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Statistics I have read show that there may be as many vegan men as there are women. Yet, I often get e-mails and messages from women asking for help in getting their guys to eat vegan food. Many of these women write that their boyfriends, husbands, and sons won’t even try the plant-based dishes they make. They are often distraught that their men are bringing animal-based foods into the house or worse, want the women to cook it for them.
It’s wonderful when couples and families make the vegan journey together, but often, one person learns about veganism first and then wants to share it with his or her loved ones. When the people closest to you are not as enthusiastic about living a plant-based life as you are, it can be downright frustrating. However, my readers also often write and tell me that my recipes help get their guys on the vegan bandwagon. Whether you’re trying to introduce plant-based eating to your boyfriend, husband, son, or even a male friend or co-worker, here are my tips on how to get your guy to love vegan food.
Whenever I want to show someone how amazing vegan food is, I ask them what their favorite dish is. Then I make them a vegan version of it. It never fails. Not only are they surprised by how good the food tastes, but they often say it’s just as good, if not better, than the original version. A guy might show reluctance towards the topic of veganism because he thinks he will have to give up all his favorites.
How will he live without giant burgers, pizza with all the toppings, mozzarella sticks, or Buffalo wings? Is he going to have to get by on salads and tofu? The happy news is that he doesn’t have to give up his favorite foods at all; he can have them but in a healthier and more compassionate way. Last fall, I asked a male friend of mine what his favorite foods were. He said, “Spaghetti with meatballs and steak with potatoes.” Whew! And I thought it might have been a challenge. That night, I made him Spaghetti with Tempeh Meatballs. The next night, I made him a Seitan Steak in Beurre Blanc Sauce with a side of potatoes. He was blown away! His actual words were, “This is so delicious. If I could always eat like this, I’d never have to eat meat again.” He has been vegan for over 6 months now. Make a list of your guy’s favorite foods and then get to work on making vegan versions of them. Show him that being veg does not mean sacrificing anything but the cruelty.
When I offer someone a plate of whatever I’ve cooked, I usually don’t announce that it’s vegan. It isn’t that I don’t want to talk about veganism because I do. I always do, but I don’t want the person to have any preconceptions in his mind before he tastes the actual food. Rather than have him despair over how his burger has no meat and think, “Great, now I have to eat this nuts and seeds patty with sprouts” and hesitate to lift the fork to his mouth, I want him to see a big plate of amazing looking food and dig in. I’ve had guys eat my General Tso’s Tofu, Balsamic BBQ Seitan Ribs, and sandwiches made with my Gluten-Free Vegan Meat and they couldn’t even tell they were meat-free. After I accept the compliments for my food, then I explain the ingredients. That usually leads to a great conversation about plant-based foods they didn’t even know existed and the reasons why I don’t eat animals. Sometimes, the best way to open someone’s mind is to open their mouths first.
How many times have you heard people say that vegans are skinny, anemic, and starving because all they eat is lettuce? Of course, we know that isn’t true. We have tons of delicious foods to eat and it isn’t all low-calorie health food that leaves us starving. But if your guy loves to eat big, hearty meals, he might worry that a plant-based diet won’t give him enough to eat. Show him just how filling and satisfying vegan food can be. Present him with a huge Jackfruit Philly Cheesesteak with a side of Chickpea Fries. Bring a big casserole dish of Ooey-Gooey Baked Zit to the table and set it next to a pile of Mozzarella-Stuffed Eggplant Meatballs. Indulge a “meat and potatoes” guy with a Shepherd’s Pot Pie with Tofu or a steaming bowl of Seitan Pot Roast. After any of these meals, your guy will definitely be full and satisfied though he will be left wanting more…more vegan meals, that is.
Another misconception about vegan food is that it’s bland and flavorless. Show your guy how incredibly bold and flavorful vegan can be. If he likes spicy food, try making him some Buffalo Meatballs, Spicy Vegan Nachos or Spicy Italian Sausages. Go international and enjoy Tandoori Tofu, a Mexican-Spiced Tofu Scramble, Cold Noodles in a Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce or Braised Seitan Short Ribs in a Spicy Chile Sauce. On the side, serve him a Spicy Asian Cucumber Avocado Onion Salad to make the point that even salads can be exciting.
End the meal on a bang with an indulgent dessert that will appeal to your guy’s sweet tooth. Serve some Spicy Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles or Perfect Vegan “Tollhouse” Cookies with his coffee. Give him a slice of a Special Dark Chocolate Cake or an Orange Chocolate Cheesecake. On his birthday, knock his socks off with a Mindblowing Banana Chocolate Caramel Vegan Ice Cream Cake. Bring back his childhood memories with a Raw Banana Ice Cream Sundae topped with vegan Whipped Cream. Not only will the last taste in his mouth be vegan, it will be unforgettable.
Maybe you’re vegan for the animals or perhaps your biggest concern is saving the planet. That’s great, but what most concerns the guy you are trying to educate? Whatever his interests are, that’s where you should primarily focus. Is he into bodybuilding? Show him how plant-based foods are perfect for building muscles or which kinds of snacks are perfect for athletes. If your guy is worried about his carbon footprint, talk to him about how factory farming hurts the environment. If he’s an animal lover, clue him into the horrors that farm animals go through and show him heartwarming photos that prove farm animals love us. If you target the areas that most interest and concern him, your guy will be more likely to pay attention to what you’re saying.
Going vegan is a big life change so you really need to consider the issues that are important to each particular person. Men and women may share the virtues of an open mind and a compassionate heart, but their individual concerns should also be appreciated and respected. Focusing on what is important to your guy while feeding him delicious, hearty, cruelty-free versions of all his favorite foods is a sure way to get him joining you at your vegan table.
Image source: Pineapple Jack BBQ Sandwiches and a Beer
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