How to Eat Vegetarian Food when Your Family Eats Meat

Being a vegetarian in a carnivorous family can be difficult, but it is doable. And with these steps, you may find it a lot easier and enjoyable to be a vegetarian.


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    Talk to your family about your reasoning behind becoming vegetarian. They will appreciate your conviction to either animal welfare, healthy eating, or whatever reason you may have.
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    Educate yourself and your family about vegetarian options. Go to the grocery store and check out some of the meat substitutes. There are some incredible things like “Vegan Roasts” and “Soy-rizo”, that unless you look for, you might never know exist.
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    Create a list of items for the grocery shopper to buy. Things that a vegetarian might eat as main dishes (nuts, vegetables, cheeses, fruit) might be side dishes for the family and bought less often.
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    Look for vegetarian options in restaurants. It may sound tricky, depending on the restaurant cuisine, but with creativity, there's a lot of food choices out there. Appetizer salads, vegetarian chilli, or veggie burgers are some examples. Several fast food restaurants offer vegetarian-friendly items, such as Taco Bell with their bean burritos or Mexican Pizza (omit the meat and cheese) or Burger King with their "BK Veggie". Always feel free to ask the person at the counter, a manager, or the waiter for vegetarian menu choices.
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    Find dishes that are equally meat and veggie friendly. Examples of this include build your own burrito/tacos, using items like beans, veggies, and cheeses as vegetarian proteins, but things that the whole family will enjoy. It is also fun to do a build your own pizza night, because, like burritos and tacos, 95% of the ingredients are something that everyone can eat. Soups are also a great example as there are plenty of amazing vegetarian soups that are easy to make (or buy!). Broccoli and cheese, hot and sour, minestrone, lentil, and tomato bisque all are enjoyable to both carnivores and vegetarians. Creative salads that use fruits, nuts, and cheese are easy to make and delicious. If they are really attached to their chicken, beef, or pork, it can always be cooked separately and added later on.
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    Offer to cook, or help to cook, dinner. Get into doing your own grocery shopping. This creates a balance between yourself, as a vegetarian, and your needs. Create a separate space in the pantry, freezer, and refrigerator for your own food. This way, if you want to eat a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch or a cream of mushroom dish with pasta, it's available to you. Even if you have no skills in the kitchen, whoever the chef may be, will appreciate your suggestions and help. Post a list of meal suggestions on the refrigerator to help remind the family that you aren’t just refusing to eat meat, but are helping with dinner ideas.
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    Talk with your parents in setting aside a day where the entire family eats faux meat or a meatless meal. Faux meat has the same texture and looks as regular meat, but uses a textured soy protein. You may be more relaxed as far as planning meals for yourself for a day in the week.
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    Come up with some great recipes that everyone can enjoy. Seitan is a great substitute for meat eaters, try it as a meat replacement in BBQ. Tempeh, if seasoned correctly, can be an amazing replacement to ground beef. Try cooking with peppers, onions, and spices like blackening seasoning to create a tasty and healthy alternative in tacos or even lasagnas. Look up recipes online (or in cookbooks), and check out the comments from people who have tried them with the meat eating friends and family.


  • Be open to trying new things. It is really hard to be a vegetarian if you are a picky eater. You family will resent your choice more if you will only eat pasta and bread. You need to prove to them that you want this for yourself, even if it's eating more fruits and vegetables than expected.
  • Adjust your vegetarian diet with dairy products. If it's too much bother with your parents in having an extra milk carton or butter container, think of the best solution for everyone.
  • Be sure to eat a wide spectrum of foods to reach all your nutrition needs.
  • If you ever crave meat, have some nuts. They are full of protein and can stop cravings.
  • Be educated and resourceful. Doing research online is the quickest and most easily accessible way to have “family meals”.
  • If you are a pescatarian(someone who doesn't eat meat but does eat seafood), there are many appetizing menu choices and dishes that contain seafood.


  • Don’t get too “high and mighty” about being meatless. They will only resent this, and make it harder for you to eat dinner with them.
  • Don’t be too pushy. If your family is completely against trying “scary” foods like tofu and tempeh, or they try them and still dislike them, then ask for suggestions for things they like that don’t contain meat (everyone loves a grilled cheese!) or what they would have changed in the recipe (besides adding meat) you made.
  • Be aware that fast food restaurants tend to fry fries and meat products (such as chicken nuggets) in the same oil. It's best to do your research and make a list of restaurants that do this. You can always ask a manager in person, browse vegetarian blogs/websites concerning food preparation in a fast food restaurant, etc. Many fast food menus that have "side orders/dishes", for example, mashed potatoes (with or without butter/milk), rice pilau, or steamed vegetables, will be more of an interest to vegetarians rather than the full menu.
  • While vegetarianism has many benefits, some vegetarians are protein-deficient due to the lack of meat in their diet. Be sure to eat plenty of eggs, nuts, and other protein-rich foods to make sure you get enough.

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Categories: Vegetarian