Vegetarians and Meat-Eaters Unite at Dinnertime
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.
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.
Do you know a vegetarian living with a meat-eater? How do they manage?