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KatawaGrey's avatar

How can I encourage my boyfriend to try some vegetarian dishes?

Asked by KatawaGrey (21456points) December 28th, 2008

Sometimes when we go out, we’ll have the option between a vegetarian or mostly vegetarian restaurant or a regular restaurant and he always chooses the regular restaurant. Normally this isn’t a problem, but last time this happened we ended up eating at a place where I could eat only two things on the menu. Then, this afternoon, I spoke of making him dinner and he didn’t like the idea because I will only cook vegetarian. I’m not looking to turn him into a vegetarian or even reduce his meat consumption, but I would like to have greater choice when eating out every once in a while and I would like to make him a meal sometime.

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26 Answers

dynamicduo's avatar

Make an Indian dish or two if he likes it. Buy or cook a bread (naan or roti), make rice, and make a vegetatian dish, maybe paneer (a cheese) with spinach and mushrooms, or dal (lentils). You could always make a meat dish for a side dish, butter chicken is a great accompanyment. Alternatively, go to an Indian buffet. I find the cuisine is so delicious and it makes me want to try other cuisine’s vegetarian items, such as falafel shawarma.

peedub's avatar

Does he like Indian cuisine? I’m a meat eater but find that I often prefer the vegetarian options when eating Indian.

[you totally beat me to it]

srtlhill's avatar

He should try some when you do if he wants to share things with you. This could be an indicator of how open minded he is to trying new things. Baby steps a few bites at different times. Good luck. Besides if it’s something your interested in he should show some intrest.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

We went through Lent one year not eating meat on Fridays, but not eating fish. As a result, we can pretty eat meat 2–3 times a week with no problem.
Favorites that no one seems to miss the meat:
Vegetable lasagna
Fettucini Alfredo
Fried Rice
Nav Ratan Korma
Bean Burritos
Spaghetti or ravioli with marinara sauce
Red beans and Rice

If you just serve it without calling attention to the fact that there isn’t meat in it, it generally gets eaten.

Jeruba's avatar

At this moment my son is in the kitchen stir-frying some vegetables along with seitan and tofu. The seitan is very dense, chewy, and meaty. The other night he made alu matar, which filled us right up. I think the secret is to make something that has the mouth-feel of meat and is as flavorful and filling. That will help get him past the idea that vegetarian food tastes thin and leaves you hungry.

Portobello mushrooms also have that hearty, meaty quality and help a carnivore forget what he is or isn’t eating.

bob's avatar

The trouble here is not that delicious vegetarian dishes are difficult to find, but that the boyfriend is acting like a jackass.

Someone should point out to him that it’s rude to refuse to let someone cook for you, and that it’s ridiculous to force a vegetarian to go to an unfriendly restaurant every time. Compromise and open-mindedness and mutual respect are all called for. Good luck.

Jeruba's avatar

Well—good point, Bob. The reason my son has mastered numerous vegetarian and vegan dishes is that even though he is a meat-eater, his girlfriend is vegan, and he wants to be able to cook for her.

I always told him that the way to a woman’s heart is through her stomach.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@bob: that’s actually more than a little harsh. He’s not a jackass, he’s just a little set in his ways, as are we all.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Many of my friend’s children spent their childhood eating dinner in the back seat of a minivan, on the way to one sports practice, lesson or their sibling’s practices/lessons. As a result, they are not adventurous eaters, and have had to learn to eat things they’re not familiar with during their college years. Food is both fun and social, so most to cultivate diverse eating habits with a little exposure.

Perhaps, katawa, a new years resolution could be to learn about world cultures through their food, and to eat at local ethnic eateries.Reducing meat consumption can lower your food costs, which is always good, and eliminating red meat is good for your joints, or so my neighbor tells me.

Noon's avatar

Tell him, “I would really enjoy going to a restaurant where I have more options.”
If he says “No”, then the problems are worse than eating habbits.

I also second Bob, a gifted meal is a gifted meal, and a gifted meal from a loved one should never be turned down. But if he is one of those meat-and-potatoes, the-meal-ain’t-done-till-I’ve-had-some-meat kind of people. Then you might want to consider including some meat in the meal you make for him.

emilyrose's avatar

@katawa—I agree that maybe jackass is a strong term, but it does sound like he isn’t being very open minded or gracious. You may consider tricking him. I don’t mean this in an awful way, but here’s an example. Get the fake ground meat (there are a couple good brands but don’t get the one that comes in a cylinder shape—it taste awful!) like good ground or something like that (I think that’s what it’s called). Tell him you’re making tacos. Feed him the good ground. He’ll love it. Then show him the package. I did that for my dad and now he asks me to make it for him whenever I’m home.

But seriously, why don’t you let him know that it would mean a lot to you to go to a veggie friendly restaurant half the time, and that you’d like to cook for him a couple days a week.

bob's avatar

@katawa: You’re right, jackass is too strong a word. Sorry about that. I’d revise that to say it sounds like he’s being inconsiderate. I’m not sure how to make him less set in his ways, but you should know that it’s not asking too much to go to a semi-vegetarian restaurant once in a while.

laureth's avatar

Are there any restaurants in the area that have only one or two meaty dishes? Perhaps that will show, in a more brain-impacting way, what you go through each time. (In my area, the best veg restaurant in town is a Chinese place with two separate kitchens, one veg one meat, so both people are happy.)

Failing that, I like Alfreda’s suggestion of just making something good, and not making a big deal about it being veg. He’ll either eat it or he won’t, and if he doesn’t, he can fry up his own hamburger or whatever. I know I’d rather have something sumptuous and vegetarian that someone else made rather than make my own, sad little burger. :)

Or, if you make something like a stir fry, just make a vegetarian one which you can eat, but have some precooked chicken chunks or something in the fridge that can be tossed on top of his, if that’s all it takes to make him happy with a stir-fry. Same with some ground meat for a sauce or something.

DandyDear711's avatar

Make him lasagna – without meat… add eggplant etc. If you are vegan it maybe harder to find a recipe he likes. What about make your own tacos or burritos… you can put in what you want and have him cook the hamburger or chicken.

simpleD's avatar

I’m not sure that offering meat-like substitues alone will convince this guy. Most of my friends have reacted negatively to that—“Yuck! That does not taste like meat!” In fact, a study has shown that even if two foods tastes the same, cultural factors influence our preference. People believe that having meat at every meal is a status symbol. Without it, people feel like they are lowering themselves, or are being cheated out of what they deserve. Here is a summary from Ars Technica.

I think a cultural awareness strategy is in order. Expose him to the myriad of ethnic dishes that are made with little or no meat. Eggplant Parmesian, meatless pizzas and pastas, indian, mexican, japanese, chinese, middle eastern—the list is endless.

And if he still won’t believe that he can be an American without eating meat, have him look at cattle-rancher-turned-vegan Howard Lyman, the Mad Cowboy.

okgowireless's avatar

cook him something vegetarian and dont tell him

Sueanne_Tremendous's avatar

Offer to serve it to him in the nude. It usually works.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@sueanne: Actually, of all these suggestions, that one might be the most effective…

I kid. These are all great suggestions. Though using nudity as bribery does work quite well…

nikipedia's avatar

I just want to second the idea that the problem here is not vegetarian food, the problem here is your dude’s attitude. Any question that boils down to “how can I make someone do something they don’t want to do?” has only one answer: you can’t.

And for what it’s worth, I think he’s being pretty darn disrespectful, selfish, and inconsiderate. I don’t know if that’s better or worse than “jackass.”

Jeruba's avatar

I was assuming that this boyfriend is very young. KG is still a student, by her profile. Yet “set in his ways” sounds like something you say about an older person. How set can you be if you’re under 30? You’re still growing up.

Maturity may well be a factor in this equation. I think the art of compromise and the importance of consideration are more likely to be the fruits of age. If he’s 50, he may understand something about give and take; if he’s 25, perhaps he thinks he doesn’t have to.

nessah's avatar

Use quorn or just don’t tell him at all what you are cooking. If it’s tasty and filling they won’t notice believe me I have had my other half eating loads of vegetarian dishes whithout even realising it for years now. Top Tip add lots of spice and heat, always works. Good luck

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

You can be pretty set, Jeruba. I’m an excellent cook, and my daughter’s last boyfriend wouldn’t eat anything I made that had “combined ingredients” in it—no soups, chili, casseroles, etc. because of some stupid joke he heard in middle school. It would make me angry. We’d invite him for dinner, and he’d bring a bag of McDonald’s with him, or I’d have to cook single ingredient items.

Jeruba's avatar

@Alfreda, your daughter’s last boyfriend was unconscionably rude and ought to have been spanked. Glad to know he’s an ex.

Bet there were a few things “combined” in that burger.

Jack79's avatar

…put meat in them? :)

I’m a meat addict, but I do like chinese food, and it’s the only way I’ll eat vegetables (if they’re in a fried rice combo). I will sometimes eat the odd raw carrot, but there’s no way you can feed me boiled broccoli, even if it’s a choice between that and my daughter’s used diaper.

bob's avatar

don’t boil your broccoli, people.

Kardamom's avatar

You might want to think long and hard if this is the right mate for you. It does sound like your boyfriend is being close minded and inconsiderate. You regularly go to restaurants where meat is served and find something to eat and don’t make a big deal of it. You do that because you are regarding his feelings. He hasn’t done the same for you. Try to have a nice chat with him and explain to him that being a vegetarian is very important to you and you don’t expect him to become a vegetarian, but you also think it’s important for him to be willing to meet you half way (meaning occasionally dining at restaurants where your diet is better accomodated). Remind him that eating vegetables will never violate his ethical beliefs, but eating meat likely would compromise your beliefs.

There are plenty of things to eat that are normal “American” food that do not contain meat: macaroni and cheese, spaghetti marinara, bean burritos, cheese or vegetable lasagne, falafel, stuffed grape leaves, cheese enchiladas, tostadas, grilled cheese sandwiches, mushroom pizza. There’s also lots of vegetarian versions of meat filled dishes that he could at least try every now and then. Go online and find a list of 20 restaurants where you think you and he could go together and be satisfied and present them to him as places that you would like to start going, maybe every 5th time. Tell him that you won’t force him, but make it clear that it’s important for you to feel like you are equally regarded in the relationship. Then it’s up to you to figure out if you can wait awhile for him to start being more respectful or not.

My best friend’s boyfriend was a strict meat and potatoes guy for the first 2 years of their relationship. She never bitched at him, but showed him by example how good a vegetarian diet can be (health wise and taste wise). He eventually got curious, educated himself and became a vegetarian. I wouldn’t expect that transformation, but if he isn’t even willing to meet you half way with the restaurant thing, then you should consider if this guy is a good match for you.

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