One of my my more frequently asked questions has been about Alex and both of our dietary choices. Does Alex eat meat? How does it work? What does our cooking look like? Is meat “allowed”? Does Alex even want meat? Are we happy? Etc etc. Variations of the same general question: how does a kitchen of a vegan and meat eater work?
Lucky for us, it works pretty well. I think I’ve had one complaint ever (waking up in the middle of the night to some smokey smokey bone frying or something for a stock) and Alex has no complaints—- as far as I can remember. *I just asked, his answer, “no, I don’t have any complaints.” So we’re good 😉
So I guess the first question to answer is: who cooks in the house? When there’s no cookbook-ing it’s pretty equally split. It really depends on what we’re craving. I mostly handle soups, curries, sauces. Alex is the noodle and bread man. We split the tacos and the pasta. If I don’t feel like cooking, he does it. If he doesn’t feel like it, I do it. It’s like anything else in life, a (delicious) balance.
Yes, Alex eats meat, often-ish. Milk, everyday. Butter, eggs, and cheese, a lot. Most meals at home are vegan. I think the “standard american family” probably has a quick breakfast together (sometimes), lunch at work, and then joins each other for dinner together, yes? Maybe? Our lives are a bit reversed. We have our early days/lunch together and our evenings/dinners are apart. I’m not sure if it actually changes much though— we just have our bigger family meal during the day together, instead of at night. At night, Marlowe and I usually keep it pretty easy. Alex, working as a chef, eats whatever he pleases (or has time for) in the kitchen. Does he ever want meat at home during the day? He’s made it pretty clear that he doesn’t think much about it. An it never feels like it’s missing, so he doesn’t usually want it.
And I’ve answered it before, we’re usually that odd couple at the restaurant where one is subbing out egg noodles for rice noodles and the other is debating between a whole or half duck portion. Would I like Alex to not eat meat? Uh yeah, I’d love if everyone decided to not eat animals— but at the same time— I’d rather be with someone who makes his thoughtful food choices (as a meat eater) than someone who who only wanted processed, fried, and fast food “food”. So if you give me those two choices (not that it has to be between those two ever), I choose this— A mostly plant eater who eats meat sometimes.
We don’t cook seperate meals. The only time we create different meals is when one of us has already eaten or one of us is craving late night food— which for me, is typically chips or nachos (healthy, I know) and for Alex— an egg dish or fried rice (does anyone go for healthy food as a late night snack?). Otherwise, there’s no picky eaters club over here— we all eat the same meals together.
Here’s how we make it work with our life—- with the exception of pizza (or my late night, super duper healthy nachos), there’s no meals that require cheese in our home and recipe life. Would cheese be good on our meals? In your head you’re thinking, “um drea, what wouldn’t cheese be good on?!— yes, cheese would be good—- and so we have cheese in the house from time to time. Alex opts to put it on things (tacos, pasta) when we have it. And we have butter for toast. On the rare occasion we buy bagels, a regular cream cheese gets bought too. When we plan for pizza, we both plan to buy (or make) our respective cheeses. Not lately, since life has been more busy, but occasionally for our brunchdays a side of eggs would be made.
When we have people over for dinner, we plan our meals by our guests. More vegans, mean less (or no) non-vegan options. More meat eaters either means, a meat side (rare. see: friendsgiving.) or optional vegetarian add ons (typical). I would obviously prefer no meat in the house, but this isn’t my house, it’s our house and when we have guest over it’s their house too— so we meet in the middle as often as we can to please everyone involved. Unless you’re craving meat, I think it’s really, really safe to say that you won’t ever feel like you’re missing meat in this house. We don’t make some mock version of meat and except people to be satisfied “please eat this processed frozen tvp patty and pretend its chicken picata!” — we make food that tastes good all around, with lots of flavors and layers— so our food doesn’t ever feel like a meatless meal, it’s just a (delicious) meal. Are there substitutes in our cooking? Sometimes, but we’re slowly, over time, adding new recipes to take these things out (think: a basic cashew cheese). Substitutes can have a place, they do in my home, I’d be sad without a quick fix nacho solution at night, but they are not a solution to a non problem. Even as someone who occasionally uses them I can fully say, they are not a necessity, they are an occasional convince item.
I’m not an expert, but we have been doing this vegan &meat eater thing (on and off of course) for 6-ish years? And it works.
The few tips I’d offer people considering making dietary changes that they’re partner might not be making (vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, nut allergy, whatever) are:
-Find meals you both love– that meet both your requirements and needs— sit down together and do some research! Google your favorite recipes or new ideas and see how you can modify them to suit both of you. If needed, do this with wine.
-Do not (ever!) look at your diet as a “restriction”— it’s not. When I became vegan (9 ish years ago?) it didn’t limit me— instead I felt like I opened up to a whole new list of foods I never even considered before. Same goes for your partners food choice— it’s not a restriction, it’s an opportunity to explore more food. Be excited by it.
-Make house rules (if you’d like), and let them be broken. Unless there’s a serious allergy, it’s just food, it should be fun. Alex once tried to be a funny man and put eggs in my waffles (he was scared to make waffles without them, or something). I caught him. He failed. We re-made the waffles— they still came out good, no one got hurt, we all had brunch. That being said, I would not be okay– I would be pissed if someone tried to trick me into eating meat—- (even you, mom). That being said, I highly doubt anyone would actually try to do that.
-Be okay with the situation. Alex doesn’t ever expect me to eat meat. And I don’t ever expect Alex to become vegan. I love him for who he is, and part of who he is happens to be a pork lover, I can’t change that and we would both be resentful if I tried (and vice versa).
-If all else fails, plan family meals and separate meal times. Like, breakfast is fend for yourself and dinner is the meal for everyone to eat together. Or add more add-on options. Think about making a big batch of chicken, bacon, or whatever it is your or your partner pleases, and let that be an add on for the week. This works especially well for one pot meals or things like tacos.
-Eat together what you cook together. This forces you to make meals you both like. You’ll both be happy having a say in whats going on.
-And/or Cook for the other person. It’s nice when someone cooks for you right? Do make meals that you know the other person loves— that you enjoy too. They’re extra happy and you’re happy making them happy. Win/win.
I think what it comes down to is we both love food—- real food. We both love cooking. And maybe most importantly, we love each other 😉 haha. We’ve created simple meals that please everyone in the family— a vegan (or two) and a pork eater. We cook meals together and for each other. No one feels like they got the short end of the eating stick— we’re both well-fed and happy.
ps. sorry it’s been a bit quiet over here. I’m still cooking meal after meal after meal over here— and trying to spend a few extra minutes with the family everyday— But I do have a recipe post planned for tomorrow! It’s not my recipe— it’s a recipe guest post, but I’ve been told, its been created with me in mind—- so there maybe might be pizza or tacos— or both involved 😉