Thursday, December 30, 2010

Being the Only Vegetarian in the House

This book would not be found at my house-house, but it's at my school-house.

Though there are tons of things I love about being at home, one of the worst things about being at home is that I'm the only vegetarian in the house.  (Even at school, strangely enough, three out of the six of us are vegetarians.)  The thing about being at home is that you're at least slightly subjected to things that your family wants to do.  Everyone's going to a steakhouse because it's your dad's birthday?  You're kind of stuck with at least going.  It doesn't help that my mother is convinced that I'm suffering from protein deficiency because I don't eat meat and that my family thinks I'm crazy.

So here are the things that I've found to help me deal with my family's eating habits.
  • Emphasize side dishes.  No one (not my family at least) eats just a steak for dinner.  I'm fine with eating just the grain and veggie side dishes.  There are tons of vegetarian side dishes that would go with any main dish, so you should be covered on this front.
  • Go grocery shopping with the person who does the grocery shopping.  This way you can put in your input and can also help to decide how and what to cook.
  • Develop the menu with the primary chef.  If you can put your input into what's for dinner that night, you're more likely to be happy with the meal.
  • Help with the cooking.  This way you'll know what's going into the food and there won't be any reasons for arguing later.
  • Be clear about your eating rules.  Just like diets, there are tons of ways that people are vegetarians. There are vegetarians who may eat eggs, dairy products, other animal products, animal byproducts, etc.  It's important that you're clear with regards to where you stand.
  • Be willing to compromise.  No one is saying that you have to eat fried chicken wings if you're a vegetarian, but there are definitely ways that I compromise when I'm at home.  I rarely eat fish when I'm on my own (so technically I'm more of a pescetarian) but when I'm at home I'll eat seafood a little more frequently.  I don't eat any meat products when I'm on my own, but I will eat, for example, stuffed zucchini that my mother made with a little bit of chicken stock.  [Note: I think this point is much easier for me than it might be for others because I am a vegetarian because of environmental, rather than ethical, issues.]
Eating while you're the only vegetarian doesn't have to be a total chore.  Eating is humanity's oldest cultural activity, and it's meant to be communal.  (At an Asian home like mine, eating together is the only way we eat!)  Having different eating habits doesn't mean you have to eat alone.


  1. I like your point of view on this topic. It is refreshing. Happy New Year!

  2. Yep, I grew up on side dish entrees, being the only veg in the house. I also joined in in the kitchen a bit younger so I could influence what we made!

    Usually we just took my food out of whatever we were making before the meat was added. My mom was really great about this, I have to say.

  3. This is so well put. My husband and I are going vegetarian and while I've never been a huge meat eater my family probably has the mentality of yours.

  4. These are really good tips!
    I know the feeling, I'm the only one in my family as well!! So I kind of follow along with what you do, I eat the side dishes and occassionaly will eat fish to my mother's relief :) {I don't know why she STILL worries about my health, after three years you'd think she'd realized I'm healthier now than I ever was before!}