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Your problems solved by The Midults

- Annabel Rivkin and Emilie Mcmeekan Do you have a dilemma that you’re grappling with? Email Annabel and Emilie on All questions are kept anonymous. They are unable to reply to emails personally

Q:Dear A&E, my youngest daughter went vegan last year. Then she and my husband watched a series of documentar­ies and he decided to go vegan, too. I’m finding it tricky to cook different meals each night to keep everyone happy. But also, a lot of the pleasure in our lives has gone: we used to love eating out, but now dinner at a lovely restaurant leads to a debate with my husband about the unsustaina­bility of animal agricultur­e. Help! — Stressed-out Carnivore

Dear Stressed-out Carnivore, every now and then a problem lands on our plate and we think, ‘Oh, this is a reflection of our lives.’ Actually, scrap that, this isn’t Annabel’s life. No: this is Emilie’s problem. Emilie the perennial people-pleaser, who at one point this year had a family member who would only eat meat, one vegetarian who doesn’t like vegetables and another who had given up gluten, sugar, meat and dairy in order to starve a fungus in their stomachs. There was nothing that everyone would eat. At the moment M&S halloumi burgers are the only unifiers.

Emilie has thrown (metaphoric­ally, sadly, not literally) all of the Linda Mccartney range at her lot and tested every veggie brand in town (Richmond meat-free sausages are surprising­ly good, as is Quorn frozen mince). She has tracked down cakes with absolutely nothing in them whatsoever (we give you the vegan chocolate ice-cream cake), so, in short, she weepingly relates.

Here’s what we think: this is exasincred­ibly perating and it doesn’t make you a bad person when everyone goes worthy and you feel wonky. Well done them for working to save the planet, to support sustainabl­e fishing and live longer, healthier lives. We should all be eating less meat and being more conscious in every area, so... hats off. Having said that, the zeal of the newly converted is revolting and you are perfectly entitled to call a moratorium on the subject of animal husbandry or agricultur­al practices in the Middle Ages. You could tell everyone to cater for themselves and eat by themselves, but that steals precious family time. So, if you want to stop running yourself ragged, this is what we suggest.

Sit them down and tell them what you will do, what you feel you can and can’t do. Basically, ‘I respect your decision, you need to respect mine.’ When you all go to a restaurant, they can fill their boots with nettle pasta and you can have a steak. There is something to be said for walking the walk, not talking the talk. No one likes to be lectured. It’s

No one likes to be lectured about saving the planet or living more healthily.

It’s incredibly unsexy – remind your husband of this

unsexy – remind your husband of this.

In the kitchen, go for the principle that their main course can be your side dish – you are an adult woman and if you want a chicken breast, you must have a chicken breast. Tell them they can take what they like and leave the rest. You do not have to become a meat martyr. Having said that, Emilie finds that being more plant-based has made her feel better, which is a perk of the situation. (Obviously she reserves the right to deny she ever said this out loud…)

So, acknowledg­e your power and think about letting someone else do the thinking for you: recipe boxes. You can order a mix of vegetarian, vegan and meat ones to keep the hordes silent and you’ll all learn new and exciting recipes to try together.

Environmen­tally-minded brands can offer a better alternativ­e when it comes to both packaging and ingredient sourcing, as well as a reduction of food waste – so put that on their plate and smoke it (over a responsibl­y fuelled flame).

Suggest every person in your household cooks at least one of the recipes a week. Turn this eco drive into a family project that’s about sharing, balance, community and all the other buzzwords that will ignite their zeal, but not make you want to burn the house down. Of course, you can’t stand the heat in your kitchen right now, Stressed-out Carnivore. But, with some thought and gentle action, it should simmer down and sort itself out.

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