How to be a Vegetarian in a Meat Eating Family

pasta and vegetables

So many people are opting to become vegetarians for a variety of reasons. For some it is an easy decision, especially if you are single. For others the difficulty lies in how to be a Vegetarian in a meat eating family.

You thought about it.  You did your research, weighed the pros and cons and was convinced about the many benefits.  You even bounced the idea off a few friends and finally you made your decision.

You were going to become a vegetarian.

But then the big question hit.

What will my family think?

They love their meat and they eat a lot of it……..everyday.

Here are some suggestions on how to be a vegetarian in a meat eating family.



First of all, accept that there will be challenges.

The family may not agree with your decision because

  • They may think this is just a fad.
  • They worry that you won’t have enough to eat.

You might want them to try your new diet but

  • they are skeptical of trying new foods. They stick to the tried and true…….what they have known all their lives.


  • they love the taste of meat and don’t want to do without it.
  • they keep comparing the taste of the vegetarian foods to meat.


vegetarian mealIncidentally, that is a common occurrence which often leads to persons not accepting the vegetarian diet. For example they taste veggie mince and expect it to taste like beef or they taste any of the vegetarian foods and expect it to taste like the meat which they are accustomed to eating.

Well it won’t.

Because it isn’t.


One just has to accept that this is something different, with its own unique taste. Then they will be able to appreciate the healthy and delicious menus that do not include meat.

Challenge in the Kitchen

Cooking becomes a challenge when you have to be doing different menus and you have to wait for the others to finish so you can get the use of the stove.


How will you overcome the difficulties of being a vegetarian in a meat eating family?

Well the first obstacle is………….

How to Break the News

  • Explain to your family why you have made the decision (save the animals, health reasons etc.)
  • Assure them that it is your decision and that you are not forcing them to join you in your new lifestyle. (You have no intention of throwing their meat in the garbage)


So how do you co-exist with your meat eating family……….

without feeling left out at the dinner table.

Volunteer in the kitchen.

  • Don’t let your family feel pressured trying to figure out what to prepare for you to eat. Help in the preparation of the meals and also in the preparation of the grocery list.
  • Prepare side dishes that are vegetarian.

And what may that be, you ask?

Have you ever seen those wonderful Christmas or Thanksgiving or “Whatever other special occasion” menu which describes a beautiful roast chicken or something of the sort and it says something like

Serve it with: Sweet Potato Casserole with Gingersnap Cookie Topping; Peas, Carrots, and Mushrooms; and Green Beans with Lime

Well guess what. Just minus the chicken and  “Serve it with” are the wonderful side dishes that all vegetarians can eat.

Not to mention Mac and Cheese (if you are lacto-vegetarian) and the fantastic vegetable lasagna on the side as well. Did we leave out the corn on the cob and all those vegetable salads? Yes….lots of stuff to eat.

Prepare menus where the meat can be added after.

You start off with a vegetarian recipe and then for the meat eaters you simply add chicken, fish or whatever meat they choose.


  • Stir fried noodles and vegetables
  • Red bean stew
  • Breakfast burritos with seasoned mushrooms, stuffed with all sorts of vegetables of your choice and hearty black beans…..egg if you are ovo-vegetarian.  Who even wants to add meat after that.
  • Pasta salad

………..and the list goes on.


Substitute the meat in the menu for any of several vegetarian substitutes such as tofu, mushroom, legumes in its many forms and commercially prepared meat substitutes.

Don’t forget soups. There are many types and they are enjoyed by vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.

fruits and vegetables


Encourage your family to increase fruits and vegetables in their diet. As they pile more veggies on their plates they will also likely reduce the amount of meat on the plate. Even if they don’t decrease the amount of meat, the increase in fruits and vegetables will have a positive impact on their health.


What you shouldn’t do.

Don’t come with a “high and mighty” attitude.

Don’t try to force you beliefs or decisions on the rest of the family.

Don’t keep harping and ridiculing them for their diet choices.

Don’t be upset at them because they keep harping and ridiculing you about your diet choices.


Don’t despair.  It can be done.

Even though there may be challenges, you can overcome them and succeed in being a vegetarian in a meat eating family.


What do you think?

I would love to hear your thoughts or experiences on this topic.


9 thoughts on “How to be a Vegetarian in a Meat Eating Family”

  1. This is a well-thought out article Anne, so thank you so much for it. I highly agree with you about breaking the news to your family first, as this is the first step to overcoming almost any obstacle.

    While I like the substitutes that you have outlined for us as well. Mushroom AND tofu are both incredibly nice, well I enjoy them anyway. Although I’m not a vegetarian, I do know a lot of people that will benefit from this post, so I’ll be sharing it with my friends right now!

    Thanks for the helpful info,

  2. If I ever wanted to go vegan, I know who to call. Oh, and the breakfast burrito with seasoned mushroom gets MVP ~Most Valuable Plate~ hands down.

  3. Man it would really be tough to be a vegetarian in a meat eating family. These are extremely helpful. Even though I’m not one myself it makes perfect sense. My dad is one, I’ll send him this way.

  4. Hi Anne, great post! I am not a vegetarian, but love fruits and vegetables so much. As a veggies lover, it is a big challenge when family members are big meat eater.
    I would like to know the detail benefits of vegetables and want to show them.
    Sure, I will come back for more information.

  5. Being somehow in the same niche as you, your article was made really well and explained how to really be a vegetarian in a meat-eating family. I like how there’s a step by step process in breaking this to the family because some of them might react negatively to it and thus, be unmotivating you to keep up in being a vegetarian. But if done right, you’ll be able to convince them into joining you by eating healthy as well! I like this review of yours and it would look beneficial for anyone who wants to be vegetarian 🙂

  6. Hello, Freddie/Anne, I am a type 2 diabetic, and I understand the vegetarian diet that you eat. Yes, it is entirely healthy, and I am all for it. All the power to you. My diet is Low Carb High Fat which means eliminating sugar (sucrose) and anything that has sugar in it like fruits.
    I can still eat meat but choose to eat fish and chicken only, cooked in butter. The wife eats her food which is high carb based, but she does not have diabetes until she does, eat whatever the hell you want. Thanks for the post. Jimmy.

  7. Hi Anne,
    Thanks for this post – I can imagine it must be very difficult to be a vegetarian in a meat eating family. I personally have thought about trying to be a vegetarian, but just can’t quite seem to make the jump. These are some good tips if I decide to do it!

  8. Thank you so much for your comments. It is really challenging especially if you are the only vegetarian in a meat eating family but as you can see, it is do-able. I hope this article will prove beneficial as you share them with your friends and family.


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