Vegetarian Wife with Non-Veg Husband

Wife goes vegetarian, needs help feeding her non-veg husband

Healthy Digestion

For about the past year, I have been having very painful digestive issues.

Approximately 20 minutes after eating, i get horrible stomach cramps and one way or another, that food is coming back out. I have pinpointed it to meats, fatty foods, fried foods, heavy creams and greasy cheeses.

I have been to the doctor multiple times and they can not give me any answers. I have completely cut the above foods out of my diet and consider myself to now be a vegetarian.

There is only one problem: my husband is not vegetarian and now I find myself unsure of what to make for dinner every night.

I do not want to force my unfortunate diet on him, so I make him dinner first. he feels bad and tells me he can “grab something” but I don’t want him to come into unhealthy eating habits because I can’t eat what I cook for him anymore.

I am exhausted when I get home from work (we both have very demanding jobs) and I truly don’t know how to make vegetarian dishes (I grew up in a big italian family so the more meat the better). I worry that I am not getting the nutrients that I need and am worried about my overall health.

What are some quick, easy yet tasty dishes I can make that he can enjoy also but won’t make me sick?? Since I have cut out meat and greasy foods my stomach issues have subsided and this is definately a diet that I am going to make my lifestyle (I really don’t even miss meat).

I need help and guidance!!

Bethany S.

Hi Bethany,

Have you had tests such as an endoscopy, where they take pictures of your upper gi tract? That’s how I was diagnosed with bleeding ulcers 18 years ago. The conclusion was that I produce too much stomach acid.

Since then I’ve followed a restricted ayurvedic diet which sounds similar to what you’ve worked out for yourself.

So it makes perfect sense to me that you need to follow a strict vegetarian diet. But that doesn’t help you with your cooking problem!

I deal at length with this issue in my free report Veg/Non-Veg Eat Together. If you’d like to read it, here’s the link.

Basically, your different diets are not as big a deal as you think. There’s no need for you to make separate meals for your husband. And your diet isn’t unfortunate, it’s necessary.

Anybody can happily eat anything in a vegetarian diet, but the opposite – vegetarians eating meat – doesn’t work. So you need to base your cooking for both of you on the most restricted diet – yours. Fortunately, there are plenty of easy recipes on Savvy Vegetarian that you and your husband could eat together and enjoy.

You could also make soups and stews, grains and beans and lentils in quantity, and freeze or fridge them for quick easy meals. Take a look at the Savvy Vegetarian recipes and find some that you think will work for both of you – there are many recipe on Savvy Veg that are Italian style or can be adapted to an Italian diet.

Your husband could have meat on the side and be responsible for that part of the meal. Or he could add meat to his part of whatever you make. Take him up on his offer to help you, and his desire to make your life easier.

I know it’s a challenge to overcome your Italian upbringing, which says that you and you alone are responsible for feeding everybody in your household and making them happy and healthy with the food you provide. But for the sake of your own health and happiness, you need to step outside that box and create a new domestic paradigm that works for you.

You and your husband both work outside the home at demanding jobs and produce income. Doesn’t it make sense that you should both contribute to food production?

Even if his part is just buying and cooking the meat, maybe setting the table, and loading the dishwasher. I’m sure that your husband wants you to be rested, healthy and happy, and that he is capable of being much more flexible and generous than you’re allowing him to be.

Perhaps my approach wasn’t what you were expecting, but there really is no other solution that I can see, and I hope my advice helps you.

All the best, Judith Kingsbury

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7 Responses to “Vegetarian Wife with Non-Veg Husband”

  1. I am not a vegetarian, but many of the friends I often cook for are. Last year I lived with a vegetarian, and it was the best I’ve ever eaten; we made grocery shopping and cooking a bonding activity and meat seemed less and less necessary. Even living with omnivores now, and generally cooking just for myself, my eating habits still take inspiration from my old roommate and are more healthy and interesting for it.

  2. Savvy Veg says:

    Hi Margie, thanks very much for your helpful suggestions! I admire you for turning a challenge situation around and making it work for you.

  3. Margie says:

    Hi! I am also a vegetarian with a meat eating husband. I definitely understand what you are going through. First don’t see your diet as an unfortunate thing, eliminating meat from your diet will also eliminate many toxins that are inserted in your body and digestive tract through meat. I grew up with persistent digestive problems and cutting out meat and meat products has helped tremendously! At first I also didn’t really know how to make veg meals that were satisfying to my palate but with a little time and experimentation I have found things I enjoy and can alter for us both. My husband not only eats meat but he is an extremely picky eater, especially with healthy food so I choose ingredients that are easily interchangeable. For example Pita filled with hearty roasted veggies and tofu or veggie chik’n patty for me and a Pita filled with his preferred veggies and ground turkey for him. Or a simple pasta with a side of veggies for me and a pork chop for him with a large salad to share. There are many variations that won’t leave you having to cook two whole meals every night if you decide on one thing and make alterations accordingly. Hope this helps. Good luck!

  4. Savvy Veg says:

    Hi Brenda, thanks very much for your great practical day-to-day advice!

  5. I married a man that says “What’s better than meat? Meat” so introducing vegetables have been a chore. We started slowly and now he is starting to try new ones on his own. I do a lot of vegetarian/vegan cleansing so during the months that I eat extremely clean I only prepare the foods that are in line with my diet. When I was a strict vegetarian I would only prepare vegetarian at home, and my son could chose something different when we were out.

  6. Brenda says:

    I am the only vegetarian in my family (I went vegetarian in November of 2010). My husband and five kids are all still meat eaters and I am the one who does the cooking so I can definitely relate.

    I have a blog at http://www.veggiemomandthecarnivores.com where I post recipes I make. Some are vegetarian, some are meat recipes and some are ones that work for all of us.

    Sometimes I do cook things separately but other times I have found ways to have meals that work for all of us.

    I have cut out using ground beef for them and only use the vegetarian version since no one seems to notice the difference.

    Sometimes I just make a meal for them and warm up leftovers of my own food from the previous day.

    I do sometimes use frozen vegetarian meat substitutes (such as imitation chicken breasts). They are quick to heat up and then I can eat whatever sides we are having that night.

    I know some people really like a formal sit-down type of meal but you may sometimes want to consider more causal dinners such as breakfast items like pancakes and egg dishes (if you’re not vegan). Your husband could have meat on the side with these.

    There are some things that work well such as a pizza night (people can put on their own toppings), pasta night (easy enough for me to use my own sauce on my portion), submarine sandwiches (I just don’t put meat on mine). Stir fries can work if you use one pan for meat and one for veggies. We all use the veggies but they add the meat to theirs and I add beans to mine. Try to think of any recipes where the meat can be cooked separately and added at the end or put on the side.

    You may want to make good use of a slowcooker. One of your meals could be cooking in there and then when you get home you can make the meal for the other person.

    Hope that helps! Thinking it was going to be very diffiicult to cook different meals was a big reason it took me so long to become vegetarian but it was easier than I thought (although it definitely takes some planning!)

  7. Valerie says:

    My husband was the carnivore and I am the vegetarian. I planned all my meals around my food, then added a porkchop or whatever for him. After a while, he said not to buy any meat; he’d grab a hamburger if he felt like it. Now, he is a vegetarian; no pressure from me, he just saw the benefits.

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