Versatile Vegetarian: Pleasing All Types of Eaters

First of all, I’m not a complete vegetarian. I do limit animal products as much as possible, but I particularly like seafood (and eggs). I also like the flexibility of being able to eat whatever’s offered me when I visit others. Not only that, but I don’t necessarily dislike meat. My main reasons for cutting back lie in the health benefits of doing so (see “My Food Philosophy” for more on that).

However, my husband, Ryan, loves to hunt and fish, and, if he were lead chef around here, we would eat mainly meat and potatoes. Despite this, Ryan graciously eats all the vegetable-laden fare that I serve up. Even so, I try to compromise by making dishes that please both of us, and, at least once a week, make a vegetarian dinner that can easily be meatified for him. I also love to entertain, and I often serve meals with meat, with a vegetarian option for me, when we have friends over.

I don’t have time, though, to cook two separate meals. Through trial and error, I’ve learned how to harmonize our preferences (at least most of the time). I know many vegetarians have non-vegetarian spouses, and others may just want to make some changes in their diet but their spouse, or another family member, isn’t on board. As a result, I’ve tried to include options in many of my recipes (which are virtually all vegetarian) to make main dishes more meat-lover friendly. However, here are some general tips that may be helpful:

  • Cook several chicken breasts at the beginning of the week, then cut them up and keep on hand to add to salads (in addition to, or in place of, tofu or beans), soups, enchiladas, and almost any other main dish.
  • Look for recipes, like stir fries, where a meat can be cooked on the side and then added to one person’s plate.
  • Use the same marinade recipe for tofu as chicken, and prepare in similar ways.
  • If your meat-eater likes to cook, or can cook, ask them to cook a large piece of meat one night a week, then serve up leftover slices of roast with your vegetarian meals throughout the week.
  • Be patient! It takes time to make changes and experimenting invariably leads to some real disasters. When that happens, whip up some pancakes or PB&J and send your dish to my house. The chickens will eat anything. I know.

To find specific recipes with options for vegetarians and meat eaters, check out the “Veg Meals with Meat Option” category on the right-hand side of the home page.

If you have any tips, please, let me know! I am constantly looking for good ways to please everyone while still cooking healthy food that I feel good about eating and serving.

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