Becoming a vegetarian can be a huge step toward improving your health and well-being. The problem is that drastically changing your diet is a big adjustment and can be challenging at the beginning. Your new diet may no longer be compatible with what your husband and the rest of the family eats. Adapting to your new vegetarian diet will require patience, planning and being open to change, but the payoff will be worth it.
1. Don't Be Pushy
You may have powerful reasons behind your decision to become a vegetarian, and you want to share them with your family. Share some of the information or research that you might have come across and then give your husband the freedom to make his own choices. Limit your comments and avoid constantly preaching about the benefits of a vegetarian diet. This will only result in your husband taking a defensive approach and adopting a negative attitude toward vegetarian lifestyles. Even if you are cringing at the big steak your husband is eating, keep in mind that he is entitled to make choices for himself. Being respectful of your husband's dietary habits will prevent conflict in your relationship.
2. Cook with a Strong Foundation
One of the biggest challenges you will face is cooking family meals that both of you can enjoy. The key is to start with a strong foundation that you can alter to fit each of your dietary habits. For example, begin with pasta or a salad and add chicken or meat for your spouse and fresh veggies or tofu for yourself. Keep in mind, that you still have many foods in common, such as vegetables, pasta, rice and beans. Start with some of these ingredients as a base for your meals. Other ideas you can cook for both are: rice and beans topped with ground beef or vegetarian chili, vegetable and noodle stir-fry topped with beef or tofu, and Mexican chalupas with beans or shredded chicken.
3. Familiarize Yourself with Vegetarian Options at Restaurants
Your new plant-based diet does not mean you must stop eating out together. New vegetarians often think restaurants do not offer options for them or that they can only visit vegetarian restaurants. You might be surprised at all the options that are available. Steakhouses, for example, might seem completely off-limits for vegetarians, but, most of them offer vegetable plates where you can combine several different sides. Be creative when there is nothing on the menu that you can eat. Request that a certain dish be cooked with vegetables instead of meat, or order a salad with several side dishes. Always ask your waiter if they offer any vegetarian options. Hamburger venues can often replace a meat patty with a veggie patty upon request. There are many websites, such as vegguide.org or happycow.net, that can help you find options in your area.
4. Assign a Meat-Free Day
Allow your husband to support you in your new lifestyle. Agree on a certain day of the week where both of you share a meat-free meal together. Try old family recipes with new ingredients, such as a vegetable lasagna, a meat-less pot pie or grilled veggie kebabs. Your husband will experience tasty vegetarian foods and might be more open to adopting a more plant-based diet in the future. Cook new recipes, and incorporate vegetables or ingredients you have never tried before to spice things up. The website meatfreemondays.com offers many ideas and recipes for your meat-free day.
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