I am vegan, and my girlfriend is not. We are looking to move in together, and I had always had this (now unrealistic) idea that my home would be a vegan one.
How have other veggies and meat-eaters gotten along, and what are some tips for making everyone happy food-wise?
Great question! For the first 12 years of our relationship, my partner was vegan and I was not. Our wedding cake was actually TWO cakes (one vegan, one not) woven together.
Honestly, the vegan/non-vegan cohabitation thing was pretty easy for us, primarily because my vegan partner was the one who liked to cook, so when we were home, I ate vegan. We did have two different cartons of milk, and I had my stash of cheese — neither of which bothered Andreas. (Well, ok: it sorta bothered him when I would grate cheese on top of my serving of vegan food.)
For the most part, however, the dynamic worked for us because the vegan (Andreas) was also the one who liked cooking, and the non-vegan (me!) was happy to eat whatever food he put in front of me. As I see it, the non-cook/omnivore doesn’t get to be demanding. I can eat anything, including delicious vegan food!
I’d be curious to hear from Homies who’ve been in this situation, though — what about when the primary cook is the omnivore? What about when it’s not just a stash of cheese, but a stash of bacon? How can the vegan and the omnivore peacefully share both a kitchen and a meal?
Comments on Can’t we all just get along: how vegans and omnivores can live together
My friends Robin (vegetarian) and Pete (omnivore) co-habitat, its seems to have worked out similarly to Ariel’s situation. Robin likes to cook and grocery shop far more then Pete. She cooks vegetarian meals and he happily eats whatever is in front of him.
I think he continues to eat McBurgers when he is out (he used to live on them). When they grill outside he cooks meat, and a veggie patty/mushroom alongside for her.
With Chris (omnivore) and I (wheat/dairy allergies), we stay mostly wheat-free dairy-free with some exceptions. We both eat brown-rice-pasta, wheat free bread, Toffuti-cream-cheese, soy-ice-cream but Chris uses cow milk and I use soy-milk.
Totally off-topic. I’m gluten/dairy free too. If you haven’t yet, there’s a coconut milk ice cream called So Good–it tastes more like ice cream, which my partner enjoys more than soy ice cream(since, regardless of what I make, he must have his dairy).
YES! I was so happy when I found that at the grocery store!
I have a dairy allergy too and I buy Amy’s Cheese-less pizza, I love it (I put extra sauce it). Before my fiance and I moved in together, I used to cook the pizza for both of us. It wasn’t until we moved in together that he told me that he hated it, that he was choking it down. I couldn’t believe that he was eating it for over a year and hated it! But mostly I couldn’t believe that I was sharing my pizza with him when I DIDN’T HAVE TO! So now he has his meat lovers, double cheese pizza, and I have my cheese-less!
I grew up eating a huge slab of red meat almost every night, but ended up moving into a house with a vegan in college. We would rotate who cooked every night, and we always cooked vegan, but with things like cheese available on the side. (like Ariel)
For me, it’s a respect thing for the vegan’s decision, and I actually don’t like eating meat too much anyway. It’s a small step from vegetarian to vegan.
I think the trick is not to try to create omnivore/ vegetarian dishes in a vegan way- vegan mac n’ cheese is…. erm…. nothing like cheddar. Stop trying to think: “oh this is my favorite dish, how can I substitute out the animal products?” but rather: “mmmm veggies in a yummy curry sauce! (that happens to be vegan)”
Another trick is to find ways to make vegan things taste “richer.” You can food process cashews & water and add the cashew cream to blended soups for a creamy/ fatty taste. There are tons of other ways to bring the flavors that omnivores love to vegan meals. Check out vegan cooking blogs (I like everyonelikessandwiches.com) or look for cookbooks at the library. I’m obsessed with Mollie Katzen- many of her recipes are vegan, not just vegetarian.
I love the cashew idea, never would have thought of that! Also you need to try the vegan mac’n’cheese at our local sustainable eatery – I love it even as an omnivore. 🙂
This! I am an omnivore, though I have been reducing my meat consumption by making a lot more veg* entrees. However, I hate vegan food that pretends to be “just like” the meat version. It is nothing close! Once I made a sandwich that was supposed to replace tuna salad, I think it was mashed chickpeas w/ kelp flakes or something like that. IT WAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING LIKE TUNA. Veggies burgers are nothing like burgers. And vegan “cheese” is blasphemy. But there are totally a lot of veg* dishes I love that aren’t pretending to be like meat – in particular stir fries and curries.
I think people with very different diets can live together no problem as long as they are both respectful of one another. In that situation I’d happy eat vegan when we were sharing dinner, but I’d probably have eggs, bacon, tuna, cheese and so forth in the house for when I wanted a sandwich or would be cooking for myself.
I totally agree! My husband is a chef and used to work at a vegan and gluten-free restaurant. They had a “cheese pizza” that was flatbread with creamy cashew spread and raw kale… That is not a cheese pizza! And all their dishes were like that, with arbitrary names that had nothing to do with what the dish actually was.
It was funny, though, because I actually really -liked- most of the dishes… if they’d just put “flatbread with cashew spread and kale” on the menu I probably would have ordered it and been happy as a clam. But I hated that they felt like they had to pretend it was somehow a pizza!
As to what the original post was asking: I think that vegan and omnivores can definitely make it work. I would be really clear about what your expectations are though – especially if you’ve always expected to have a vegan home. What are her “must-have” non-vegan foods? Can you deal with them being in the home?
I would also set aside time each week to plan menus, just so everybody’s on the same page. Think about who is going to be home on what nights, who is going to have time to cook, and what you are planning to eat when. That way you’re not just haphazardly going grocery shopping, and you know you’ll definitely have food that fits both your eating styles.
YES! My husband and I are both vegan so we don’t have an issue at home, but as far as not trying to replace traditional omni dishes with vegan substitutes, this is key! Whenever we go to his parents’ for dinner, they always make two separate meals–one omni-style and one with vegan substitutions. Which is fine, but it just seems like so much more work for them! When we go to my parents’, my mom usually just makes a big bowl of pasta with roasted veggies, or beans and rice, or veggie chili or something that everyone will eat and not miss the meat!
Hmm. Interesting. I’ve been vegan about a year and a half and hadn’t thought about this. I live alone so it’s a no brainer that my house is vegan.
My boyfriend is an omnivore but like Ariel he loves to eat the vegan food I cook and like Andreas I love to cook! My man is at my house often and always eats vegan there and doesn’t keep any non-vegan food around. He once had eggs for some reason that he stashed in my fridge for a day but I asked him not to cook them at my place and he didn’t.
My dad (omnivore) is married to a vegetarian and he’s not fussed about it. He just orders a burger when he goes out. My mom (vegan) is married to an omnivore…I think they just each fix their own food. She’s not bothered by nonvegan food being cooked in the house so pretty much a nonissue there too.
I think this probably depends on how staunchly “for” eating meat the omnivore is. If she’s moving in with a vegan I would think/hope that she wouldn’t be a chest-thumping must-have-meat-at-every-meal, give-me-bacon-all-the-time type. So it may not even be a major issue, especially if the vegan likes to cook.
I’m thinking now about what I’d do if my boyfriend was moving in. I think we’d have to have a talk about food expectations beforehand for sure. And we’d each have to lay out our dealbreakers and what we could compromise on. For myself, I could handle milk or cheese in the fridge probably….but I couldn’t handle cooking meat or eggs in the house.
As far as specific tips beyond talking at out? I dont know.
well hello! ive been vegan a while. on and off we shall say, since i was 14. solidly for a long time though. i have dated exactly ONE vegan. the rest, even cohabitants, were all omnivorous. it is quite easy to do, if you can get past the initial woes. i personally have not dated anyone since the vegan. and knowing the joys of having a completely cruelty free household.. i will never go back. however, for those of you who can.. its quite easy.
rules?- we haz em.
-establish if the products containing animal ingredients can be brought in the home at all, or if they must be consumed off site.
– if non vegan products are allowed, where they will be stored, who will prepare them, seperate cookware and cutting boards, etc. not everyone needs those limitations, i just found it easier.
-if you are the vegan, get your oven mitts on, and that fancy cookware out! cook awesome omnivore friendly things, and do it often. do not bitchslap your partner with too much tofu right off the bat. that is the biggest johnny raincloud for any omnivore to hear. become friends with chili, sloppy joes (both made with tvp), how to bake a seitan loaf you can cut into lunch meatz, and daiya mac n cheese. make the living situation easy.
-dont be a condescending dick or militant about your lifestyle. if you cant accept them for their lifestyle choice, you should have held out for a vegan. if you are living with them, chances are it wont kill you.
-if your partner is interested in making the change, present them the facts that are POSITIVE.
i repeat… POSITIVE.
let them know they are saving families, doing the enviroment, themselves, and world hunger a favor. anything you can think of to shed a positive light. they know they are eating a dead animal. it didnt stop them.
good luck babies, and may your household be a peaceful one 🙂
As a pretty staunch meat-eater (I actually love a lot of vegan and vegetarian dishes, but a couple days of that and I NEED my red meat/bacon/etc), this is exactly how I would like to be treated in this situation. I think I would be a LOT more inclined to understand vegan eating, to try new meals, etc, if you follow these hints. Otherwise, I might feel that we’re going to have a battle every time I crave a steak, and it might start to wear on both of us. I really like the idea, if you’re the no-meat-in-the-house type person, to give them some days where you eat out and they can order meat/non-vegan food, or maybe let them pick up a burger on their way home from work, and you just eat by yourself that night. Things like that. 🙂
I agree so much. I’m the omnivore and he has been vegan for one month. I’ve tried the vegan dishes so far and I can’t say as I care for most but it is still early. Respect, BOTH ways, goes along way.
I became a vegetarian after my husband and I married. He was fine with it and I didn’t push him to change. I did the cooking and he pretty much ate what I made. It wasn’t a big deal. I did most of the shopping and the fridge was mostly vegetarian friendly. I have no cravings for meat, so seeing it sit in the fridge occasionally not some painful experience for me. He did have a tendency to eat a lot of meat when I was out of town.
In the six years since, my husband has given up all meat but fish. He’s had no problem raising our son vegetarian either. I suppose we’ll see what happens when two year old is ready to decide for himself what he eats.
I’ve been a vegetarian for 4 years now and my husband is a devoted omnivore. It can be a bit of a bummer that we can’t share as many food dishes together, or enjoy all of the same restaurants, but we generally make it work. Here are some things that help us:
Have a collection of recipes that are easy to adapt by cooking the meat separately and tossing it in at the end for one partner. For instance, if I make pasta, I’ll steam some shrimp and add it just to my partner’s serving. Grilling is also an easy way to prepare an individual meal of meat or non-meat for each person without much extra work.
Speaking of, it’s helpful if you can be a little relaxed about meat/animal products in the house. I know not everyone’s worldview (or health) allows this, but it makes life easier here. I am laid-back about sharing the grill/fridge space/dishes etc. with meat products even though I choose not to eat them. My husband will usually handle any meat cooking (some of it kind of grosses me out), but once in a while I’ll cook meat for him. It helps him feel cared for and valued even when our choices are different.
There are also some pretty decent meat substitutes out there that my partner actually enjoys. They’re not cheap, but it’s a good middle road sometimes.
Also, embrace leftovers. I enjoy cooking more than he does. Whatever either of us cooks, we usually make enough for leftovers. That makes it more justifiable to cook an entirely separate dish for one person, and makes it easier for us to eat what we like even when the other person is doing the cooking that night. We probably eat fewer “matching” meals than many couples, but I’ve accepted that.
Not eating meat (and being generally picky) sometimes limits my restaurant options. We have plenty of places to visit together, but I also recognize that sometimes my husband wants to go to a meat-heavy place that I just wouldn’t enjoy… so I’m 100% okay when he goes out to eat with another friend.
The best thing you can each do is keep an open mind. Try new vegan/vegetarian recipes together that you might both enjoy, give yourselves permission to not share every meal, and make the best of it.
Also, no judging the other person’s choices. I think it would be better for his body and the planet if my partner ate less red meat… but that’s his decision, not mine. He thinks life would be easier if I just ate meat once in a while. Nagging just turns mealtime into a battle. It’s not worth it to either of us. My relationship is more important to me than my principles about eating animals.
Lately we’ve talked about taking some cooking classes (via community education) together. I’m really looking forward to it–it might give us a larger set of meals that we both like to cook and eat.
Big up Grouch! Just want to say I love the new Z&G album. I’ve been lookin foarwd to it for quite some time. It’s funny how you are on the healthy diet tip cuz I just recently decided to change my eating habits as well. That song definately made me think about my diet foreal. That’s why Im stoked ya are postin these recipes. Anyways, thanks for the recipe and all the good advice throughout the years. oh n ya know what’s on my wish list Z&G&E! See ya soon. One love
Totally agree with the tip about adding meat in at the end. It also works the other way around–I hate meat substitutes and would rather just eat veggies, so we add them in at the end for my partner, who loves that kind of thing.
+1 to everyone’ suggestions about rules and a discussion of expectations. When I moved in with my now-husband, I was vegan and he was not. He’s since gone vegetarian and then vegan, but when he was omni, we basically agreed to respect each other’s choices. I did most of the cooking, so he ate vegan at home. I didn’t mind his cheese in the fridge, but he knew I wouldn’t cook animal products for him. If he wanted to eat meat, he cooked it himself and washed the dishes so I didn’t have to deal with it. When we went out to eat, we each ordered whatever we wanted. Eventually he went vegetarian and then vegan so it’s a non-issue now, but while he was omni, that’s what worked for us.
Also: Cook together! He is the best cooking buddy I could ask for. Even when he was omni, he was great about helping me choose recipes so we’d both be eating something we liked. It’s hard to snark at someone about dietary choices when he or she has just helped you prepare a meal that you chose together.
I love this post! My hubby and I eat mostly vegetarian/ dairy-free. He used to live on processed junk and fast-food and when I started cooking vegetables and whole grains for him his body rebelled! We have found that the Ariel method works for us. I cook and if he wants meat, he cooks it and adds it later (while I try not to be offended that he added ground beef to my delicious veggie dish). Mostly, though, he doesn’t bother! Good luck!
PS- Just don’t be this person: http://www.passiveaggressivenotes.com/2011/07/06/self-righteous-vegan/
wooooow, worst roomie ever!
I agree, that person is awful; however, for every preachy vegan, I see at least one of the obnoxiously in your face meat eater who giggles and says things like “You sure you don’t want some bacon?” “Mmmm… look at this delicious dead animal.” “So are you sad you used to eat meat? What was your favorite meat when you ate meat?”
Don’t be that person either.
Yes! Thank you Elizabeth! My FIL got me a “present” the week after our wedding. It was a sign that said “Vegetarian: An ancient word for bad hunter” *headdesk*
Yes! People do the same thing when you tell them that you don’t drink alcohol. “Are you suuuure?”, “Just try a little bit, it won’t hurt you”. I believe in everyone’s freedom to make their own choices, but don’t try to make someone change their core beliefs just because you have a different view.
I wonder how that particular situation panned out? If I had gotten a note like that, there would have been such a fight…
I’m a vegetarian and my husband is an omni. We’ve lived together since 2007, and this very rarely ever causes problems. Basically my initial (and current) position was that I’ll never buy or cook meat, but if wants to he’s more than welcome. If he wants me to cook dinner then he’ll just have to deal with everything being vegetarian. We both enjoy cooking, and pretty evenly split up dinner duties. Luckily he is totally fine eating all my “weird” veggie food, like tofu, tempeh, etc. In fact, he’s better at cooking up tofu than I am! I think he was pleasantly surprised how tasty my vegetarian cooking was, after being used to a Midwest meat ‘n taters lifestyle. I still distinctly remember a moment a month or so after we started dating, after basically constantly being together for weeks. He said “holy shit, I haven’t eaten meat in four days! I need to hit Taco Bell!” If you don’t make a big deal about it, I think many people don’t realize how recognizable and tasty most vegetarian food really is. It’s more the stigma of it being “hippie” or whatever that makes it undesirable to many.
Basically we always have veggie dinners, and he is welcome to supplement his with meat if desired. Sometimes I do need to give him direction on vegetarian entrees, because it’s harder for him to come up with things to cook that don’t have a central meat protein. Now that we’re busy professionals, we do rely on some pre-packaged veggie “meats” and Trader Joe’s frozen meals and sides more than I’d care to admit, but that’s life. The only meat usually in our house is lunchmeat for his sandwiches during the week and maybe some frozen bacon/sausage for him to cook up on the weekend. He’ll almost always order a burger or something similar at restaurants, but I honestly think he’s happier making those type of things “treats” instead of always having them around the house.
I have a few rules to prevent meat gross-out: 1) he has to do any meaty dishes, like pans, cutting boards, etc. 2) I won’t kiss him within an hour of him eating meat, unless he brushes his teeth first. Neurotic, but the idea of meat breath seriously grosses me out!
I try to think of eating choices as something really similar to religion, in that it’s none of my business what others do. That has served me well in the 10+ years I’ve been vegetarian and works in my own home!
My vegetarian husband asks me to brush my teeth post-meat, pre-kissing too. However, I won’t kiss him right after he eats his morning yogurt. So it all evens out in the end. Compromise, we can haz it. 🙂
This is totally tangential, but I won’t let my husband kiss me after he eats chex mix. It is one of his favorite snack foods, but I can’t stand the flavor or the smell. It’s my one, hard rule. So not wanting to kiss someone after they’ve eaten something you find gross seems perfectly reasonable to me.
I won’t kiss my Viking after he drinks Scotch. But he likes the really, really…uh…strong Scotches. I got used to the coffee and the beer, but I cannot deal with the smell/taste of his Scotch.
I won’t kiss my husband if he’s been eating cool ranch doritos. Hell, I don’t let him eat them in the car or within 5 feet of me. Grossest smell ever.
The tooth-brushing thing doesn’t sound neurotic to me at all.
I’m an omnivore, and there are still times when I won’t cook certain types of very standard meats, like hamburger, at home because the smell repels me. I’d probably be even more sensitive if I didn’t like the taste some of the time.
Oh, I could write a whole post about this – still might. I am a vegetarian and my husband is not only an omnivore, he is a hardcore “I only like beef, chicken, potatoes, and bread” omnivore. He is NOT ok with just eating whatever I cook. There are like, two vegetables that he will eat, and he won’t eat any beans or other vegetarian protein, and he is not ok with protein substitutes. However, I am still the one doing the cooking so I have to find ways around it. I think for us what really makes it work is that I am ok with cooking meat for him. He doesn’t even know how to cook, so it’s good that I’ll cook it for him because he would starve if i didn’t. I usually cook things that can have meat thrown in at the end (like spaghetti) or big meals where he eats a few of the things and I eat a few (example: if I cook chicken, potatoes, and peas, he eats chicken and peas while I eat potatoes and peas.) Sometimes we eat similar things but mine is a protein substitute (hambugers/veggie burgers and hot dogs/veggie dogs.) He has also learned that while I will cook meat, I also try to make healthier choices for us as a family – so he is getting used to eating beef maybe twice a week instead of once a day, and we have meals that we both like that are vegetarian (grilled cheese, etc.) My biggest advice is just that you HAVE to be ok with animal products in your house. As someone said above – you chose to be with this person, so you have to accept this part of them.
My household is the same way. I am a veg (no dairy but will eat some eggs) and my husband is a beef, chicken, potatoes, carrots omnivore (and cheese, lots of cheese).
We created some rules so we can both be happy.
1. since he LOVES meat and can’t cook i agreed to cook meat. But if I had to cook it then the meat has to come from a local small farm or co-op.
2. we cook whole meals. So we do a large main vegetarian dish and meat is always a side dish.
3. He agrees to try everything. he doesn’t have to like it or even finish a plate but he has to try it. Which has led to him loving tofu stir fry, edamame, soy milk and bison.
4.we both agree to never complain about what the other person is eating even if we find it “super gross.”
I don’t think you HAVE to be ok with animal products in your house. It depends on what kind of omnivore you have on your hands. And what your relationship is like.
I personally could not live with meat in the fridge and I’d need anybody living with me to be ok with that. Some people would say they must have meat in the fridge and would need anyone living with them to be ok with it. Me and that person are probably not going to cohabitate unless one of us can change our position.
that is fine if having meat in the house is a dealbreaker for you as you date people, but if you were to be with an omnivore, just as you want them to respect your life choices, you need to respect theirs as well. its a two way street, and a no-meat-in-the-house rule is very much a double standard, skewed in the vegans favor, if you ask me.
I’m surprised I haven’t seen this iteration – I’m pesce/vegetarian and my husband is an omnivore. He likes to cook, and I do not. What this means is sometimes bacon shows up in the broccoli, and I bitch and don’t eat it, which makes him sad. It’s hard to find a middle ground. I did make him very happy when I found out that his wing sauce is so amazing that I had to eat…chicken wings. It’s a weird blip in my behavior, but I still have to finish with some Chick’un Wings at the end. I eat fish, otherwise, so I guess it’s not a huge stretch to find chicken ok sometimes? Seriously, this situation is hard, and we eat out a lot to make it easier on both of us.
My friend and her boyfriend are like this…she’s the veggie, but he’s the cook. He cooks veggie most of the time, or he adds his meat in at the end. However, she is a veggie for moral reasons, so she has started to eat meat that was ethically raised…”happy” meat, we call it. So far she has eaten Thanksgiving turkey (after her mom special-ordered a free-range grass-fed turkey from a local farm) and has eaten “happy” bacon and “happy” ground beef. There are some veggies who are opposed to eating meat at all, and those who would if they could be assured that the animal in question had the best life possible before being turned in to meat. So if you are that kind of veggie, you could look into local sources of “happy” meat. Yeah, it’s pricey, but if your already not eating it that often you may be able to squeeze it in to the food budget, making both of you happy!
My aunt is vegetarian, but when she feels compelled to offer meat options for events she hosts, she buys kosher. She figures that buying some kind of humane/responsible meat is a good compromise.
My husband & I are both omnivores but I will only eat ‘happy meat’ (we also use this phrase in our house, along with ‘Dodo-Friendly’). I am lucky in that I have access to wild venison so we often have that. We also live in a rural area with a good market where we can get local free-range meat & sustainably caught fish. If we go out for a meal & the menu doesn’t have something Dodo-Friendly on it, I’ll eat the veggie option.
Hubby does not care where his food comes from. However, he loves venison & respects that I won’t eat some meat. We agreed when we moved in together that if I am home, there is to be nothing factory farmed or intensively reared in the house. But when I’m away, hubby can eat what he likes as long as it’s gone by the time I get back. So he can have his favourite chicken wing bucket or whatever & it’s also a bit of a treat for him as he doesn’t get to have it often.
It does cost us a little more in food budget but this is manageable, mostly because we are lucky to have the resources we do. I think if I lived in an area where good meat was more expensive, I would end up eating veggie meals more often. I think different eating habits can work as long as each party respects the other & sets some ground rules from the start.
I’ve been vegan for 5 years and my fiance is an omnivore. It works because he respects keeping a vegetarian kitchen and I don’t say anything about the fact that I know he eats all kinds of things I find terrifying when he’s out with his friends or family. The only time it’s ever really an issue is when we’re out together and he wants to eat meat (fish I can handle, but anything else really grosses me out). It’s kind of awkward, but we deal with it. Do I wish he would have a sudden change of heart? Of course! But I also make a point to never ever push the subject. No one wants to come to being lectured about food.
I’m an omnivore, and my husband is a vegetarian. We split cooking duties fairly evenly, and I have to admit that this was a big concern of mine when we first moved in together because most of my recipe repertoire was built on the meat + starch + veggie standard. It doesn’t bother him when I cook and eat meat, but I’m usually not willing to make two separate meals, and cross-contamination is a big concern since it can make him really sick. To further complicate matters, I’m soy-sensitive. Our solution was to cook vegetarian dishes at home, and if it called for tofu or meat, they would be cooked separately and added during plating. We make lots of stir fries, curries, and pasta or rice + mixed veggies dishes. I also make soups, lasagnas, and casseroles. Usually he won’t cook meat for me, but he sometimes makes exceptions for special occasions or when he’s feeling guilty for something.
We also follow some of the other strategies mentioned. I sometimes have meat dates with friends, and the one night a week when my husband works late, I often cook meat (and then wash the meat dishes). He sometimes goes on lunch dates with friends to the vegetarian restaurant that I’m not crazy about. We have soy milk and regular milk in the fridge.
The key for us was focusing on flavors that we both enjoyed (cheese! broccoli! basil!) and then building out from there.
My husband and I are both omnivores, but we actually eating a surprising amount of vegan and vegeterian dishes. We’ve had to cut back on our meat intake becuase of our budget but it hasn’t been so hard. I think the words vegan and vegeterian can scare an omnivore but when you get down to it there’s tons of non-meat/animal dishes that omnivores enjoy. I mean omnivores eat anything, so maybe compromise and let him supplement a vegan dish with non-vegan items.
My husband loves his meat and I’m vegetarian. By default he is basically a vegetarian because it’s easier to cook one meal instead of two. When he is feeling particularly meat consuming we have a bag of frozen chicken breasts in the freezer that he’ll toss into whatever it is that we are eating.
I don’t usually handle his meat but I will put together a rub for his steak or mixture for his burgers but he’ll have to actually do the handling of the meat. I grew up in a meat and potatoes family and learned how to cook meat well so I want to share that with my husband even if it isn’t something I consume. Having a grill in our back yard has been amazing for him to fix his meat separate from the rest of the dinner and allow us to have the whole meal completed in time.
My husband is an omnivore and the household cook. While I’m a pretty flexible eater I stopped eating pork a long time ago. I think the most important thing here is respect. He respects the reasons I don’t eat pork and knows how important it is to me. Food choices are often founded on basic values, so understanding and respecting those choices is key to finding a compromise that everyone is comfortable with.
Because my husband respects my reasons and eating is a really social activity for us, he cooks meals that work for both of us. I have no problem with him cooking pork for himself, but I won’t cook it and he wouldn’t ask. He also has some omnivore food buddies so if he really wants some pork ribs or spicy garlic pork he calls them. That way I don’t have to sit through it complaining that there’s nothing I want to eat and he still gets to enjoy with others who appreciate it.
My sister WAS vegan for quite a while, and her boyfriend, who she lived with was an omni. My sister also grew up in a family of omnis, so she understood the omni mentality.
I think the key thing is to be understanding, and she understanding of you. You need to understand that she may not totally be into veganism, and she needs to understand that you aren’t going to join the meat train anytime soon.
How my sister and her boyfriend worked it was like this:
Cook a veggie/vegan meal initially. Does the omni want meat/cheese/whatever with that? Then they may cook/add that separately after the dish has been prepared.
My sister knew she couldn’t force her boyfriend into being vegan, and she wasn’t going to because that’s just cruel. And he knew to keep his meaty-ness to himself. And it worked splendidly while she was vegan.
My roommates are both more-or-less vegetarians. I’m an omnivore trying to eat less meat. Things work out well for us. I keep my meaty things separate and when I cook it I promptly clean it up.
These are probably good rules for living with roommates generally, though. 🙂
I’m a vegetarian (was vegan up until pregnancy, then heartburn necessitated going back to dairy). My husband is a devoted omnivore.
Honestly? I think it depends on the couple. I’ve known vegans who so strenously object to meat that no relationship with an omni will work, because they won’t allow it in the home. What I’d suggest is start by assessing your reasons for being vegan – health? ethics? If ethics, how strong are they? Could you live in a home with meat? Are there particular products you find especially objectionable? For example, my husband knows that foie gras, lamb, rabbit and other foods just are not okay with me, full stop (if he wants to eat them, out of respect to me, he does so outside the home). In compromise, I’ll accept beef and chicken (his religion does not allow pork, so it’s a moot point).
A big thing for me has been trying to explore vegetarian/vegan foods together? We made it easier by me promising to explore Middle Eastern food (my husband is Arab) with him. Falafel is vegan and awesome! Does your girlfriend come from a background with ethnic food traditions? Try to explore her culture for vegan food, so you both feel like you’re bonding.
For the practical stuff, I’d suggest trying to cook stuff that starts off vegan and let the omni add the “forbidden” stuff at the end sometimes. We make a lot of tacos, rice and bean dishes, falafel and pita, etc. I’ll prepare it as far as it goes staying vegan, and then take my portion and the husband will add meat or cheese to his portion. This can be done with lots of dishes. Overall, trust me, vegans and omnis manage to make happy lives all the time – it’s not very hard. You just have to be open with each other. And don’t be afraid to ask for practical stuff – like maybe keeping the non-vegan stuff in a separate area of the fridge.
Im what you would now call a flexatarian and my partner is omni. When we moved in together everyone was convinced that I would push him to being a vegetarian like I was at the time. It went the other way around I got pressured into meat eating. I dont like it. But what can I say? Im a co dependent eater?
I see a lot of variations on the “we establish rules, but overall no meat in the home” theme, and that’s basically how it went with us. When I started living with my now-husband, I was a vegetarian and he was an omnivore. He woukdn’t bring meat home out of respect for me because it bothered me so much, but eggs/dairy weren’t an issue. Slowly we evolved together, and now I’m a vegan and he’s a vegetarian. We have a vegan home, again out of respect for my morality.
I was raised omni and my husband has been veggie since birth (religious reasons). When we moved in together, since he DOESN’T cook, he asked that I just not cook meat in the house. Out of love and respect for him, I agreed of course. As time went on I realized the difference in how I would feel when I would eat meat when we went out and I have transitioned into full veggie. But I know I would have had a much harder time if he had been vegan. I love me my milk.
Honest question: Why does it bother some Vegans to have someone else cooking eggs or meat in the house? I’m seeing comments that reference how wonderful it is to have a “cruelty free” house and then turn around and say, “Don’t be condescending.” Not letting someone else cook their own food in a house that is their home too does not sound like compromising to me.
Well, for some vegans, keeping a cruelty-free kitchen is an ethical issue roughly equivalent to keeping kosher. One doesn’t go storming off to the local steakhouse to protest the bacon-cheese stuffed potatoes. But the standards for one’s own kitchen are a deal-breaker.
At the same time, going “No cheeseburgers for you because God loves me best. Nyah Nyah!” would tend to repel rather than attract people.
It’s really mostly a matter of what a person’s deal-breakers are. If dead cow in the kitchen is a deal-breaker, I’d rather the vegan say so, than offer a compromise that s/he finds repugnant and will want to rescind.
True, I’d rather the person be up front about it than be resentful. I’m still confused though, because I have no experience with being uncomfortable about food. I was taught as a kid that keeping Kosher was God’s way of keeping Jewish people from eating dangerous stuff that could kill them in ancient times (shellfish and pork can cause some nasty diseases if not cooked properly), or from making poor farming decisions (don’t boil the kid in the mother’s milk translates to: don’t eat more than what your livestock can steadily supply). But vegans aren’t avoiding food for health reasons, so contamination isn’t an issue. It’s an issue of not approving of someone else’s actions and the situation makes them uncomfortable. I just can’t imagine being so uncomfortable with someone’s habits that I forbid the person from having the right to be themselves in their own home.
First off, that is ONE explanation for the laws of Kashrut. Another is that the laws were meant to create a distinction between Jews and other people. Or just, G-d said so and thus you do it. It doesn’t matter what his motivation was.
You can’t imagine being so uncomfortable around food that you would care what someone else was eating. What about other issues? Many people are very strongly against spanking their children, for example. Should a person who is anti-spanking still allow their pro-spanking partner to spank their child?
Non health reason Vegans believe that the meat (et al) industry is actively harmful and morally wrong. For it to be in their home (or purchased from shared funds) could make them feel like they are helping to support something they find morally reprehensible.
Also, a lot of vegetarians and vegans just find meat to be gross. Imagine looking in your fridge for a snack and instead finding a giant cockroach. Or a pile of poo. Or anything that turns your stomach.
Well, if food safety was the only issue, there’d be little reason to keep kosher in the U.S., but decent numbers of people still do.
The reason I chose a religious analogy, though, is largely that I was thinking about the moral and ethical dimensions of food choices (which some vegans feel strongly about) and how people have different boundaries about “my religion is me, yours is you” versus “our home needs to be founded on common beliefs and practices.”
So it’s not exactly “I will not ALLOW my partner to do X” as “I need to be with a partner who agrees that our home is founded on certain shared values that rule out doing X and call for doing Y.”
Hey all, sorry for starting an argument. I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed in general so I keep venting my angst on the internet, which is totally not healthy. I’m not even affected by this issue in my life, so I shouldn’t have felt the need to voice a strong opinion. I apologize if I offended anyone.
you look at a piece of meat and see food; I look at it and see a life snuffed out. I am sure you have your own set of ethics. Maybe you disagree with hitting children, for example. I would never allow a person to take a belt to a child in my house. To that parent there is nothing wrong with hitting a child. To me, it’s abuse and it’s wrong and thus, upsetting to me. I don’t want to be around it. I don’t make a fuss in an omnis home, but my personal home is 100% cruelty free.
I hope I have offered an explanation without being offensive.
For me the reasons I can’t have meat cooked in my house are not all ethical. I actually find it unbearably gross. The smell really affects me (eggs too).
I avoided describing this in detail before in order to avoid sounding obnoxious but since you asked….I can’t bear to look at dead animal body parts in the fridge or smell them being cooked.
Although I’m an omnivore, I can relate. Tuna turns my stomach in a way that I can’t bear. I once tried eating it and couldn’t even swallow it. This has nothing to do with ethics, as I don’t mind most seafood, but the smell, texture, and look just freaks me out
This! Even as an omnivore, I have to season the crap out of my meat, because the smell of meat cooking is GROSS!
I’ve been a vegetarian in a mixed house (my dad was veg at the same time I was; all my brothers & my mom ate meat. Then I started eating it again in college and my brother went veg. Now everyone eats meat.) and it’s never a big deal. I think that what someone puts in their body is their business. As long as you’re considerate of each other and your girlfriend doesn’t cook, say, a steak dinner and expect you to eat sides (“except the mashed potatoes, I put butter in those,”) then you’re cool.
On a similar note, my husband and I are huge foodies – we bonded over food and cooking – and he’s been trying to lose weight by going low carb & low sugar, which sounds like TORTURE to me. He’s very disciplined, which I admire, but I find myself eating pasta and ice cream whenever he’s not home because I’ve been cooking all these Atkins-y meals!
After the first two weeks it’s not so bad. Giving up pasta for (veg*s turn away now…) butter poached steak isn’t a tough tradeoff.