When I first met my 6-foot-5-inch cowboy husband nine years ago, I knew I had met Ron Swanson in real life.
I’ve never been a huge meat eater, but over the course of our relationship, I became quite skilled in cooking all different types of meat-based dishes for my carnivore boyfriend. In the early days of our relationship, he “jokingly” told me that vegetarians were a “deal breaker.” About 6 months after we got married, we found out I was pregnant with our son. I had really gnarly morning sickness all the way through the first two trimesters, and meat was one of the biggest triggers. I couldn’t look at it, smell it, touch it, and most of all, taste it. If my husband wanted to eat meat, he was on his own. We figured this would go away after the pregnancy was over and my senses returned to normal, but it didn’t.
I still couldn’t get over the sight, texture and taste of meat. But I still cooked it for my husband and my son. At the beginning of the year, I read Give A Sh*t: Do Good. Live Better. Save the Planet. by Ashlee Piper, and my decision was fully solidified. Not only was the enjoyment of eating meat gone, but now I could no longer in good conscious keep it a part of our weekly meal plans. This past year, I’ve been cooking fully vegetarian for all of our dinners, so I’ve learned some tricks and tips for creating a meal we’re all happy with.
Make it hearty
My husband is a big guy, and most enthusiastic carnivores like big portions. I quickly discovered that making a salad each night was not going to fly on his end. I learned which plant-based ingredients stuck to his ribs, as grandma would say, and which ones weren’t going to be satisfying enough. Chickpeas and lentils are deceptively filling, so a lot of our meals revolve around those ingredients.
Plan the week out
We have a small magnetic whiteboard on our fridge where I list out the dinners I have planned for the week. This way, if my husband knows a specific dinner might not meet his cravings, he can satisfy those cravings at lunch.
Make compromises, not substitutes
There are a lot of vegetarian and vegan “meat” substitutes out there these days, but that doesn’t mean they are healthy. Instead of subbing out your ground beef with a vegetarian version, try making something similar, but a meal on its own. Lentils are a great option for meatloaf, meatballs, etc. But the presentation is important. Don’t promise it’s going to taste just like real meatloaf. Even if it tastes good to you, the carnivore in your life is going to focus on the missing elements, rather than the dish as a whole.
Keep communication open
I know that my husband doesn’t want to complain or stir the pot, but I want to make sure when I’m cooking for the family it’s something we’re all enjoying, not just me. Keeping a healthy dialogue about our meals is key. Don’t be offended when your partner isn’t as keen on the jackfruit “pulled pork” sliders as you are.
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