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vegetarian cooking for carnivore

Living with my fiance, and while he likes most of what I cook, he often says "it's missing the meat". I've been veg for about 14 years, and have never cooked an animal (once, for his birthday actually, fellow chowhounds helped me prepare some chicken breasts, which i handled only with tongs and plastic bags).

Is there any way that I can add some meat to his meals without handling it - good packaged, precut, precleaned, heat and eat kind of meat (mainly chicken)? The thought of cooking with it bothers me as much as the thought of eating it. Any tips?

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  1. I'm in the same boat as you. Just buy pre-cooked chicken, shrimp or ham from the grocery store - either frozen or from the deli counter. Takes the guesswork out of it.

    1. I think that a delicatessen or deli section of a supermarket could provide several different meat items, already cooked. Or maybe trade with a neighbor, your nice vegetable dish/salad for a plate of spicy meatballs?

      1. I've been a vegetarian for 13 years. My husband is a devout omnivore.

        I do not cook or handle meat. My husband is free to buy, cook and eat any meat he so desires. Whatever I cook becomes his "side-dish".

        After a few nasty bouts of me getting ill, we have separate utensils, cutting boards, etc. (anything that can not go into the dishwasher) for meat.

        This system works very well for us and keeps us both happy.

        3 Replies
        1. re: librarian

          Does he prepare meat for himself daily? This fascinates me, I wonder how many couples live this kind of "separated suppers" life for years and years.

          1. re: blue room

            He prepares meat for himself several times a week and its certainly not a "separate supper". He'll ask me what I'm cooking for dinner, if he wants meat, he chooses something appropriate. Cooking for us is a very social function and we entertain quite frequently. The only time he's not eating what I cook for dinner is when he's the "chef" and cooking something specific for guests (duck, turkey, game, etc.) We vie for time in the kitchen and find it more fun to cook together in the kitchen than for each of us to take a turn on our own.

            1. re: librarian

              I see, it's not like you are put off by the smell of the meat cooking,etc.

        2. instead of cooking meat, why not try adding some tempeh or seitan to your meals?

          perhaps you both can try something together at a 'Buddhist type' Chinese restuarant where 'mock' meats are served?

          1 Reply
          1. re: jbyoga

            As an omnivore who has cooked for vegetarians, I suggest the chances of that being successful for someone who wants meat are slim. I love certain types of tofu, but tempeh/seitan and mock meat products simply do not respond to the desire for flesh.

          2. I didn't think there was a simple solution! I do use some mock meats to add substance (made a creole stew tonight using morning star sausage links, the he didn't mind at all), but mostly he doesn't like them. To complicate matters, I grew up kosher, so I am super aware of not letting a spoon or cutting board be used for my stuff and for his. He's definetely free to cook meat, but on nights that he has class I get home way before he does. (also, he's still learning to cook - his version of meatballs is chopped meat rolled into a ball and pan fried, leaving it burnt on the outside on raw on the inside).

            I keep thinking that if I'm really a good cook, and use the right spices and seasonings that even a meat eater won't think there's something missing. Guess that's not going to happen!

            1. Morningstar makes a "chik'n strip" product that you can use with stir-fry or even cold in salads or anywhere else that you would use the real thing. i'm not big into the "mock meats" but i hear this one is good as is the Morningstar sausage crumbles for a ground pork sausage substitute for pasta sauces or pizza topping. There is a brand called Tofurky that makes soy Brats, Kielbasa and Italian sausages that are very popular and Kosher, i believe. i do like the Boca crumbles in chilli or tacos.
              Maybe you can try these to ween him off meat gradually?
              You can use beans to make soups and stews heartier and even make a wonderful meatless loaf with lentils.
              Good luck!

              1. Have you tried precooked sausage? We get Bruce Aidell's sausage. It is all precooked and really good. All you would have to do is brown and heat it through. You wouldn't have to touch the stuff, tongs and perhaps scissors to separate the links, are all you need.

                This is a quick and satisfying way to add meat to your meal without having to actually deal too directly with the stuff yourself.

                1. Perhaps the next time he prepares meat he can make extra & put in ziploc bags w/ labels to freeze. Then you can enhance his portion before plating by nuking and adding on top or on side or mixed in. Or let him do that quick part if the touching is an issue:Example- his meatballs- they can give him some "meat" in a pasta dish. Have you ever tried South Indian vegetarian food? The flavors are magically complex and satisfiying. Often the spice stores have prepared food to eat or take out and it is a great way to try out something different.

                  1. Quite a conundrum but a fascinating accommodation you have made. I am a meat eater but have found the recipes in either the Greens cookbook or the green River Cafe cookbook extremely satisfying; as if these folks had discovered that, yes, even vegetables can be bad for you, and they mean that in the best possible way.

                    1. Have you tried either Veat or Quorn products? I think they are both great faux meat products...

                      1. My BIL is an omnivore with some limitations - acid reflex, lactose intolerance. His wife is a militant vegetarian. He buys cooked meat to bring home when he wants it, otherwise he eats the food she cooks. Whenever they eat out, either in a restaurant or someone's home, he dives into the meat dish with both hands. We keep wondering how long this situation can last. They've been married for 3 years.

                        1. Costco carries pre-cooked, pre-sliced chicken breast. It's basically buying 'leftovers' as near as I can tell and expensive at that. But it'd probably be great for the problem you describe.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Jacquilynne

                            I always buy the rotisserie chicken from Costco- it's great for eating plain or cutting up & using in other dishes. And depending on what time of day you pick it up, you won't even have to re-heat it!

                            1. re: pamd

                              I actually don't like their rotisserie chicken very much. It's not virtually inedible (like the stuff I've tried from Loblaws stores), but it's not nearly as good as the ones I can buy at Dominion. I like the concept - grocery store rotisserie chickens can be really handy and make great leftovers, I just don't like the seasoning they use at Costco.

                              1. re: Jacquilynne

                                Are you in the western US? There seems to be more praise for Costco rotissirie chix in the East than the West.

                                1. re: Karl S

                                  I'm in the Northern US ... I mean ... uh ... Canada. ;) Maybe we get the bad recipe up here, though!

                                  1. re: Jacquilynne

                                    that could be it- I'm in the East. there is actually not much seasoning on them to dislike here. The dept at my local one ran out so much that they built an entire expanded rotisserie section!

                          2. I'm not vegetarian, but some raw meat grosses me out! Beef is OK, but poultry? Eew. And it is flesh and sometimes bloody. So I can understand not wanting to handle it.

                            1. well if he's criticizing your cooking, he should probably learn to cook his own meat then, & freeze as per other posters' suggestions, or buy it precooked.

                              but if you are really trying to be kind: does "chicken by george" still exist? frozen chx breasts in different sauce/spice mixes, in the freezer at grocery store: prick plastic & nuke until done, slit plastic & slide onto plate along with formerly vegetarian meal as "side"-- handling meat is minimal or nonexistant, might be an option if something like that still exists & it's not quite a teevee dinner. Sausage is another good suggestion. good luck

                              1. we're the opposite, I eat meat and my partner is vegetarian. if I left him to his own divices he would eat kraft dinner every or perogies every night. i tend to make meals and add the meat after. so, for example, if i make pasta then i just top it with chicken for me and tofu for him.

                                the problem is that although you can buy pre-cooked meats, you usually still have to handle them. costco has a great roast pork and a great roast chicken, but you'd still have to cut them up, and in the chicken case it's still got all the bones, so it's a little trickier to cut.

                                here (in Ontario) Costco carries pre-cooked sliced chicken breast that is great, I really like it and the freedom it affords.

                                my suggestion is get the roasts, get him to cut them up and individually portion them then freeze or refridgerate that, then it's just a matter of pulling it out when he needs it, and he can do the prep when he has time, instead of when he's just gotten home from class and is hungry.