Fear of Vegetarian Food

Why is it that some folks are so fearful of vegetarian meals. Example:

In Air Force Basic Training, there was a week in which one meal each day was an MRE. You were basically issued one for each day, and if you didn’t like what you got, you found someone to trade with or dealt with it. People acted like having to eat a vegetarian MRE was the most horrid thing imaginable. (Turned out that the veggie MRE’s were often better… I was more than just a little scared of the meat in the normal ones)

Why is it, for many non-vegetarians, the idea of a vegetarian meal is so repulsive? I love foods like felafel and Chick-nuggets (chickpea based “chicken” nuggets) not because of some ideology, but because they taste good. Others freak at the idea! Has it never occured to them that american classics like grilled chese and PBJ sandwiches are essentailly vegetarian meals (not necesarily healthy, but that’s not the point)

Any other non-veggies out there that enjoy a vegetarian meal?

Absolutely; at the recent staff Christmas dinner, I (pre)ordered the vegetarian option (I am most definitely NOT a vegetarian).
Tomato and basil soup, which was truly superb, followed by red pesto tart, new potatoes and salad.
Everybody else had to queue up at the carvery.

Often if you order the vegetarian option, you will get something that has been individually cooked to order fresh, as opposed to slopped out of a huge bulk pot, or thrown together on a production line.

My family is so weird about food. Mr. S and I like to try different cuisines, and we’re “semi-vegetarian” at home, in that we don’t HAVE to have meat at every meal. Even then, our home meat consumption is usually confined to deli meat for sandwiches, chicken broth in soups or risotto, a little ground beef in chili (or not, or mixed half-and-half with TVP), and fish or tuna once in a while. We might cook ham or turkey for a holiday meal, or get some cooked chicken for soup. But 75% of our meals are completely veggie. Even when we go out, we’re more likely to order pasta than a steak or burger.

For this, my family has labeled US as weird. Egads, our spaghetti sauce has no meat in it. My sister once made a face at us because “you guys like to eat weird things like roots.” (What the heck do you think a carrot is?) Foreign cuisine? Might as well eat turds, in their opinion. They’re scared to eat at our house, because we might cook them something weird. (For the record, we do tend to make more “traditional” meals when these people come over, and save the experimental, more interesting stuff for our friends.) They think we won’t want to eat out with them at places like Pizza Hut, that we have to go to some “weird” ethnic place. Um, people? We eat sandwiches and pizza and steak just like other people. We just don’t eat like that all the time, and we like to try new things, unlike you in your rut.

But yeah, what is it about people that don’t think it’s a meal unless there’s a slab of meat involved? One of our favorite meals is buttery garlic mashers with carrots, corn, and green beans on the side. It’s colorful and pretty on the plate, and it fills us up. Yum! But it’s not a “real meal”? Please.

Last summer my cousin’s wedding featured a gorgeous vegetarian hors d’oeuvre buffet (except for the salmon), as he and his new wife are both veggie. Everything was delicious, and Mr. S and I filled up. But the aunts and uncles spent the reception grousing about how they weren’t being fed, and my uncle who lived in the same city invited everyine over to his house afterward for burgers. :rolleyes:

We are having houseguests next weekend – traveling musicians we’ve gotten to know. Last time they stayed here, they loved the veggie meal we made for them, and told us that as veggies it’s really hard for them to find decent food on the road here in the midwest. (Sample diner order: “Uh, I’ll have the toast and a baked potato.”)

Mmmm, vegetarian food.

The other thing I forgot to mention is that proper vegetarian food offten tries so much harder to be tasty, which is great; instead of relying on a big salty chunk of meat for the flavour, there is a concerto of aromas and flavours; herbs, garlic, spices, marinades…

Perhaps in some situations it’s caused by cooks who put limited imagination into their veggie dishes.

I was talking with a co-worker recently, and he was telling me about a cruise he had just taken with his wife. Both of them are vegetarians, primarily for cultural and religious reasons. Anyway, the food they were offered on the cruise basically just amounted to roasted veggies and salads. Fine, but not for every meal. In his native country, India, the food is cooked with lots of spices, and more importantly, ghee or oils.

A lot of times, it seems like vegetarian food is prepared with the idea that it needs to be low fat. If a person’s experience is with this low or no fat vegetarian food, they may find it disappointing in the flavor department. The vegetarians and vegans that I know don’t go crazy with fat, but they go through olive oil at a pretty decent clip.

Pretty much the only reason I am afraid of vegetarian cooking is that I hate and detest and abhor and loathe eggplant and zucchini. I’m always afraid some veggie person will slip that into my food and I will discover this midswallow and make a gagging noise, which would insult my host.

I’m an omnivore who also likes vegetarian meals.

However, I almost never eat them out. Yes, I do fear :eek: prepared vegetarian meals.

But in my case, it’s for a rational reason.

I’m allergic to a lot of vegees - like tomatoes. And half the legume family. So many times the “salty hunk of meat” is the safer option for me.

The rest of 'em… no excuse!

I’m not vegetarian, but there are lots of veggie foods that I love. A lunch of hummous, pita and grilled veggies; pasta tossed with garlic, olive oil and broccoli; cheese and bean tacos; pizza with any number of delicious toppings…

No meat? fine, especially if a non-meat protein alternative is involved- eggs, cheese, beans, nuts- they’re all great. Have you ever pointed out that quiche is (eew!) vegetarian? Or cheese fondue with french bread? I don’t understand the fear of dishes that don’t contain meat. I cannot, however, imagine my life without eggs and dairy.

I am not scared of vegetarian food however as a meat eater I am scared of preparing food for serious vegetarians. I’m always worried that I will accidentally add something into the meal that they can’t eat – thus destroying what should have been an enjoyable meal.

This has become a serious problem since my best friend started dating a very hard core vegan (think that’s the right term), he wont even eat honey because it’s been taken from the bee’s. I love all the preparation and cooking that is involved in having a dinner party but I’m scared if I invite this guy over for a meal he wont want to eat anything. Next step is to see if he wants to help me prepare the meal so I can learn a bit more about his needs. It would be a bit of a shame if I can no longer have my friend over for dinner parties because of her partners eating habits.

Guybud5, yer OP makes me wonder, not because of some folk’s aversion to a veg MRE, but because I wonder about the keeping quality of meat in an MRE. I’m veg for ethical reasons, and not yammeringly adverse to others eating meat; to me that’s a personal choice. But meat in a pouch; I gotta wonder over it’s long term safety. Anyone know the susceptability of meat vs veg in degeneration in long term storage?

leechbabe, wow, you’re a pretty kind soul for even worrying about it. Just ask your friend or her hon for some good recipes. Or ask him to help you cook at the next get-together. Your kind of effort will be most welcome, I think.

Mostly, the main piece lacking in the mainstream American perception of a veg diet is an appreciation of beans, legumes, and whole grains. In my neck of the woods, Chapel Hill, NC, it’s pretty easy to get that info. It’s key in maintaining a healthy veg diet, and to my mind, a pretty healthy diet overall.

Who the hell else eats Quinoa here?

Actually, in contrast to the OP, i find that most of my non-vegetarian friends are perfectly happy eating an occasional vegetarian meal. When i have them over for dinner, they are always keen to see what recipe i have been experimenting with, and none of them have any problems catering to my needs when i eat at their places. I’m sure there are places where vegetarians are looked upon as weird, but such an attitude is pretty uncommon in the cities and towns that i’ve visited, both in the US and abroad.

I’ve haven’t eaten meat of any sort (including fish) for about ten years now, and i never feel the desire to go back. What surprised me the most, i think, was how well my mother adapted to my change in diet. Admittedly i was 23 when i switched and so had left home long before, but when i visit my parents my mum always makes sure there’s something for me to eat. Quite often when i visit them, i cook dinner, simply because i have a bunch of vege recipes in my head. Even my stepfather, who is quite a meat-and-two-veg man, doesn’t complain when i produce a vegetable curry or a lentil dish or a big stir-fry.

I find that the best time to be a vegetarian is on a plane, especially when the meal served on board is lunch. I always order the vegetarian meal when i book my flight, and i often get rather envious looks from other passengers when i am tucking into my sesame noodles or spiced lentils while they wrestle with slabs of processed ham and cheese on a bun.

I’m one of those who would be leery of a vegetarian meal. My concern is that the texture or the flavor (or both) would be objectionable.

Part of this is that I personally am not very adventurous when it comes to food. I’m a rather picky eater. While I will usually take a bite of something I’m not familiar with, I very seldom run across something new to me that I actually like. Some new items are tolerable, but I don’t see any point in eating something just tolerable when I could instead be eating something enjoyable. And more often than not, I find the new item distasteful.

Another part of it, one I suspect shared by even non-picky eaters, is a feeling that there’s a weirdness to vegetarian food. While grilled cheese or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches might qualify as vegetarian, it’s not what comes to mind at hearing the word. What does come to mind is tofu, strange grains, and disliked vegetables. In a “normal” meal, if you don’t like the vegetable (or the meat, for that matter) it’s not that big a deal because it’s only, say, a fourth of the selection. You can fill up on the stuff you like. In a vegetarian meal, the expectation is that all or most of it is going to be strange and unenjoyable.

I’ve never quite understood the horrors of vegetarian food, either. I used to be a flight attendant and when offering meal choices often I’d get only as far as “Would you like…” when people started yelling “MEAT!!! MEAT!!!”

It somehow scared me :slight_smile:

And yes, I know, most airline food tastes like crap anyway. Actually, all things considered, the best option is to pre-order a platter of raw vegetables because, honestly, what can you do to mess it up?

I’m not a vegetarian, but I prefer vegetarian lasagna to the meaty kind (since the meat often tends to be gristly and suspect), and eggplant parmegan to veal or chicken. Most of my favorite Indian dishes are veggie as well.

I suppose for me it’s a matter of texture, and not really trusting meat if I can’t see it. A piece of steak or chicken on a plate, where I can cut around any bone or gristle, is okay; meat mixed up with a lot of other stuff, or hidden under sauces or cheese provides too many opportunities for unexpectedly biting down onto something hard and painful, or gross and appetite-killing. I trust a vegetable much more in those situations.

I have no problem with meat-free food. I love vegetables etc.

What sickens my stomach is meat substitute food. Fake bacon rashers, fake mince, things made from dubiously processed nasty tofu and TVP stuff to look like meat.

Bleuurrghh. Either eat meat, or don’t, but don’t fake it.

I’ve been a vegetarian for longer than I care to remember, and my friends have always enjoyed coming for meals at my place because they’re guaranteed to get something different and interesting. My partner, bless 'im, is a dedicated carnivore who has a deep loathing of almost every vegetable on the planet. He’s far more of a nightmare to cater for than anyone else I know!

Having said that, we manage to get round the problem by having him cook for himself or for him to tell me which parts of whatever I’m cooking he might be interested in.

I also don’t much like meat substitute food, mainly because I think it’s a bit strange to give up a type of food and then immediately go looking for something to use as a replacement that either looks and/or tastes similar. I guess that’s down to personal preference and your own feelings about vegetarianism as a whole.

I don’t use them much, the only time I use meat substitutes is when I’m making chilli so that it ends up looking like chilli instead of spicy vegetabel stew!

I think most non-vegetarians get put off by the idea of a processed, manufactured replacement for meat. It doesn’t seem natural. As an omnivore with many vegetarian friends, I can tell the difference between real meat and veggie subsitutes but it isn’t that bad. The real meat just tastes, real, you know?

[funny anecode]
I spent one Thanksgiving with some vegetarian friends and they had a veggie turkey. Upon my first mouthful I exclaim “it tastes just like ham!” I received many strange looks for the rest of the evening.

I see your point, Frank #2 and I’m sure most of my non-veggie friends would be much happier to come and eat something they’ve never tried before rather than have me use meat-substitutes to re-create something that looks acceptable to them.

I did try out a couple of different brands of soya-mince type stuff but in the end I went back to using the old favourite lentils!

I think istara makes a great point. I would certainly be leery of trying something as a substitute rather than just enjoying something on its own merits. One of my closest veggie friends I have known since middle school is one of the best cooks I know, but even making a veggie burger she never tried to sell it as tasting like meat.

I think since she was raised veggie she had more practice than some of my other veggie friends. I find that her recipes don’t try to substitute or make up for a lack of meat, the food she prepares is just plain yummy without meat. The times I run into people pushing something as a substitute are friends who ate meat at one time. Nothing wrong with not being raised vegetarian, and I’m sure there are others who could rival her cooking skills, but I do think she might have had an advantage by not needing to find substitutes with her cooking approach. At any rate, I think if dog crap was on the menu she’d make it taste good.:stuck_out_tongue: This from the kid that didn’t like to eat her vegetables.

I think it’s also the fact that creating the meat substitute reminds you what meat actually is - dead animal carcass.

Now as meat by itself, it’s just a nice piece of fresh meat. But with a substitute, you start thinking about the whole creation and imitation process, and how this vegetoid substance is actually being set up as “dead flesh”.