I love questions...both getting them and asking them. In fact, I ask so many that my husband thinks I would make a good investigator. I tend to thrive on information. I guess it's another hobby I have. =)
Back to the topic for this post... a Vegan Footprints reader asked this very good question:
"What do you suggest someone who wants to eat vegetarian but has a family who does not do? Myself and my daughter love to eat vegetarian however my son and husband insist on eating meat. If I do not cook they do not eat so I have to cook for them. I have gotten them down to only two or three meat meals a week (they formerly thought you had to eat meat at every meal or it was not a real meal.) Even though I do not eat the meat I hate buying and cooking it. How would you handle this?"
Very good question. I'm glad she gave more info after the first initial question, because this is a woman who has actually gotten her family to eat "only two or three meat meals a week" - Wow! Considering many people would have 2 or 3 meat meals in a day, I think she has done marvelously already!
But in reality, she still has a dilemma. She would rather not buy or cook meat for anyone in her house. She and her daughter "love to eat vegetarian," but her "son and husband insist on eating meat." I assume she is either considering a budget or food sensitivities because she states "if I do not cook they do not eat so I have to cook for them."
Ok, I'll tackle this how I see it. Keep in mind that everyone else on the planet may think differently. (I'll invite comments on what others think, only after they have read this entire post.) So to the reader, please remember these are my thoughts and my thoughts only. You can take what you like and toss the rest. Let's still be friends, ok?
I love my husband. We have a marriage 15 years long and counting. I have been vegetarian longer than my husband. If he would never have stopped eating meat, I would still love him and cook the foods he likes. I am not saying that you don't love your husband, but us ladies can resent our men pretty fast for things like this so I'm just saying it up front.
I would find out if he does eventually want to go meat free. Maybe he does, eventually...maybe he likes how it is right now, for the time being. Let him take his time, because he bases his decisions in a totally different way than you do. Men also like food. For them to change things so much from when they grew up, for most, would be like taking the lightning from Flash Gordon...maybe I'm showing my age too much here...humm....or like taking the roar from a lion - maybe that's better. What I'm saying is that you will show him more honor if you are pleasant and kind than to fuss about his few meals with meat. Your son is probably taking his cues from dad. You don't say how old he is, but the younger he is, the more impressionable he is regarding wanting to be made in dad's "likeness."
If you both as parents want the best for both of your children, then you will love each other. Meat is trivial next to this, really! If I were in your shoes, I would make meals that are easy to serve the meat as a side. Take for example, burgers - you and your daughter can have veggie burgers, your husband and son will have meat burgers. You can have everything else the same. From the burger buns, toppings and condiments to the side salads, etc... Or tacos - same thing, just put out refried beans for you, seasoned meat for them, again toppings the same. If they want steaks on the grill, try having grilled portabellas for you and your daughter.
If it's just certain meats they like, maybe you could try to come up with a vegetarian version of it to have when you are making that meal. Maybe they'll be curious and want to try it sometime. They will see that you really want them to enjoy the meals they love.
What I have found is that most people will try the food at least once. But it must taste good for them to try it again. Some will try it again after not liking it the first time, but only after they know you've made changes since that last time. It comes down to taste for most of us. Even I won't eat something if I have given it a few tries and my taste buds don't at least give it a star or two on a scale of 5 stars. For me, the way food looks doesn't matter nearly as much as the way it tastes.
You could make a deal with your husband...you get to make meals the way you like if he likes how they taste and it satisfies his cravings for meat (insert fish, poultry, beef, lamb, etc. here). If he still would like to eat meat, then buy it according to your budget and cook according to your ability. I would never suggest that you try to sneak vegetarian things in for the meat, unless you have warned him ahead of time that you'd like to try things and he doesn't mind. You could ask him about it after the meal. He would need to cooperate for this to work well though. It sounds like you have a good sport about this already though.
Why do you "hate buying and cooking" meat? Is it because you think it's yucky when it's raw? Is it because it generally costs more to prepare? Is it because you believe that they can't be healthy eating meat? I know some pretty yucky looking stuff in my kitchen that ends up tasting pretty good. And some fancy vegetarian dishes aren't so cheap either. I know alot of people that would say that eating meat didn't stop them from being healthy. I'm not arguing for a meat diet. Not at all. What I am saying is that there are two sides to every issue and considering the other person's (your husband's) viewpoint will help you to see why they do what they do. And he will love you for it.
It sounds like your daughter is taking cues from you. That's great, but please don't make this a guys-against-the-girls thing at your house. There will be much more harmony if you at least agree to disagree on this. Remember the circumstances may not change as you hope, but the way you communicate this to your family will speak volumes as to your character. Be gentle and kind. Many couples have had vast differences (remember opposites attract) and still live long happy lives together. Their children (and grandchildren) will remember much about their relationship, good or bad, long after they are gone.
Now I'd like to invite others to give some input into this very good question. Please comment in a constructive way so we can help each other. Thanks.