Becoming a Vegetarian

April 21, 2002

Try substituting expensive meat dinners with meals containing beans. Beans are cheap and full of protein.



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My 11 year old son has decided to cut meat out of his diet and become a vegetarian. I want to support him in this endeavor. My younger son has declared himself an omnivore so we don't have the option to change all meals for the family.

We don't eat a lot of meat and I can certainly make vegetarian versions of dinner recipes such as lasagna or soup, or serve the meat part on the side. But it is a challenge for sure.

I'm running out of ideas that are appealing for kids, especially for lunchtime. We pack lunches every day and PBJ sandwiches get old fast. I also want ideas for vegetarian dinners that the whole family will enjoy.

Thanks so much!

By Jess (TF Editor) from Hillsboro, OR


January 25, 20120 found this helpful

I personally don't eat meat or poultry, but I do eat fish, eggs and dairy products. So I believe I'll be able to answer your question. It's very important to have some type of protein in your diet and fish is very important and can take the place of meat. Your 11 year old son is wise and probably won't suffer heart disease in his later years.

There are companies that make soy food products. I've used Light Life soy crumbles in place of hamburger in chili recipes and you can't tell the difference in the taste. Also I have purchased soy lunch meats in the larger grocery stores that carry these foods. Boca sells veggie burgers, soy chicken patties, soy sausage, soy bacon, etc.

Call some grocery stores in your area and ask if they sell soy products.

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I have been living for about 25 years as a vegetarian, while everyone else in my house wants MEAT! They believe with their whole mind and heart that if they do not get meat, and lot's of meat for meals, then they have not been fed.

I am looking for ideas from others that might be in the same situation. I know I have adapted in different ways, but there still must be other ways of living with this better. One thing I do is to cook the meat separately and then let people add it to their meals (ie. spaghetti). The smell of cooking poultry makes me nauseous it has to be cooked outside.

I usually bring something with me that contains protein to eat when I am out. Something that has a mixture of grains, legumes, and nuts. I also keep one granola bar in my purse or car. I was recently diagnosed with diabetes so I now have to consider that when meal planning. Does anyone have additional advice to help please everyone during mealtimes. Thanks.

By Kathryn Visser from Rockford, MI


October 13, 20090 found this helpful

After 25 years of preparing/arranging meals for two types of people, you may already have thought of these ideas, but here goes anyway:
Perhaps you could buy already prepared chicken that won't nauseate you.
You already bring meat to the table so you and your family can still eat the same foods.

Have you made vegetable soup and add meat to part of the portion to please others and yourself?
While you are a strict vegetarian, family members can benefit by vegetables too.

Baked potatoes with frozen broccoli bits is a good option and family meat lovers can add bacon bits.
Serve with melted cheese the type you can have too and or sour cream.

What about a meat lover's pizza and a vegetarian pizza? There's usually a piece or two of leftovers for lunch. A beef pot roast with potatoes, green beans and carrots could also be made and you eat the veggies while others enjoy the meat with their meal.

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October 13, 20090 found this helpful

I've been a vegetarian for 30 years this year & I went through the very same thing when I remarried back in the mid 80's. My new husband thought it wasn't a meal without meat! Thankfully by that time my kids could either take meat or leave it, they just wanted good tasting foods. I found that if I could make something that tasted like meat but wasn't my husband would eat it & ask for more. My biggest success was with gluten "ribs".

These days you can simply buy the gluten, but back then you'd have to knead the wheat then leave it set in water overnight then rinse it in clean water for nearly an hour until only the protein part of the wheat is left. After you have only the stretchy gluten, you mix in a dab of peanut butter, some nutritional yeast, Worcestershire or some kind of steak or soy sauce. Then here's why you couldn't eat it being a diabetic: You line a cookie sheet with sides with oil (about 1/4 inch high) then stretch & twist pieces of your gluten into about a dozen strips that resemble ribs.

Cook in a 350 - 400 oven for about 1/2 hour to 45 min then slather on barbecue sauce & bake for another 20 minutes or so until the barbecue sauce has gotten sticky & slightly crispy. This is a super high fat & high sugar meal that my whole family begged me to make. I only made it for special occasions, but there was never any left after the meal because they loved it so much. I got the idea & recipe from "The Farms" Vegan cookbook that was written in the early 70's. (by "the Farm" in Tennessee, of Ina My & Stephen Glaskin fame if you know anything about Midwifery)

Here's a copy that was re-issued in 1988:
The New Farm Cookbook: (Affiliate Link)

Recipe for Gluten Ribs:(this one has less fat!)

My solution to the whole quandary was to add a tiny bit of meat to meals (like fried rice & spaghetti) then take mine out beforehand. Also, another idea is to have one day a week (the never know which day so they will be home) is Vegetarian meal day. This way they get to taste good vegetarian cooling & they may just find they love it. I also started "Vegitarian Fridays" at work so my colleagues would find out being a vegetarian wasn't half-bad! Though I never made a big deal about my eating habits, back in the 80's people I worked with teased & made fun of me, but now (30 years later) that science has found vegetarians live longer, I'm sure they are all eating their words!

It took me a long, long time to be able to stomach not only cutting up the meat but "ruining" my pans by cooking flesh. I never did get used to the smell of meat cooking. I'd make one of the meat-eaters in my family (usually my husband) clean & cut up the meat so I wouldn't have to touch it. The only meat I'd cook myself was ground meat I didn't have to handle.

My kids are now grown & thankfully I'm no longer with my ex, but I'm with another meat-eater. He makes his meals & I make mine. What can I say, it works for us! My daughter has raised her daughter to eat mostly vegetarian or at least organic meat & milk when she does rarely eat meat. But my youngest son (of the husband previously talked about) was raised with meat, so he's a big meat-eater. My other son could take it or leave it. He likes a good vegetarian meal or a steak. I believe if you're raised mostly vegetarian from a young age (like my daughter was) you'll most likely not love the taste or texture of meat.

I wish I could be of more help to you. My solution was, as the kids got older to have healthy things they could make for themselves in the house. They cooked for themselves except at night about 3 times a week when I'd try to cook something we all liked. But with you being a diabetic, you'll need to start thinking more about yourself & what you should eat. Your family will have to come around to your way of healthy eating or make their own meals!

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October 13, 20090 found this helpful

Hi there, I've been a veggie for many years, and I personally will not allow meat in my home (mine is a moral stand against cruelty to animals) - I also am a diabetic (have been for about 40 years) and doctors cannot believe how well I am - I believe it's all down to my veggie diet.

In Australia we have a company (called Sanitarium) that makes faux meat products from soy - there must be something like that in the US - you can have fakon (faux bacon), TVP (which is textured veggie protein and can be cooked in any way meat eaters might eat hamburger or minced beef) soy fillets (like chicken); soy burgers (which you would swear were meat); kebabs etc - some of which are pre prepared and so easy to cook - being a veggie is better for your health (my daughter is a medical scientist and you would not believe how many diseases meat eaters are prone too that veggies are not), more humane; and better for the planet (because livestock creates more pollution than industry it turns out).

There are even products from Asia that imitate fish and shell food (lots of Buddists!) so get on line and check out where you can get this stuff. Many people who have eaten at my house and have come to parties I have catered have said to me with confusion "I thought you were a vegetarian?" - they can't tell the difference. Good luck

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October 14, 20090 found this helpful

I am vegan but my husband occasionally eats fish and chicken outside of the home (usually because of work) but he does not want meat in the house as he finds it repulsive too. I do cook for friends sometimes who are meateaters and I end up making things like Chili with the fake soy ground round (no one will know, I promise!). You can do this with lasagna and other dishes where the soy ground is somewhat hidden. It makes a great Sheppard's Pie too. Personally I wouldn't allow meat in the house. If they want it, tell them to cook it themselves and that they can be responsible for making their own meals. Maybe then, they'll eat what you make. That's what I used to do with my husband before he stopped eating the stuff. I would just cook something and if he didn't want it, too bad. He could starve or cook something himself. He ended up loving almost everything I made and stopped eating meat because of how good he felt and how good everything tasted.

I've actually converted a lot of people to eat less meat because of how tasty the meals are that I make. Try this book: VEGANOMICON by Isa Chandra. Has amazing recipes, very easy and tasty stuff for anyone to enjoy!

I am almost 40 and people still think I am a student at university. My husband is 37 and looks 25. My naturopath said it's partially genes but also our diet. It's amazing what food can do for you. We are never sick and we are both slim and healthy. Maybe that will be an incentive for people to stop eating the stuff! :) Good luck!

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October 14, 20090 found this helpful

As a vegetarian for 25 years with a non vegetarian family, i found one good solution is to use a pressure cooker when making a lot of meat stew, spaghetti sauces, casseroles, etc. it cooks food quickly and doesn't make a lot of "meat" smell in the kitchen. Then when its cooked, the meat eating members of the family just serve themselves after I have eaten my food and left the kitchen, and they can tidy up after themselves too!

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October 14, 20090 found this helpful

My husband stops on his way home and gets his regular fix of fried chicken knowing I will have dinner fixed. I never say a word. If cooking poultry makes you sick-don't do it. Have your husband set up the grill and grill a weeks worth of meat at one time. Have him freeze this in zip lock bags or alumumn foil. It is easy to reheat smaller portions in the oven, croc pot or microwave. My husband knows that his diet is what makes him have his health issues while I have none. He is choosing this path and I have learned that it is not my responsibly to make all his choices for him. I also use TVP and my husband does not notice the difference.

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October 15, 20090 found this helpful

I sympathize. I've been a vegetarian for about 20 years and it's so hard to cook for people or to go to someone's home for a meal.

This year when I go to my daughter in law's for Thanksgiving, I'm bringing whatever she wants me to bring and I'm also making a vegetarian dish for me to eat. Of course I'll make enough for everyone, but I'm tired of being the only one who walks away from the Thanksgiving table still hungry!

I also can't stand the smell of meat and now I can't even look at commercials for meat on TV.

I also cook meat separately from the vegetables. If I make a roast chicken, I make double the about of vegetables and I roast them. I take any kind of vegetable - cabbage even, toss it with a little olive oil (or vegetable oil), salt and pepper, bake in a 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes and I'm done. I get plenty to eat and they need the vegetables anyway.

I order pizza from Pizza Hut, Pizza Inn without cheese on it and just ask for vegetables on it. I make a lot of bean dishes and lentil dishes.

Also and this really works; I take any kind of noodle recipe in a bag kind of product, cook it, but I add tons of vegetables to it. That way, my diabetic husband can have just a few carbs of noodles and lots of veggies.

I use frozen vegetables and rinse them before I use them; same thing with canned beans.

There are soy hot dogs, lunch meat, meatballs, chicken, you name it. I buy it in the produce section of my grocery sore.
You can but something called 'tempeh' which is fermented soybeans. It comes flavored sometimes, but I usually just buy the plain version. You can freeze it too. A normal packet has two servings and is high in fiber, low in carbs and calories, high in protein. Very filling. Sometimes I add it to the noodle type recipe I mentioned above, or just add it to tons of vegetables. You can fry it, bake it. It's very tasty and completely different from tofu.

I eat only raw nuts and no peanuts. Peanuts get moldy too often. Raw almonds and cashews - unsalted of course - are really delicious and much more satisfying that regular canned nuts.

Keep some nuts with you in the car. Lots of protein.

With the diabetic thing though you have to be careful. Your doctor should have signed you up and your insurance company should pay for it - my husband's doctor did this and our insurance company paid - for three sessions with a hospital nutritionist. She gave him binders with all sorts of food choices and of course their carb content. You can be a vegetarian and a diabetic.

If I'm not mistaken soy is low in carbs and there are tons of cookbooks for beginners available to look at at the library or buy.

At our local Whole Foods Market - and boy are their proud of their prices - you can also get flavored tofu. It comes in Italian, Chinese flavored and other flavors. Just slice it up or cub it and add some vegetables or put it in a salad. It can be baked,

Hard tofu (very firm tofu) can be fried-it's delicious but I don't know how it fits in with the diabetic part. You just have to make sure you drain the water our of it. Slice it lengthwise in 3-4 sliced, put lots of paper towels between each layer, put a glass pie pad on the top of the tofu (make sure it has paper towels on it, put a big can of tomatoes in the glass pie plate, put it in the refrigerator and keep checking it and change the paper towels out till you've gotten most of the water out. Ready to stir fry, fry or bake. Tofu takes on the flavors of what it's cooked with.

I always, always, always use disposable rubber gloves when I handle meat, fish at home. The are inexpensive and I buy them at Walgreens or CVS drugstores. When I buy meat at the grocery store I take an extra produce bag, put my hand in the bag like and glove and then pick up the meat with it. Then I have another produce bag that I immediately put the meat into where there are two plastic bags that hold the meat packet.

Consider yourself lucky - not about the diabetes part of course, I'm sorry about that. But I truly believe vegetarians don't age like meat eaters. I'm 53 and while I'm no raving beauty I don't look 53. People put me at 42-45.

Our teeth are not sharp; they are flat because we are grain eaters, not meat eaters. Carnivores have sharp teeth. They have shorter intestines that humans so the food doesn't stay in them as long as it does in us. Their stomach acids are stronger than ours so it digests meat faster, more effectively; not like our bodies at all. But you can't get meat eaters to believe you.

I use ground soy too and my husband never knows the difference. When I make scalloped potatoes or mashed potatoes, I use unflavored lite soy milk.
There is almond mil, oat milk.

There is soy cheese and all sorts of meat-like products that I believe are really low in carbs and calories. I buy these kinds of things in my local grocery store. Soy yogurt, rice cheese and rice milk, chocolate soy milk, vanilla soy milk.

If you want to find a Whole Foods Market by you, log onto and they'll tell you the nearest location to you. Bring your checkbook. I only buy certain things there now because I email my grocery store and ask them to stock the items I need as a vegetarian and 8 times out of 10 the products are on the shelves. I always get an email back from them.

I know you have a responsibility to care for your family and you seem like you take that seriously and I applaud you for it.

But please don't forget yourself. You have a responsibility to yourself also to take care of your health. If you can't care for yourself, you won't be able to care for the people you love.

You know my husband is diabetic and has lost 300 pounds at three separate times in his life. He recently lost 90 pounds - this is his third time - and now he's practically a vegetarian himself now. He can't stand to look at the TV when they're meat on it and the smell of it cooking makes him nauseous now! Who knows? You may convert your family - eventually....

I also love Boca Burgers - frozen food section of grocery store. They come in different flavors but my favorite is the original. Check out the frozen section and you'll see that there's lots of different vegetarian breakfast, sausages, etc. Also Boca Burgers can be microwaved, baked, pan cooked in a non stick pan with a little Pam or oil in the pan. they cook in less than 5 minutes.

When my husband did eat meat, I did like the other people suggested on this site. I made chicken, meat loaf, etc. and froze them individually. Then I made side dishes too and ate the size dishes with some kind of protein.

Good luck to you Sweetie and God bless you and your family. Maybe you have the kind of diabetes that can be managed by food intake and not by medication; I hope so. Keep up the fight! You have rights as a vegetarian just like meat eaters do! You go girl!

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I'm thinking about going vegetarian. If you knew me you would think I already am. I'm always eating fruits and veggies. I hardly eat meat, never eat eggs and I drink soy milk. I don't drink carbonated drinks, mostly water. I exercise daily. I was wondering if anyone can tell me about the different kinds of vegetarians and what they can eat and drink. Thanks



By Michelle (Guest Post)
August 8, 20080 found this helpful

Vegetarian: no meat/animal flesh of any kind.
Lacto or ovo vetetarians eat dairy or milk. For example, a lacto-ovo veg eats both. A lacto veg eats dairy but no eggs.
A vegan eats no animal products of any kind, including things like honey. Many will not use leather in their clothing, etc.
A pescetarian eats no flesh except fish/shellfish.

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August 8, 20080 found this helpful

It sounds like you eat as your body requests/craves you to and that is quite healthy. My question would be your reason for considering being vegetarian if what you already do is keeping you healthy.

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August 9, 20080 found this helpful

In "Nourishing Traditions" Sally Fallon cites several studies that showed that vegetarians were subject to up to 191% more of certain cancers. I don't think it takes a lot of meat to move you out of that category. Something to think about.

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August 10, 20080 found this helpful

I've been a lacto vegetarian for 30 years now. I eat EXACTLY what I want except that I leave out meat, fish and eggs (if possible). You don't HAVE to eat certain foods or avoid others because they are not "healthy". I eat junk food sometimes and balance with healthy foods another time. There is no hard and fast rule. being vegetarian doesn't mean being a martyr. My first veggie cook book was: THE JUNK FOOD VEGETARIAN written by JONATHAN CAINER. It's brilliant, easy and sensible recipes started me on the road, never looked back since. I still enjoy my BIG block of cadburys whole nut milk chocolate and my cream donuts occasionally too!

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By Linda. (Guest Post)
August 10, 20080 found this helpful

Whatever type of vegetarian you become, be sure you get a balanced diet with enough protein. If you go vegan, this is VERY hard to do without some specific, concrete knowledge of what your body needs to stay healthy. Be careful whenever you cut out whole food groups for any reason-people were created to be omnivores for a reason-don't mess with Mother Nature-or at least don't challenge her without a lot of knowledge!

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August 11, 20080 found this helpful

Can some one tell me more about lacto- vegitarians?

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August 11, 20080 found this helpful

I have been a vegetarian for 31 years. There are lots of places to get protein once you start investigating. Some vegetarian cookbooks are a wealth of information, even if you think you'll pass on most of the recipes.....

My best advice is to be careful not to wind up overloading on carbs, which is easy to do when you're eliminating a whole food group. A life-time of excess carbs will lead you to gaining weight and not being as healthy as you were aiming for.

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August 16, 20080 found this helpful

I saved money & time when I was a vegetarian. I went that route for 9 years - no meat, fish or poultry - yes to eggs & cheese. I was thinner too. I think I was missing something - maybe B vitamins, as my hair became thinner & less vibrant. I also started to be depressed. I was taking too many vitamins & prescriptions. I seem to be healthier with some meat. I hope it works out well for you.

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