafoods and select meats. My son and husband eat everything. Preparing 3-4 meals at dinner every night is exhausting, and we have a baby on the way! I’d really like to start meal planning a bit to cut down on food cost (we buy everything organic, non gmo, humanely raised and usually local so we spend a small fortune on food) and time in the kitchen. Any ideas?
I admire your tolerance. I could never bring myself to purchase meat for my long term boyfriend. Or offer to cook it for him. We have made it a rule not to discuss our diets and be respectful. He doesn’t like to cook so will generally eat what I prepare without too much complaint. He knows he is free to purchase and cook his own meat if that what he prefers,nor do I dictate what he orders when we are out to dinner. I will say that although I adore him, knowing what I do now, I would never again choose to date a meat eater, the compromises I make for him to enjoy his choice in foods is personally too high.
Hi I’m a meat eater living in a vegetarian family who want to banish meat from Christmas dinner, I’ve already bought the turkey and planned to cook it when joined about but now my veggie daughter says she doesn’t want any meat, my other daughter and husband are not veggie and they are coming too . What should I do?
Hi Susie, so sorry, that sounds really stressful! It can be tough but I think both sides need to compromise a bit. As a vegetarian, I still expect there to be a meaty main for all my carnivorous loved ones. I just avoid it, myself. Perhaps your daughter can try to understand that you’ve already bought the turkey, but maybe you can prepare a couple of veggie-friendly sides (or encourage her to bring them). And maybe even next year you can together plan a plant-based Christmas feast – for something different – when you all have a little more advance notice. Best of luck and merry Christmas to you and your family.
This is all well and good but I like eating meat as do the 2kids we have. We have been together 11years and he’s suddenly gone vegan. Seriously?? Can’t just ‘pop to the farmers market and prepare together’. We both work and have to cook Wen I get home something that I and the kids will eat. I’m all for hearing ur words of wisdom but me and the kids don’t eat beans, lentils or quinoa or buckwheat and all that stuff. So please advise wat I’m supposed to do?? It’s causing a rift in our marriage ?
Can you post a recipe for your eggplant tofu bean sprout foo foo? Ha! It is difficult when integrating two lives to work out differences with respect to eating. My girlfriend and I both gained a few pounds in the first two years of our relationship, because sharing meals and going out to eat were a big part of our courtship. Two years in, I switched to vegan. By then we had, as you put it, established a base of respect and mutuality and commitment, so that it is easier to do things independently now. We both made separate diet plans, and have each lost all the weight. I am lucky though. She loves my vegan cooking, and we go meatless a day or two a week together.
After 20 plus years of being vegetarian , it still bothers me to see others at the table mindlessly eating their meat.
Don’t they realize the suffering that animal has gone through their whole existence, including slaughter ?
Yet I am expected to purchase meat, prepare it, and sit idly by as it is consumed.
This is not even the meat we ate as children, before factory farming entered our lives .
Any suggestions on how to handle this?
My husband and I have been together for 14 years. He’s been vegetarian/vegan on and off for portions of that time and has recently decided to go back to strict veganism. I am the cook in the family and in the last few years have been paleo to deal with some health issues (and because my body feels better when I eat like that). I don’t need to be 100% with it, but grains, beans, dairy and soy are not on my list. I usually consider my meal plan “plant based with meat” because I eat a huge volume of vegetables and some fruit along with my protein source but vegetarian/vegan meals don’t tend to satisfy me with my bean/grain restriction.
My husband has tried to keep me from having to do more cooking work with his new decision (which I appreciate) by suggesting he buy meatless products to add to his portion of my vegetables. Seems ok for now, but doesn’t seem like the best option (price wise, health wise and variety wise) for lunch and dinner every day of the year.
Any suggestions on easy things I can make that can serve as “sides” for me but can be a meal for him? Or other thoughts in general about handling our situation together? Thanks so much!
This is not helping
How is that compromising when it only applies to the meet eating person?
Real compromising would be if you vegetarians also make exceptions from your ideas once in while and actually eat meat too.
Well, here’s how I, as the vegetarian in the house, compromise. I go to steakhouses (or heck, just about any mainstream restaurant) so my carnivorous husband can have a meal he loves and I settle for a side salad and a roll. I make/create dinners that we can easily add meat to – I might make something entirely different if it weren’t for our mixed-diet situation. I buy and prepare meat and allow meat in my kitchen, something I would actually rather not do. I don’t think I have to EAT meat in order to compromise, but that’s just one opinion.
Hi! I realize this thread is really old but I defiantly need advice about this sort of thing. We have been an all meat eating family until recently my 11 year old daughter decided she wanted to go vegetarian. We spent some time looking at recipes and meat substitutes and came up with a good plan moving forward. Recently she has been moving more towards vegan choices and also has been giving the rest of us in the family a hard time (I mean lots of attitude and mean looks) when we eat dinners with meat. I’ve really tried to be helpful with her new choices and now that she’s pushed back towards us in feeling really frustrated. I told her she should respect our choices like we respect hers. I’ve bought her so many special groceries and helped her come up with special meals for school lunches and I just feel upset that she’s making us feel badly about eating meat. Ugh trying to do the best I can but feeling frustrated! Any advice? Thank you!
I think I might be leaning more vegetarian lately and enjoy cooking more when it’s not meat oriented. But my husband is a meat eater and a picky one at that. There have been a few times I make two dishes. What he likes for him and then what I like for that evening. I alone cook for both of us. I don’t mind cooking what he likes, but it sticks in my mind what my dad said to me before we got married….that I would have to cook what my husband liked, period. Of course, my mom jumped in at that point and disagreed. That’s another story. Good article.
High five to your mom! 😀 Our diets really evolve over time, and that’s okay! Trends come and go, sometimes one of you has to let something go for health reasons (I’m looking at you dairy), we try new foods and love them and begin to incorporate them … it’s all okay, and in fact, eating the same foods all the time is boring, right? I guess my point is that it’s okay and in fact totally normal to evolve culinarily … though admittedly harder for some than for others.
Love this post! I feel like I am breaking the trend here – but I am an omnivore and my boyfriend is a pescatarian. It’s the same for us – cook with vegetables first (no tofu!) and we make it work. I think when people are both cool about it – it’s no big deal and we cook together the best! Though I tease him he’s going to miss my pulled pork someday. It’s a little more challenging for our kids. My daughter is a carnivore and his is a vegetarian. But again, there’s so much overlap it is not a huge deal.
I just mey a woman that mismerized me…wow im staggered. She is vegan im not but this cant be a deal breaker it feels so right. How do i adjust, dont want to blow this one, seems so right.
I love to cook im a trained chef but never dabbled in vegan menues i need a fantastic menue to make for my new specual lady , whoe is vegan please help with suggestions fo a fantastic meal.
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I’ve been with my vegan husband for 25 and he’s been vegan that entire time. I tried it for eight years and then gave up. The main issue I have is that all my husband wants to eat is pasta with red sauce and vegan meatballs. I cannot have pasta and the tomato sauce tears up my stomach. My physician has recommended a high-protein, low carb diet for me. Also, my husband does not like fresh fruits/vegetables and won’t eat salads. It has gotten much more difficult since my own diet became restricted. I do like fruits, veggies, and salads, but I’m tired of preparing two meals every night for two people or living from the hot bar at Whole Foods. I suggested to him that we see a nutritionist to be able to share meals that we both enjoy. Fingers crossed!
I am the same with tomato sauce! And even some of those vegan meat products are not kind to my stomach. I think seeing a nutritionist is a great idea. Please come back and share any wins!
I try not to judge others. What I have control over is takng responsibility for my own lifestyle not someone else’s. Friends, roomates, lovers and family being meat-eatters is not generally an issue for me, they order what they want in a restaurant and I order what i want. I don’t mind sharing pots and pans, they always can be cleaned. What is most difficult for me as a vegetarian is when your meat-eater is entirely dependent on you for food. My disabled mom stays with me. She is not able to cook, and she has a tiny social security check that is never enough to make ends meet, so I have to buy the groceries. She’ll ask me to buy her chicken or fish or dairy products or whatever she has a taste for, knowing that I am a vegetarian. I feel depressed walking the aisles of the supermarket buying these things, seeing the butcher in the deli section get his cleavers ready, passing poor shell fish waiting in the tank to be boiled alive, grabbing the rotesserie chicken my mom wanted– and looking right at the dead creature’s legs and body on display. I think about everything the chicken was submitted to in the factory. I go home in the kitchen stand over the wok, and add the shrimp to the mixed vegetable she wanted. I feel guilty and sickened. It is one thing not to reproach someone else for their lifestyle, and show tolerance, but it is another to actively participate in something you don’t believe in. It is my money that is supporting the meat industry. I make vegetarian
meals, and sometimes she will try them and like them. But she still wants meat in her diet, and I don’t like having to be the henchmen for this. I think it is a little insensitive to ask someone with a very different diet than your own to make food that they find inappropriate, be it pork or meat in general.
Thanks for your post. The comments were also useful to read and consider people’s points if view. I’ve been vegetarian for 30+ years and married for 10+. My husband respected my no-meat-in-the-house request in the beginning, but little by little has been bringing it in. He started a fitness program the last few years where he needs to eat clean chicken everyday. He made an outdoor kitchen and cooks outside in the dead of winter, but he brings it in to eat and the house reeks (to me, not to him) to the point that I need to leave. If I complain he gets explosively angry, probably because he’s trying so hard to be respectful. I know it’s all about compromise, but he married a vegetarian and I feel like he’s changing the rules. He thinks I’m being unreasonable. I wouldn’t have married anyone who wouldn’t have respected vegetarianism in the home, but at this point it would only be hurtful to say so. This has been a hard issue for us.
Hi Sha! Oh man, that is tough. I do have to say I think it might be easier to keep the peace when you’re in the “honeymoon” period … a little more difficult as we evolve as the years go by. I’m able to have meat in the house so that makes things a little easier for us but I COMPLETELY understand how you just simply can’t do it. I wish I had an easy answer or solution for you. It’s frustrating that those boundaries that you both agreed to in the beginning are really being pushed now.
We are a multicore family. I have been veg for 2.5 years and vegan for 2 weeks, and he is a meat eater. I like a lot of different flavors and he likes really plain foods so we typically eat totally different meals. Like I’ll make him a frozen breakfast sandwich or a chicken quesadilla and I’ll make myself something international. I don’t like cooking meat but don’t mind heating up already cooked meat fof him. He is disabled, and has an aid come in so I’ll have the aid cook the meat when it needs cooked(rarely). I don’t like the smell in the house but I don’t mind either going outside for a while or I’ll just deal for the couple hours until it goes away. We don’t cook meat for him that often. We cook meat for the cat twice a month because she has digestive issues and can’t eat regular food, but that’s not that often either so I don’t mind.
I was vegetarian for 14 years but started eating meat again 4 years ago. During which I met my partner who never had been vegetarian or liked any vegetables for that matter. Ever since we’ve been together I’ve tried to get him to eat his veggies but you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make em drink. I recently returned to a vegetarian diet and it’s been really rough for him. I’m excited to try out some of the recipes here. On a positive and slightly funny not today I made us homemade baked Mac and cheese and I had a large salad and bbq tofu and he had bbq chicken and corn on the cob.
Thank you so much for sharing. And oh gosh, I’m going to have to replicate that mac and cheese / BBQ situation because that sounds so delicious!