I get variations of this question a lot when I talk about what I eat. I’m lucky. The husband knew what he was signing up for when he met me. We eat very differently. We’ve been this way from the beginning so we’ve always cooked mainly for ourselves. We also have different schedules so he usually eats dinner before I get home from work.
There have been times though when I’ve been in charge of cooking for omnivores. There was a month when we had Z here and one of the husband’s nieces. I actually had to feed non-vegetarian people. Here’s some things I learned.
1. Use vegetarian and healthy food as the basis for all meals…
I planned meals with the idea to make something that I would eat that could be added to by the omnivores if they wanted to. For example, make spaghetti with a meatless sauce and then cook meatballs on the side that could be added in. Make casseroles and then portion out the part that you are going to eat. Mix in some store bought rotisserie chicken in the part that the other people are going to eat. Make pizzas half with veggies and half with meat.
2 …unless they are going to cook it themselves.
I scheduled in meals that the kids could make themselves. Kids need to learn to cook so they don’t starve (or rely on takeout) when they get older. Hamburgers or hot dogs are a good starting point. I had a veggie burger.
I’ve been vegetarian long enough that no one wants me to try to cook meat for them anyway. Besides, I won’t do it for ethical reasons and also because I won’t eat it I can’t taste the dishes to make sure they are seasoned correctly. I hosted Christmas this year for my family. I had a big vegan spread. I told the husband that if he wanted any dead bird on the table he had to order it pre-cooked and go get it. It worked out fine.
3. There is nothing wrong with only offering healthy food.
This one is aimed mostly at kids and not spouses. Neither kid that was here was used to not having junk food available in the house. Guess what? Neither one died from a lack of junk food. Oh, there were wailing and lamentations. I’m mean. I don’t care about their feelings. These were captive children without driver’s licenses or jobs. They didn’t have a choice in what they ate. I figure my job as parental figure isn’t to make them happy. It is to make them into the best adult members of society that they can be. Turning out junk food addicts isn’t in anyone’s best interest except processed food makers.
I gave in one day because we were going to a lake and I told them they could each get a bag of junk to take with them for the day. I ran into my trainer while checking out with an armful of chips. Yeah, not worth it.
When Z is here now we make sure there is plenty of fruit available if she wants something sweet. That’s as good as it gets. She still hasn’t died.
4. Don’t be preachy and have a sense of humor about your differences
You aren’t going to change anyone’s mind about their diet by harping on them. I do my thing and answer questions if asked but otherwise don’t try to influence the husband. He’s into healthy, high quality food too and sometimes slides dangerously close to vegetarianism. He’s on a slide right now. He’s not happy about it. I think deep down he knows that he should but he doesn’t want to make that leap. Last night we went out to dinner and he had his usual extra meat side dishes. Afterwards he despondently put his head on my shoulder and whined, “The meat didn’t even taste good.”
I patted his back and said, “It’ll be ok, baby.”
Today I was at work and got an email that my order of 2 large All The Meats pizzas was ready to be delivered. I texted him – “All the meats? Way to shove all those vegetarian feelings deep back in the closet where they belong!”
He answered that they were for the contractors working on our kitchen.
I typed. “It isn’t yours..you are just holding it for a friend…”
He replied, “Yes, officer.”