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Where's the beef?

My beef? My significant other doesn't think dinner is dinner unless there is some meat involved.

I was a vegetarian for 14 years, and recently started eating bacon(destroying the will of veggies everywhere...) and seafood (As a Mainer, I feel obligated to support the local economy... and ok, ok, I love scallops and mussels and all the rest and can't believe I went without for so long...)

I am still happy to go to my veg favorites( one can't have seafood every night and there's no dening the benefits of a balanced veg based diet), but I can not get this person to consume thier protein from anything but animal sources- they will not eat tofu, tempeh or any processed soy products(me neither on that last one...The ingredient list for veggie "chicken" nuggets is scary long...)

Do you have any people like this in your life? How do can they be reformed?

Any advice???? Any veg recipes that will turn my carnivoire into a more adventurous eater? We have had more than our fair share of pasta with beans, risottos, veg stuffed breads/sandwiches and omelettes/frittatas...

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  1. I would abandon any effort to "reform" the eating preferences of anyone who is not my child. It usually ends badly, and with nasty feelings. Change myself first - like freeing myself from the things that make me want to reform the other.

    1. I, too, am married to a carnivore. Frankly, I don't care for the taste of tofu & a lot of soy products either. Do you eat dairy & eggs? I have some good recipes for portobello mushrooms (which taste beefy), eggplant parmigian, vegetable lasagna, quiche, etc. but I have to admit they all use dairy or eggs. Reply back and we can go from there.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Diane in Bexley

        Eggs and dairy-yes! I can make a mean quiche and have always liked using portabellos as meat place holders too...

        Perhaps I should have chose different wording- I am not trying to change this person(we've know each since we were children and have been together for almost as long-they are great they way they are) so much offer them the opportunity to see a veg meal as fulfilling as a meal with meat...But you're right Karl, changes comes from within...

      2. I'm not a vegetarian but don't eat too much meat while DH absolutely loves meat and would have it three meals a day if he could. I noticed that a lot of carnivores can handle a vegetarian meal if it has a lot of umami flavors in it -- eg. mushrooms, miso, etc. I've heard great things about the chickpea cutlet in the Veganomicon cookbook. I would post you the recipe but my cookbook is on backorder until the middle of February!

        2 Replies
        1. re: Miss Needle

          For example: baked beans. I love to use pork and maple syrup. But for my vegetarian version, for each pound of dried beans, I use a half stick of butter (in which I saute a finely chopped onion), a small can of tomato paste (which add to the saute to bring out its flavor first), and some tamari sauce, in addition to the other usual ingredients sans meat. Those give the mouthfeel and umami taste that meat would normally provide.

          1. re: Karl S

            Excellent point, Karl. My wife is mostly meat and starch. I use meat for flavoring, and other than the occasional burger, I find I no longer enjoy red meat as the centerpiece of the meal - but I absolutely believe it's an important flavoring and textural element that has no replacement in the vegan world. I am consistently pushing my spouse toward eating more recipes and going to more restaurants that employ few, if any, dishes featuring big slabs of meat and potatoes. While she's not a big SE Asian fan, she does like Italian quite a bit, giving me an opportunity to highlight lots of veggies and seafood.

            IMO, mushrooms are great for umami, but they don't cut it in a bowl of red. Yes, one can make vegetarian and vegan "chili" but it's a different dish. I happen to make an excellent one with butternut squash that (so far) is the only recipe I've found where adding TPV is an asset.

        2. I love to eat vegetables and prefer them to meat. However, when I try to eat only vegetarian, I end up feeling unsatisfied and am more likely to snack later. I have learned that a small portion of meat goes a long way in keeping myself from eating junk food that I don't need. Perhaps he is like that?

          7 Replies
          1. re: alliedawn_98

            Do you feel that way even when you eat high-protein things like legumes?

            1. re: Miss Needle

              I know I do. Animal protein helps me sleep; non-animal protein does not. I don't need a lot, but I need some.

              1. re: Karl S

                Yeah, everybody is different. I do believe meat is beneficial in some people. In the Eastern nutrition perspective, different types of meat have different healing qualities. Even the Dalai Lama eats meat every other day when his doctors tell him to.

              2. re: Miss Needle

                We always cook beans with a small amount of meat. Otherwise they don't satisfy and they certainly don't sustain me until the next meal.
                We don't use much but why live without it? A small amount goes a long way and we eat fewer calories in the long run. And the beans taste so much better.

                1. re: MakingSense

                  I agree. I believe the issue with a lot of Americans is that they just eat too much meat.

                  However, a lot of people are vegetarians for ethical/environmental reasons. I think it's really difficult to sustain vegetarianism for purely health reasons. My dad did it for years and his cholesterol was still above 200. Later on, he started incorporating meat and other health changes (no drugs), and it went down to 150. Meat, if used correctly, can do a lot of good.

                  1. re: Miss Needle

                    There's a great deal of common ground here. Few would argue with those who avoid meat for ethical reasons but would prefer that we not be chastised for not agreeing. The environmental arguments are still in the hands of the jury and, indeed, the increasing availability of free-range, humanely-raised meats are allowing many former vegetarians to resume some consumption of meat with good conscience.

                    I think many of us are moving to less meat-centric diets which are healthier overall. We really shouldn't try to force a certain preference on others when it isn't necessarily the best for everyone.

                2. re: Miss Needle

                  Yes, I've tried making bean burritoes and other foods using legumes and I still leave the table feeling like something is missing.

              3. You would not be "turning your carnivore into a more adventurous eater," but removing significant numbers of items from the vast selection open to him when he can eat meat and seafood, plus the enormous array of products made from those items. You would be restricting and limiting his dietary choices.

                1. As someone who does not consider a meal a meal unless there is beef, chicken, pork, or seafood consumed, I wouldnt appreciate someone trying to change my diet. Live and let live.

                  1. Lots of interesting stuff re: unami & changing other/live and let live...To respond to the comment that increasing the number of vegetarian dishes in our diet is limiting my SO's diet/choices, I say not so...By eating meat-centric dishes, they are limiting themself. If they were more open to non-animal protein based dishes, they would be trying new dishes and new flavors. If you haven't tried it, how do you know you don't like it??? And yes, I agree- we are all ultimately repsonsible for our own choices, culinarily based or otherwise. And don't get me wrong- the bacon I get from a local farm lights up my life. I just think that meat moring noon and night is excessive. But to those that "live" on salad are missing out too- it's about striking a balance...

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Bunnyfood

                      < "If you haven't tried it, how do you know you don't like it???">
                      Many of us have tried it. We like it fine. It just doesn't move the meter all the way up.
                      We quietly think to ourselves, why in the world would you leave out a few pieces of pancetta or some chicken stock? Gee, wouldn't a ham bone have made these red beans great?
                      Nobody has argued for a hunk o'meat lifestyle. Many of us just said we missed something when it wasn't there.
                      Remember - we eat everything you eat. We're the ones with more choices.

                      1. re: MakingSense

                        i think the point is not to eliminate ALL animal products, but more like that the center of a meal doesn't need to be a steak. so, yes, ham bone in a soup is great, especially if there are a lot of veggies in said soup. i know that i've dated my share of men who couldn't get past meal = hunk of meat, and it's valid to look for some menu options that would also satisfy such people. for instance, using bacon as a flavoring in a legume dish. just because it's probably not healthy to eat a pork chop or chunk of steak twice a day, every day of the week.

                        1. re: nzach

                          Except for those who want to eliminate all animal products. Or even the OP who considers it "reforming" the SO to get them to eat meals w/o meat. It's not "reforming" unless there's been a judgment made that there's something wrong in consuming even the small amounts of meat for flavoring, using chicken stock, etc. Vegetarians now expect that there be menus for them even at hamburger places. Or that omnivore hosts provide something that they can eat.

                          1. re: nzach

                            >>i think the point is not to eliminate ALL animal products, but more like that the center of a meal doesn't need to be a steak.<<

                            I can buy into that. I really don't have a problem with eating less meat centered dishes. However, the replacement has to taste good and be well prepared. One more bulgar broccoli bake with fake cheese and the like and I will scream.

                            Also, many vegetarians like to proselytize about their lifestyle. If you are trying to get a SO to change their diet, that is not really effective. After all, who wants a lecture.

                            One cardiologist that I worked with established a healthy lifestyle program for his patients who were largely African American. Not once did he ever say to eliminate Southern staples like bacon, eggs, or the like. Instead, he emphasized limiting them to once or twice a week. And in many cases, he saw substantial changes.

                      2. I disagree with you there. Because I do eat meat doesn't mean I don't eat other proteins as well. I have tried to eat tofu but apparently, I just don't know how to cook it. I eat it in Hot Sour Soup at a local Chinese restaurant. I eat almost all legumes and consume those several times a week along with lots of other veggies. I don't see where it would be limiting to still consume meat if the person is open to trying different foods. There is a difference in refusing to try it and refusing to go vegan. You are right, it is about striking a balance and for a lot of us, that means consuming meat proteins right along beside vegetable proteins.

                        1. Wasn't there someone who posted from Maine last week who was trying to get a vegetarian significant other to switch over to the carnivore.

                          Several suggested that bacon was the way to do it ...

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: jlawrence01

                            Bacon..its like a gateway drug...It's what did me in...A week's long vacation at an inn in VT- house cured bacon with every breakfast- The meat eater, of, course, got a double side. It only took 2 days of blueberry pancakes before I was saying "a side of bacon, please..."

                            Aftter that, I returned to the restaurant that I was working at and spread the word...The cooks were offering me samples of meat left and right...House made salt cod, duck confit, lobster BLT stuffed octopus, scallops with a ramp sauce, mussels with almond butter..It got me thinking that I could be a meat eater, but it's about quality, not quantity. To this day, we only consume meats from local farms(and they are a lot of options- yes, Maine is great)...Pricey, but so are red peppers, artichoke, wild mushroom and many of the vegetarian staples I go to...

                            1. re: Bunnyfood

                              I think my DH would try almost anything veg-based (tempeh, ratatouille, Quorn) if it was wrapped in bacon. Or sprinkled on top.

                          2. Although I admit that I prefer meals with meat or fish, look to the old Lenten/Friday menus of Italian Americans for inspiration. They used lots of eggplant, chickpeas, white cannelini beans, and other substantial vegetables. Often served with pasta or on a crusty piece of bread as sandwich.

                            Ideas: Eggplant Parmigiana; Eggplant Giambotti (Italian Ratatouille), Pasta with: white beans/peas/chickpeas/ or cauliflower in a thin red tomato sauce, Asparagus Frittata, Potato Frittata, Red Bell Pepper Frittata (add parmesan cheese and parsley to these). They were all somewhat filling, and we never thought we were missing meat because they were substantial entrees. In fact, the fritattas and eggplant items were often served on crusty Italian bread as a sandwich entree. Always with a salad or soup. My mother says it was also common to eat brocolli rabe as sandwich item. Peasant fare? You bet. But remember, no meat on Fridays was the rule for most of that generation, so you needed to be creative if you didn't want to die of boredom (or pizza, but I'm not opening up THAT wound again on this board. My sentiments on All Pizza, All the Time are well known).

                            If you can add fish -- clam sauce, anchovies (yes, on pizza), you get more variety. And protein.