Many couples start their marriage with completely different food preferences?or one of them initiates a change during the marriage. If you find that your husband?or even the whole family?prefers meat while you want to go vegetarian, try these six tips.
1. Don't push or nag.
In the same way we should share our faith with others, we should encourage those we love toward a healthier lifestyle. Changes are accepted with open hearts when those changes have been launched from a spirit of gentleness.
When your husband sees that eating a vegetarian diet is important enough for you to make two meals at a time, he may begin to consider why it's important to you. When he sees the creative and colorful new dishes you're eating and stares at the standard meatball spaghetti you serve him, his curiosity may spark a taste test. As long as these things are done without compromising the quality of his meals, you may gradually see a change of heart.
This isn't to say that you shouldn't lovingly mention the health benefits of a changed diet. If you haven't already done so, arm yourself with knowledge by doing plenty of research and fact-finding. Approach this area with the foundation of loving concern for the man with whom you want to spend many, many more years.
Here are some of the basic facts you should know: Vegetarians have, according to the American Dietetic Association, lower rates of death from heart disease, lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and prostate and colon cancers. They are also less likely to be obese than meat-eaters. Vegetarians and vegans live, on average, six to 10 years longer than meat-eaters.
2. Transition gradually.
Be patient, especially if your husband is hesitant. This will also give you time, especially if you're just starting out as a vegetarian, to learn new recipes, experiment with new foods, and carefully learn the act of balancing your nutrition. If you jump in too quickly, you may never hear the end of a lentil loaf you made.
3. Pay attention to your husband's cues.
No matter what your husband says about a certain dish, try to listen without being offended. Use his concerns (or complaints) as opportunities to find new recipes and items to try. If your husband expresses a serious dislike for, say, garbanzo beans, you can either find new ways to incorporate them or hold off and introduce them at a later date and in a new fashion. For the things he seems to like, find more ways to incorporate those ingredients into dishes while mixing in something new here and there.
4. Make it good!
Search your local library or the Internet for vegetarian recipes from well-known sources, such as Whole Foods Market, Food Network, and Organic Valley (and check out "Meatless Dishes for Meat-Lovers" on page 18 of this issue).
Definitely don't underestimate the power of spices! Experiment with different spices, seasonings, and sauces to infuse all of your meals with flavor. Go heavy on the onions and garlic, and use the freshest produce you can find.
5. Don't try tofu until much later!
Some things, such as tofu (and maybe lentils), might be best saved for after your husband has grown accustomed to beans, nuts, and different types of vegetables. Adding black beans to salads and soups, refried pinto beans to Mexican dishes, and peanuts to stir-fry helps provide protein in ways that are easier for newcomers to accept. After that, gradually shift over to trying dairy alternatives, such as soy, almond, or rice milk, nondairy cheeses, and protein crumbles. Even if you choose to maintain your dairy intake, occasionally alternating dairy with nondairy options can be helpful.
Once you've successfully introduced all of these, then attempt tofu. Make sure you have a really good recipe in which the tofu is marinated or saut?ed in a flavorful sauce and, if possible, try the recipe ahead of time.
6. Keep him balanced.
A vegetarian's diet should involve many fresh, natural foods such as fruits, leafy greens, and a wide assortment of vegetables; protein sources such as nuts, beans, and legumes; and dairy or dairy alternatives such as cheese and milk. Once these things are added to staple items such as pastas and breads, a vegetarian will more than likely receive an adequate amount of dietary fiber, protein, calcium, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Unless a vegetarian is consuming a lot of junk food, it's very difficult for them to be imbalanced.
No matter how long the journey takes you, know that God will bless your efforts. After all, we are commanded to maintain our bodies as a physical temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20). Helping your family follow this command is one of the most rewarding missions you will ever embark upon.