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How We Cook Together, A Vegan & A Pork Lover (& Tips On Making It Work)


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 ;) 
pps. look it's a picture of me in the kitchen! I realized this year that I don't have--- umm--- any? Well, there's one, but it's not my kitchen. Oh and except I do have pictures of my legs in the kitchen--- cause you know, Marlowe photography ;) 

17 comments:

  1. I always wondered how this works for you guys! I think it's great that you respect each other so much and don't get to picky or overboard. It's great!

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  2. What about Marlowe? Is she following a vegan diet like you or she can have some non vegan food if she's curious about that? How did you and Alex decide about her nutrition choices?

    Love, Vale

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    1. that answer is here http://ohdeardrea.blogspot.com/2010/10/mom-meet-up-veganism.html I made the choice for Marlowe before Alex and I were together. It seems to work for the three of us :)

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  3. I'm so happy that my vegan boyfriend didn't mind dating a meat eater. When we moved in together I would eat mostly vegan at home because it's easier to cook the same meal for both of us. I became a much better cook by trying new recipes to find things we both love. I'm vegan now too, so it's even easier. We both love food and cooking too.

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  4. My mum is a vegetarian and my dad is a meat eater....and it's never been an issue....I'm a veggie too...but I have dated guys who eat meat...and again (apart from one!) it's never been an issue..

    http://vodkaandarose.blogspot.co.uk

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  5. hello!!

    i am a vegetarian but both my husband and daughter eat meat.I stopped eating meat before knowing him but we didn´t agree to raise our daughter as a vegetarian although i hope she one day chooses not to eat meat because for me is gross to eat meat and i feel self-contradictory about feeding her with meat.
    So we also try to do meals that we all like and then on the weekends, where we have more time, i cook them meat-meals and vegetarian for me.

    My daughter is same age as yours and i was wondering that it would be nice if you share some tricks about cooking with a to toodler, i mean we do cook cookies together but then other foods, how do you keep it safe with the knifes, and the hot pots…and so on.

    Thank you for all your sharing, you are an inspiration

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    1. we're pretty strict about kitchen rules and food safety over here. Her getting a toddler knife was a big privilege. If she doesn't listen to the rules, she doesn't cook with us.

      I wrote a bit on cooking with kids here:
      http://ohdeardrea.blogspot.com/2011/12/cooking-with-baby.html

      and here:
      http://ohdeardrea.blogspot.com/2013/08/this-is-my-happy-place.html

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  6. I totally agree with the philosophy of just making good plant based meals that don't need meat substitutes. I often have people who eat conventional diets, eat the food I cook and they rarely even realize it's an official vegetarian meal.
    Anytime someone asks me for advice on eating a vegetarian diet, the first thing I tell them is to forget about all the "food rules" that have been ingrained in American culture. Doesn't the world know that the police aren't going to come arrest you if you make your lasagna without hamburger or sausage??? It dumbfounds me that so many people live their lives according to fake rules when it comes to food.

    I'm vegetarian and my husband is a 3/4 vegetarian (we did the math once since I do most of the cooking at home and he only eats a few meals out of the house each week that include meat). I am wondering if you actually ever cook the meat that Alex will be eating?
    If my husband wants pork or chicken with his tacos, I usually prepare everything else, and he prepares the meat on his own.

    My issues with the concept of eating meat just don't allow me to even hold a package of meat. I'm just wondering if you get a little squeamish when there is meat in your kitchen or if you're totally cool with it. Admittedly, I wish I could be a little less paranoid for the sake of my husband. I even annoy myself when it comes to disinfecting EVERYTHING!

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  7. What a well written post! I love this especially that you said, 'this isn't my house, it's our house'. Just lovely.

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  8. Such a well written post! I especially like 'this isn't my house, it's our house'. So lovely.

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  9. I always look forward to your posts. They're so colorful and easy to read. Your foods looks amazing and I'm so glad you have a "system" that works for you!

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  10. This is a question my man and I get all the time. He's like Alex (loves his pork), while I'm vegan. Like you all, we love to cook savory vegan meals at home, and trade off kitchen duties depending on who's feeling inspired to make what. Because our homemade meals satisfy us both, we rarely keep anything that's not vegan in our home. But when we go out it's comical—he'll order a pancetta omelet with a side of bacon, whereas I'll get a kale salad (hold the parmesan, sub. avocado). Sometimes, he'll order vegan fare when we're out (even at non-veg restaurants). He has always been supportive of my dietary choices, and I, his. I think that's really key: mutual respect of—and support for—each others' choices. Plus a killer batch of carob chip cookies every once in a while. That never hurts.

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  11. Thanks for explaining how you two work things out, it's helpful for me as I think I might have to do something similar with my boyfriend someday.

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  12. I'm so glad you wrote this. I've been a vegan for half a year and thought that I would only date a vegan. Well, that didn't happen. He's a meat and potatoes guy but wants more veggies in his life. I knew we weren't the only couple, so I wanted to see how it worked for others. I will def continue to follow your blogs!! Thanks.

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  13. I recently came across your blog and really appreciate how you blog more about life in general and veganism is just part of it. I'm a vegan as well and that's the same way I think and how I handle my own blog, which is rare to find in the vegan blogger community.

    This is a great post! It's so interesting to see how other couples do it. My husband and I have been together 14+ years and I was a vegan when I met him, though he is not. He says he thinks it's one of the sexiest things about me.

    He's tried going vegetarian but it didn't work for him, he wasn't happy so instead we have a system very similar to yours. I do all the cooking (he jokes he could burn a salad) so when we're home he eats completely vegan but if we order takeout or go out he gets what he likes. I think you may have inspired me to share what works for us on my own blog!

    - Corrie

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  14. I recently came across your blog and really appreciate how you blog more about life in general and veganism is just part of it. I'm a vegan as well and that's the same way I think and how I handle my own blog, which is rare to find in the vegan blogger community.

    This is a great post! It's so interesting to see how other couples do it. My husband and I have been together 14+ years and I was a vegan when I met him, though he is not. He says he thinks it's one of the sexiest things about me.

    He's tried going vegetarian but it didn't work for him, he wasn't happy so instead we have a system very similar to yours. I do all the cooking (he jokes he could burn a salad) so when we're home he eats completely vegan but if we order takeout or go out he gets what he likes. I think you may have inspired me to share what works for us on my own blog!

    - Corrie

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