Monday, January 23, 2012

In a house of carnivores

"What do you eat?"  "What do you feed your family?"

These are the questions I get when someone finds out that I'm on a different diet than the rest of my family.  Its a common question, in fact  have the same reaction when someone says they're a vegan.  I'm the only vegetarian - pescatarian, to be accurate - and the rest of my family are carnivores.  I never intended on being a vegetarian, it was actually supposed to be just a few days, but upon realizing the health benefits, its lasted a few years.

For mothers, in particular, its a bit of a challenge to be on a different food plan than your family.  I say "food plan" because diet seems to imply weight-loss; but the case is the same whether for weight-loss, general health, or life-style.  You have to fix your own food and feed your family, as well.  Cooking one meal is bad enough, right?  Who wants to have to make a special meal for individual tastes, even your own?  Over those years, I've adapted to making two meals without a lot of extra work.  In case anyone else is planning on becoming a vegetarian in a house of carnivores, here's a few ideas.

- What's good for the goose... There's no reason your family can't eat whatever you are fixing for yourself.  I fix fish for the family regularly.  Sometimes I have a couple of varieties on the table, because of preferences - but they are all fixed the same.  For instance, we may have salmon and tilapia, but they are both baked.  I also do whole fish now that my children have surprised me by liking it and getting pretty adept at picking out the bones.

- Adjust family favorites so that you can enjoy them, too.  (No-one will mind!)  One of my favorite dishes is a hot, spicy jambalaya.  Traditionally, this is made with ham and chicken and sausage and whatever else kind of meat the cook decides to throw in.  It requires a lot of chopping and slicing and stirring the pot.  And I don't like doing all that work and missing out on the food.  I now make a seafood version - fish, shrimp, clams - its delicious.

- Add meat on the side.  Prepare fully nutritional, vegetarian foods, and serve with meat.  An easy example - if I want spaghetti, I don't deprive myself because the kids want meat sauce.  Make a sauce and serve meatballs on the side.

- Add meat in a separate pot/dish/pan.  A friend once gave me a delicious vegetarian soup recipe that I instantly thought would be great with some tender cubes of lamb in it.  If I am making something that I would like and that I think the family would like with meat, I begin with making enough for us all and cooking until the point of adding meat.  I take out a portion for myself and finish the two variations.  Works great for chili, soup, and lasagne.

- Explore other cultures.  The American diet is heavily based on meat, but some other cultures, especially island and coastal cuisines, rely less on beef, and more on fish and vegetables.  Sometimes I can't think of what I want to eat, then I remember - oh, yeah - I could eat Korean food!  Rice, kimchi, tofu, fish - I'm set.

- Serve a buffet of options.  This one is a little more work intensive than the others, but the kids enjoy it.     I cook a little bit of different foods and everyone can choose what they want.  Works well for fajitas (chicken, beef, fish, shrimp) and stir-fry.  (And, well, the less-work version - this is also great for all those leftovers in the fridge.)

These are just a few things that have worked for me.  If you have anything else to add, please leave a comment.

Check my In The Kitchen page for recipes for carnivores & vegetarians.

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1 comment:

Robyn said...

Good suggestions.