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vegetarian who is dating a meat lover

I am a vegetarian who is dating a guy who loves meat - I am cool with it as long as I don't have to eat or cook it. I want to invite him over to cook for him, but don't know what to make. Does anyone know of any recipes that will work without resorting to fake meat products - which are sometimes more objectionable than the real thing.

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  1. I am a vegetarian who is married to a woman who occasionally eats meat, mostly pork. There are a lot of good cookbooks but the one I really enjoy is "Cast Iron Cooking for Dummies". (No personal reference implied). The book is from Lodge Manufacturing Co and has great sections on "Beef", "Pork". "Poultry and Fowl", "Fish and Seafood", and "Stews, Chowders, and Gumbos". Of course my bias is toward food cooked in cast iron cookware and I hope you have at least one cast iron pot. You say you do not want to eat the dish "or cook it". I am assuming that since you are asking for recipes you are willing to cook for the guy. I hope it goes well for both of you when you invite him over.

    1. If you dont want to cook meat, then you might consider something with eggs or dairy/cheese instead, or beans/lentils. these will be edible by both of you and give him some satisfying proteins. Pasta dishes, even just red sauce with cheese, a creamy/cheesy pasta with vegetables, a mushroom lasagna or eggplant parm would be good, for example. give him something satisfying and he wont miss the meat.

      1. You are absolutely right to avoid feeding a meat lover fake meat. And don't do anything that seems too healthfoody.
        Agree with above poster that pasta is a great meatless option. Along the same lines salad and a nice risotto. Grilled veg are great and pretty and go with just about anything.
        Curry and rice is hearty and delicious.
        Make a nice dessert so that at meals end he is left feeling decadent not deprived.

        1. You need a copy of Flexitarian Table, by Peter Berley! (Maybe check it out from the library if you don't want to buy it?) It was cookbook of the month about a year ago. EDIT: here's the link to the "master" COTM thread for flex table. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/514822 The premise of the book is that he gives you menus where you can make dishes, side by side, for a vegetarian or a meatlover.


          1 Reply
          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            I was also going to suggest the Flexitarian Table. Excellent cookbook! My husband is the vegetarian in the family so it is great to have the option to split the recipe to cater to all tastes.

          2. What kind of food does he like? If he's a steak-and-potatoes kind of guy, it's going to be more challenging for you than if he's an adventurous eater.

            My inclination when cooking meatless meals is look to cuisines with a strong vegetarian tradition. Northern Indian food, for example - almost 70% of the people in Gujerat eat no meat. Or Buddhist Chinese cooking.

            Of course, there are meatless dishes in nearly every cuisine. Lasagne from Italy, enchiladas stuffed with squash blossoms and cheese from Mexico, beans with greens and cornbread from the southern US, etc., etc.

            As a dedicated omnivore, I find myself getting lazy and building meals around chunks of animal protein. But with a little thought and planning, it's easy enough to make a vegetarian meal that even a serious meat lover will enjoy.

            1 Reply
            1. re: alanbarnes

              When our son came home from college and announced he was a vegetarian we found this recipe from a Burt Wolfe TV show was really good and appealed to us a meat lovers. Something about hoisin sauce ..

              As for pretend meat products I still like a Boca Burger smothered with cheese and condiments

            2. I would go for lasagna. I'm an omnivore but still prefer my lasagna meatless. Just lots of cheese and sauce!

              2 Replies
              1. re: mojoeater

                or something like stuffed shells

                1. re: mojoeater

                  Throw in spinach, basil, and mushrooms and you won't miss the meat.

                2. There are a lot of nice meals you can make which are naturally meatless. Think ethnic. Italian has many good options, as others have already mentioned. Make a nice lasagne, eggplant parmesan or any of many different kinds of pasta dishes. Serve with a nice green salad and crusty bread on the side.

                  Or, you could go middle eastern -- make a variety of "mezze" -- hummus, baba ganouj, tabouli, falafel, stuffed grape leaves, a greek salad, rice pilaf, toasted pita bread.

                  Or, you could go mexican -- make chiles rellenos or cheese enchiladas, serve with rice and beans and a salad made with a lime vinaigrette.

                  If you want to go more traditional, the recipe linked below for a "root vegetable cobbler" is very similar to a chicken pot pie. I've always gotten very nice compliments when I've made it, both from meat eaters and vegetarians:


                  1. veggie chili is always a hit. I agree with the italian suggestions listed as well.

                    1. As a vegetarian that is dating (for many years) a guy that loves meat - I cook it for him (and anyone else who asks!). I buy local farm raised animals (think happy cows), draw the line at the actual dispatch, and say a small thanks before I start. (It's unclear to me if the reason the OP won't cook meat is because of inexperience or choice.)

                      I'm with the others in keeping to an inherently vegetarian meal such as lasagna, chili rellanos, curry, or vegetable stews. For me, a standard vegetarian company dish is mushroom ragout over chickpea pancakes served with a side of fresh peas and a starter of a vegetarian terrine - rich and homely without being too twigs and sticks.

                      If you don't have any,pick up any of Deborah Madison's cookbooks (or search online). Her award-winning books feature recipes from simple to 'spend the day' in the kitchen - and all that I've made have been great.

                      Good luck, happy eating, and please report back.

                      1. My wife married me for my cooking skills. One day she suddenly became a vegetarian and remained so for over four years. Here's what I found with alot of experimentation:

                        Indian food - awesome flavors - red lentil dahl fills up the house with a smell similar to frying pork chops. Any meat eater would enjoy.

                        Eggplant parmeasan. -you get a cutlet on your plate with pasta and red sauce and you're happy.

                        TVP - but don't use it directly as is or it taste like cereal exploded in your dish. pre-soak it with a mixture of stock, soy sauce, herbs and spices according to the dish you intend to make. Then squeeze it out and mix it with starch or egg and pan fry it like you would ground meat. This seals it, flavors it and keeps it from turning to mush in your dish.

                        Gluten- (sometimes found under the name seitan). It's not hard to make your own gluten by kneading unbleached or whole wheat dough ball under water in a bowl. Keep changing the water until it remains clear. What is left is gluten. It can then be braised for an hour of so in the stock of your choice to create a flavoured meat substitute. I used to make gluten and then incorporate it into other things like vegetarian sausage or burgers.
                        vegetarian sausage was my own invention - do some research on sausage recipes to find the seasoning you want - italian, german, chorizo, andouille, etc. Use that seasoning to prep some TVP. Finely chop (1/4") some gluten and mix with the seasoned TVP, some starch or egg and more of the seasonings. get sheets of plastic wrap and tightly wrap some individual sausage shaped links. Drop into boiling water for 5-10 min. Pull them out and cool. You can freeze these. Use them like regular sausage. Pan fry, or slice and pan fry again. They are really good as long as you season them well.
                        They wont fool anybody, but they should be impressed with your skill in the kitchen.
                        Shortcut - buy him a bag of jerky or tell him to grab a burger on the way home.:)

                        1. What about risotto? Either a light asparagus or pea, or even a hearty mushroom. Include a salad or some summer veggies as a side and in my opinion you will have an excellent meal. Would he enjoy a chilled summer soup or a Zuni-type bread salad? Homemade pizza could also be fun.

                          1. I want you to really think about this thing. Is this a difference that is just preference, and you both will be able to be flexible and respectful? Or are you too grossed out by it/ values run counter to it and will it be a problem in the relationship?

                            Cook lasagne for him, with good garlic bread, Nice salad, and talk about it.

                            1. Your goal should not be to turn him to the Dark Side, or preach about your way of life. There are so many dishes that people take for granted that are naturally meat free.

                              Most Risoto options
                              Pesto pasta
                              Baked Zitti
                              Macaroni and Cheese
                              Do you eat fish or chix, you could prepare paella.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                                I was going to suggest leaning towards pasta. If it's a heavier dish, most people won't even miss the meat.

                              2. My carnivorous son lived with my vegetarian sister last summer (the odd couple) while he did an internship in MA and she refused to let him cook meat in her pans, so I sent a small George Foreman grill to him so he could cook a steak, chicken breast, burger, etc. to supplement the vegetables she made. It worked out very well for both.

                                1 Reply
                                1. Yes, my caveman husband grunts if there isn't meat at the table, but a lot of the suggested dishes have lots of cheese and somehow the strands of melted goo appease the carnivore in him and he doesn't even notice the meat isn't there. Eggplant parmesan is delicious and quite "hearty" in a "meaty" kind of way.

                                  1. Do you know the things he likes to eat? My guess is you want to cook something he will enjoy. Stick with what you know, and if you want to include meat, get his opinion...

                                    I can't see my meat loving husband struggling to enjoy a grilled portabella burger or tofurkey loaf, but maybe your guy will be happy with a change... ask him!

                                    1. Wouldn't it be simple just to have discrete pieces in a help-yourself format? Broil a steak and some big portobellos. He eats the steak, you eat the mushrooms. Or bake some chicken breasts and some assorted bakeable vegetables (Idaho potatoes, acorn squash on the half-shell etc) and have a salad. He eats the chicken and whatever vegetables he wants, you eat vegetables.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Querencia

                                        I think the OP said that they don't want to cook it either. I love meat but I still hate touching chicken so it must be even worse for them!

                                      2. Could use some more info on what level of vegetarian you are catering to. May can accept or decline
                                        Dairy, milk and milk products as cheeses.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: phantomdoc

                                          The poster is the vegi, her boyfriend is not.

                                        2. My man is a vegetarian and I like pork. I mainly cook veggie as it is easier, cheaper, etc. I agree with above posters in eschewing fake meats, tvps, etc.

                                          Butternut squash lasagne from epicurious, hearty, creamy.
                                          Mark bittmans veg paella. I often crack a few eggs on it before putting in the oven
                                          a cheese souffle

                                          1. My suggestion is to make a nice hearty vegetarian dish like risotto... and buy a packet of that pre-cooked, pre-sliced chicken breast for the carnivore to add directly to his plate if he thinks the meal isn't complete without animal protein. No cooking or meat-handling required. As a carnivore, I'm just not quite satisfied by a main meal that doesn't include a touch of meat, and DH flat out refuses to eat anything without it!