OPEN THREAD: How to Love, Date and/or Cohabitate with a Vegetarian

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Q:
My girlfriend is a STRICT vegetarian. We fight about it sometimes because she would like her house to be vegetarian and I am moving in with her. Tell me all your feelings GO.

A:
You should probably rethink this, but let’s go ahead with the idea that you’re moving in.

This will sound stupid, but: talk about it first in great detail! If it’s going to be really upsetting to her if you come home from hamburgers and beer and fall asleep next to her without washing the hamburger out of your mouth with bleach first, that’s something you want to know before the fact.

You will already have dealt with this for a while, but the thing is you have to eat food outside the house too, so for anyone who finds themselves dating a strict eater or noneater or something, there are some things you want to keep in mind. Maybe number one is parents: if your girl is going to spend any time with them or ever come home for holidays, you need to communicate her dietary needs to your parents very clearly and make sure she doesn’t need to defend them. One of the best and most fun fights you can ever have is after your partner has met your parents for the first time and they kept shoveling fish onto her plate because “it’s not meat” and “it’s a holiday” and she feels like she has to choose between betraying all her food principles or pleasing your parents. Just, you know, hypothetically, I think that would be a terrible fight to have to have.

Also, in this as in all things, it’s going to be more fun if you look for similarities rather than differences. What I am saying is, you should cook stuff together! Pick out recipes together that you’ll both like and make dinner together; or if your school/life/work schedules make this easier, take turns preparing  and making meals for each other. Maybe this is just because I’m a huge food-obsessed weirdo, but I really love looking through recipe books and blogs, and it could be a nice thing to pick out vegetarian recipes that you want to make together one day.
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– Practical kitchen tips for omnivores who live with herbivores –

+ Get your own cutting boards, knives, skillets. If you’re a strict veg, the idea of using cookware that’s come into contact with raw meat of any kind is just nauseating — cast iron skillets especially.

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+ Buy a plastic bin with a lid for the refrigerator to keep your meats in. I was seriously able to feel the negative energy and sadness of uncooked meats in my fridge and it was really depressing. The least you can do is keep all of it in one sanitary, enclosed place. Wash this bin out often. Possibly daily.

keep animal products separate from everything else

+ Don’t ever ever use wooden spoons for anything.

+ Have a spray bottle of bleach water on-hand so you can clean every inch of the countertops when you’re done with food prep.

+ Open windows when you cook animals and turn on all vents / fans.

In the end, it’s important to keep your sense of humor and respect boundaries, which goes for every relationship. Vegetarians and meat-eaters! They’re just like us!

Do you have any advice for the happy couple? Can herbivores and omnivores cohabitate peacefully? Have you dealt with a similar situation? Do you think a bin of raw meat is maybe the solution to every problem ever?

If you have a question for Riese, Laneia or Rachel, you should just go ahead and ask.

Laneia is the Executive Editor and founding member of Autostraddle, and you're the reason she's here.

Laneia has written 927 articles for us.

172 Comments

    • Yes, our industries treat animals horribly, but being a vegetarian doesn’t change that. Buying meat, eggs, milk and other animal products from farmers who do it right DOES help, because you’re helping them survive as businesses.

      VEGETARIANS: Would you date someone who only buys humane animal products?

      • Y’know, I’m vegan (though perhaps not the world’s very strictest vegan — for instance, I don’t take great pains to avoid honey though I don’t buy it — but definitely no meat/dairy/eggs/gelatin/etc.), have been for close to a decade now, but I just can’t get very worked up about partners/friends/family eating animal products. Like, I’m vegan because I don’t find it very difficult and if you can avoid participating in suffering in a way that is not very difficult I think you should do it — but some people *would* find it very difficult and I am not sure that is a fair demand to make of each other.

        My girlfriend eats organic meats on occasion and I can see why someone would do that. A lot depends on one’s core beliefs about our relationship to animals, our ideas about ethics, and so forth. I wouldn’t dream of trying to claim absolute authority for my feelings on the matter — I figure about all the evangelism I have in me is to live as a vegan and be happy and act as living proof that it can be done.

        • See, I have similar feelings about veg*ns even though I’m an omnivore. I know a lot of people who get all “HURR DURR BACON” whenever someone mentions they’re veg, and I… just don’t get it. Why do you care what other people are eating?

          Basically, as long as you’re not a jerk about it, I don’t care what you eat! ;)

    • oh god I just watched the trailer. That was so disturbing. How can anyone be so cruel?

      If I weren’t already vegan, I absolutely would make the change after watching that.

  1. I am really bad at getting all of my feelings into one comment. It was really hard for me to date someone who ate meat, and is sometimes hard now to date someone who eats dairy on occasion, because seeing someone I love who is a kind person participate in something I see as violent and destructive and unethical and oppressive is really sad, you know? So to her it was just the food she ate and to me it was a social justice issue. I do think it can be more complicated than just bleach water, though that is good too.

  2. OH HEY! This sounds like a subject I know something about. I’m going to ignore the fact that this question is about another person and assume it’s, obvs, about me.

    So you want to date me? Here are some TheVegetarian Pro Tips:

    Along with eating food with your parents, there is likely to come a time we eat food in a public place, like a restaurant, together. Just realize that I might not be thrilled to go to a burger or steak joint where I can only order the Steak Master Deluxxxe Salad without the steak, bacon, or salad dressing. I will put up with it a few times, but I’d probably prefer to go to Falafel House or just stay and cook my own food that’s sure to be vegetarian.

    Also, don’t feel obligated to eat my tofu or whatever else seeming gross vegetarian stuff I cook without meat if you don’t actually like it. I won’t be insulted, and it’ll make my food last longer! Also, you grimacing while eating there black bean burgers I spent an hour will only irritate both of us. It’s cool if you eat meat… just don’t rub it on me or something.

    Finally, this might seem obvious, but I want to drive the previous point home. Please please please don’t try to force feed me meat, touch me with meat, sneak non vegetarian stuff into my food, or be a jerk to me! I realize not every person in the world is going to be like me, but I’ll respect you and your McD’s Big Mac if you respect my bowl of Quinoa. Also, it would be really sexy if you politely asked your friends to stop making rude comments to me if we all happened to go out to dinner somewhere.

    Alright, that’s all I’ve got for now.

  3. I am able to live fairly comfortably with the omnivore partners I’ve had– however- I literally think every bad/deal breaker has happened when eating at a restaurant. One time my ex and I were at a family great Italian restaurant and they REFUSED to share one of the entrees that serve 3-4 people. They also took me to eat at an upscale steak restaurant on a special occasion with their family. I had to eat salad all night and felt humiliated. My partner didn’t even tell the family I was vegetarian and said “Oh I forgot. Sorry babe.” Deal breaker, darling! :snap: Restaurants make vegetarians life hard; my heart usually sinks when it comes to special occasions. :/

  4. One of my best friends it a vegetarian and I hunt (underwater, but we both think grabbing lobsters, crabs, scallops, etc. is ethically the same as shooting a deer). He’s not, uh, my girlfriend, but we’ve known each other since we were 5, so there’s something. We’ve managed to eat together for years without it being a big deal.

  5. My bestie is a vegetarian and her gf is a meat-eating chef, so I see some of the action! Basically the girlfriend cooks really good vegetarian stuff for my bestie the majority of the time, so it makes up for the two-three meals a week when the girlfriend cooks juicy steaks or chicken a la whatever. The vegetarian meals are all things girlfriend learns in culinary school so they’re fun and inventive. Try to buy a cool vegetarian cookbook and experiment with different types of cuisines! I’m a meat eater from Texas, and I’ve eaten a lot of vegetarian meals that I didn’t know were vegetarian!

    So compromise is the best situation here! I think the girlfriend limits the animal products in the fridge and buys the meat products like the day of the meal.

    Just try to find fun recipes, and explain to your girlfriend that you love her, but you also love to eat meat.

  6. It’s like you put tiny cameras in my brain and documented the last few months of my life!

    My girlfriend is pescaterian, and I a lover of the meaty stuff, so its a bit difficult trying to agree on a place to eat or dinner preparations that isn’t sushi. Luckily, being a chef, I can usually figure out something cheap to make that will please us both. There are plenty of veggie friendly things to make, like pasta or nachos, breakfast foods are awesome anytime of day. A fun date night thing would be to make your own pizza’s and have a picnic in the living room. Just be sure to have plenty fresh veggies on hand.

    If you’re not so culinarily inclined, Mediterranean and Indian food places cater to both. AVOID FAST FOOD!!! 1) Not many places offer vegetarian options, 2) it not’s the best place for a dinner date, c’mon, and 3) its just not good for anybody really…

    When my girl and I go out we try to first figure out what we’re in the mood for, then see if they have an online menu to browse. Usually when we get there, I order what I want and she orders what she wants. I don’t HAVE to order non meat dishes, but sometimes its nice to be able to share food with the one you love.

    The important thing is we don’t try to change each other. I love food waaay too much to exclude anything, and I respect her reasons for not eating meat. Honestly, I love the challenge of trying to cook new meals for her and being exposed to something I ordinarily wouldn’t have considered.

  7. As a vegan living with an omnivore/mac-and-cheese-vore, the thing I appreciate most is that my wife heavily ventilates the house when she cooks meat. When you don’t eat meat, the smell of cooking meat is not very pleasant.

    • yes, may I emphasise this. when you come home after a long day at work to house that smells strongly of cooking meat (including your bedroom) this is when one could, theorectically, start crying a little.

      • oh god, this

        living as a vegan student in student housing with 5 other meat-eating students, i was the last to get home from work (they worked 8 hour hospital shifts, i worked 12 hour hospital shifts) and i was always “greeted” by the overwhelming smell of meat.
        i don’t think it was ever to the point of crying but despair, sure. /o\

  8. I’m a vegetarian and I don’t live with my girlfriend but I live with my parents who both eat meat. It’s never really been a problem though. I became a vegetarian when I wasn’t living with them but when I moved back in they just kind of stopped eating meat at home. They never buy meat any more but will eat it if they go out somewhere. I love cooking and they love my vegetarian meals so it just kind of works.

    I don’t have any advice because um…my parents are totally awesome and pretty willing to accomodate my eccentricities.

  9. I feel like this makes me a bad person, but I can’t really picture myself in a cohabitation situation with a vegetarian/vegan/non-meat eater. I live on and was born/raised on a farm where raising beef cattle was/is a huge part of my life. Most people think I’m a sociopath to be okay with eating them considering to this day, I generally know the name, parents and lifestory from birth of every hamburger I eat, but it’s kind of a big deal for me.

    I feel like our cows have an understanding of their lives? Like they’re… okay with it? I am vehemently anti-factory farm/feedlot, but the way our animals are raised, with care, dignity and respect in life and death, I somehow just get this *feeling* from them that they understand. I feel like this probably doesn’t make sense, but anyways. #havingalotoffeelings.

    • Next time someone calls you a sociopath, ask them to take a tour of the hellhole where their discount supermarket hamburger meat comes from, and see if they can still swallow it down afterwards without any ethical misgivings.

      I don’t eat meat because I would personally find it traumatic to participate in an animal’s demise. But I know that everyone is not like me, and I have much less of a problem with scrupulous carnivores such as yourself than I do with people who never give a thought to where their food comes from.

      • I just get sick of people calling me a sociopath when, like you said, they have no problem eating “meat” from a feedlot or unethical kill floor, and vegetarians/vegans telling me all farms treat their animals horribly, I’m a horrible person for living on a farm with meat animals, end of story, with zero regard for anything I could possibly say re: animal welfare. I know exactly how our animals live and exactly how they die, and am a great believer in Temple Grandin’s work on the subject.

        Basically it’s just getting to the point where I feel like it would be easier to just lie and say we raise nothing but grain crops. :/

        I’m also (and here we go, subject jump time!) disturbed by the fact that people who claim to be vegetarian/vegan because of their views on animals so willing to eat fruits and vegetables harvested by farmers and workers living on poverty wages in near-intolerable conditions or on destroyed rainforest land. I mean, really?? Nobody is seeing this connection?

        • Yeah, but if they admitted that then they would have to be a bit less self-righteous/smug when lecturing everyone else about the evils of meat (not saying that all vegetarians/vegans are self-righteous, but there’s a good number of them)

          • I’m starting to wonder if I just have known a lot of douchey veg folks. I knew 2 who were great, but they were overwhelmed by the d-bags.

            And maybe I’ve just gotten lucky with the omnivores? The idea of people sneaking meat into someone else’s food is boggling my mind.

        • Nope, I don’t necessarily think that veggie folks are “okay with” poor labor conditions on farms. Right? No one’s going to defend that. Like everything, it’s a matter of degree. Of course we can always do better. Of course I could try to rigorously source *all* the foods I eat — scratch that, all the things I buy of any kind — and, I dunno, never take a plane anywhere, never use anything that would have to be thrown in the trash . . . this sort of thing could very easily take up your entire life, and maybe for some people that is a good life to live in itself. But I have many other uses for my time, so I’m vegan, don’t drive by choice, try to make eco-responsible decisions, and be aware that I am not going to be perfect. We all do what we can.

          And maybe it’s because I’m from the meat-and-potatoes midwest, but in my experience the “self-righteous vegan” trope is a bit overplayed. I run in a pretty mixed crowd of veg- and non-veg friends. We all get along fine.

          • I have actually experienced the “self-righteous vegan”, but that was back at my hippie college with all the people trying to out-hippie each other all the time.

            I have also met some pretty self-righteous omnivores, though, as mentioned above. Basically there are assholes in each extreme.

          • Yeah, I remember there being some kidding about my sister when she was a vegetarian, but to my recollection it was pretty good-natured and mostly centered around the fact that she’s eating veggie burgers on a beef farm.

            I can’t believe there are seriously people sneaking meat onto vegetarians plates/into their meals. What the actual fuck.

          • I feel like my comment comes off as a massive generalization because I wasn’t being careful enough when I wrote it, so that’s definitely on me (one of those “I know what I meant in my head, why doesn’t what I wrote say what I meant?” moments, lol). So to clarify, I surely do not think that every veg*n is okay with terrible farm labour conditions for people, but I have been surprised to encounter people who were willing to proselytize me about their “cruelty-free” lifestyles with no meat, animal products, etc, and then buy their vegetables from Wal-Mart. And any mention of that was met with the sort of la-la-la-I-can’t-hear-you fingers in ears reaction, which just seemed beyond strange to me.

            I’m sure I’m worse than you because I do drive, eat meat, etc, and I don’t claim to be perfect and I’m sure I’ve contributed to animal/human suffering in thousands of ways, and I admire the HELL out of people willing/able to do their lives without animal products, esp. from the ecological standpoint, but… I don’t know. Maybe I’ve just encountered more of the self-righteous vegan stereotype people in my life than most? People seem to go a little nutsy on me when they find out I farm.

    • For me, a lot of meat dishes are comfort things. As someone who lives abroad (and is probably doomed to remain so) asking me to give up on them is asking me to let go of something that connects me to my home country. I try to make ethical choices with my meat, and minimize the amount of animal products for eco-geek reasons, but I can’t bring myself to feel bad about meat itself.

    • I grew up on a pig farm and I couldn’t agree more. I think part of the problem results from kids who are born away from an environment where they can’t see exactly where their food comes from. In my experience, growing up on a farm has helped me to understand just how a pig functions and thinks. I truly believe that they, (pigs and cattle, etc) understand and accept because that’s all they know how. I suppose, one could argue that they would have potentially had a better life otherwise, but that’s what people who don’t spend a lot of time around pigs (or livestock) would think, and maybe they would have, but maybe not. I don’t think livestock animals have the cognitive ability to consider and take to heart other options, like humans would. Humans put there emotions into everything, and I’m not saying animals don’t feel, but I think we can all generally agree that they don’t feel to the same extent as we do. As a result, I think humans tend to believe that animals share the same amount of emotion and thought as we do..but we really don’t. I tend to think of eating animals as the way native americans might have, which may sound really cheesy, but here me out.. I have a deep appreciation and respect for all animals, especially the pigs my family raises. They deserve our respect, and care. Now, I’m not saying that all farms, industries, etc are wonderful, safe havens, however a lot of the videos that are shown online are dramatized, and I’m not saying this to prove a point or to say that meat eaters are better than vegetarians or vegans. In fact, I personally don’t eat a lot of meat for health reasons, and plus two of my closest friends are vegetarians. I think people should eat whatever the hell they want to eat, and never try to force someone to feel otherwise. Vegetarians may feel pressured to eat meat, but so do meat eaters.. that is, to not eat meat . Nobody should feel pressured..

      • This is very similar to how I was raised, even though I’m a bit more of a city kid – my dad hunted and fished throughout my childhood, and meat was never something that just came from a supermarket for me and my brother. When we said grace before dinner, we thanked the animal as well as God.

        And I completely agree with you about the sensationalistic anti-farming images you see online.

      • I know this is a super old thread but I completely disagree. I was raised around lots of animals and that’s part of the reason why I became a vegetarian initially. Nowadays I live in a big city where getting meat from local small farmers or hunters would be impossible, and that adds to my reasons since animals in factory farms are treated so much worse than the ones I knew as a kid.

  10. I recently decided I want to go vegetarian although I am still trying to figure it all out (good recipes ect) Some of the things I have tried so far taste far better than what I was eating. I got some breakfast sausage style veggie protein stuff and it blew away any sausage I ever had. I am doing this mostly because it causes me to be more aware of what food I consume and make healthier decisions and really makes you tap into culinary creativity so meat eaters don’t bother me.

  11. I lived with a roommate that I didn’t know very well for a year who was a strict vegetarian. She explained pretty much what you guys just did. That she needed separate pots and pans and utensils and to keep meat separate in the fridge and freezer. I’m not much of a meat eater myself, but I have a feeling now after reading this that me and my other roommate probably drove her crazy because even though we took her seriously we probably weren’t that careful with it because she never really explained how it made me her feel to have meat around. I did notice after awhile she tended to avoid us at meal times. Thanks for the info in case I’m in that situation again.

    • Also though! Not everybody feels this way. Of course I’m not going to cook something in meat juices, but it would not occur to me to think, “omg, you used that knife to cut your BLT, now I can NEVER USE IT AGAIN.” Like, I don’t think the ghost of that pig is going to haunt the utensil drawer forever. And it weirds me out when meat-eaters are like, “Oh, I bet you HATE the smell of that steak grilling somewhere in the neighborhood, right? I bet you can never eat at the same table with a meat-eater, huh? You poor sensitive hippie weirdo” (the last part being implied). But I guess some people really do feel that way? So maybe I oughta be less annoyed. I’d just rather no one made a big production about my food choices, I guess.

  12. I’m super lucky to be in a relationship where we are both respectful of each others’ food preferences. And my gf is perfectly happy to eat veggie meals most of the time. So it really isn’t that big of a deal for us.

  13. To be perfectly honest, the idea of sleeping with an omnivore makes me queasy, let alone living with one who I am sleeping with. My current roommate is an omni, but since I moved in with her she’s been slowly turning almost-vegan (she’s cheese-obsessed, which I understand, as that was the hardest thing for me to give up).

    I feel as though the more a veg* cooks awesome meals for their omni partner, the easier it is for them to accept living in a cruelty-free household. If you MUST eat meat, I really don’t see why it’d be so difficult to do that out of the house, and to be conscious and respectful while at home…. The more animal products you keep out of your body, the better for your health as well as the environment.

    Plus, it’s not like any of the veg*n meals I cook are any less delicious just because they lack products that come from other living, breathing beings. Then again, if I must toot my own horn, I’m a pretty amazing chef. Plus, if you make really good seitan (and it MUST be home-made – store-bought seitan has gross texture) then your omni will really never notice the difference.

    • In regards to home-made seitan, I highly recommend playing with the recipes in Veganomicon and Vegan With a Vengeance. I combine things from the two of them and I’m essentially obsessed with my seitan piccata.

      Plus, Daiya is a new miracle food that legitimately replaces any need for cheddar or mozzarella (AND NOW EVEN PEPPER-JACK!) without one even noticing. Plus it’s almost entirely allergen-free. It’s basically my savior.

        • That’s really tragic, I’m sorry to hear it. The good thing is, there were vegans for a long long time before Daiya came along, and they managed just fine.

          For cheesy-flavors, I’m a big fan of nutritional yeast, plus it gives me all of my B vitamins! I make a mean “ricotta” sans Dayia with the unsweetened milk-substitute of choice (for me, it’s usually almond milk) made into a bechemel, silken + firm tofu + nutritional yeast. I try to keep my soy intake minimal, but I can’t imagine cutting it out completely…

    • “If you MUST eat meat, I really don’t see why it’d be so difficult to do that out of the house.”

      Some omnivores don’t eat a lot of meat, but some of them do. There was another comment where someone mentioned she was allergic to a variety of plant products, and therefore meat was a huge staple of her diet because she had to eat SOMETHING. People like that shouldn’t be expected to do all of their eating out of the house.

      But in general, it’s just ridiculous to expect someone to eat something out of the house because you can’t handle being around it, if you don’t have an allergy or something. It’s her house, too, and she should be able to have the same ability to eat what she wants when she wants that you seem to be demanding of her. You can’t expect her to make all these sacrifices for you and then start policing her food choices as well.

      Perhaps the solution is just not to date an omnivore (which said you’re pretty squeamish about doing anyway) if you have so many objections.

  14. Why are so many lesbians vegetarians? Does it just come with the turf? I don’t believe that eating animals is inherently bad, just the way we treat them is really shitty…so free range no-hormone chicken maybe okay?

    • I’m totally on the same boat as you. I’ve been reading all these comments completely baffled by the amount of veg* lady-loving-ladies that are out there. As you, too, I don’t believe that eating animals is inherently bad (morally/physically), so it is interesting to hear differing opinions.

      I do wonder, do all veg* people who are veg* because of animal cruelty also regulate their produce intake due to, well, cruelty towards other human beings or “modern day slavery”?

      • To live in the world as humans, we have to accept some level of cruelty. Whether it’s the guy in the factory making t-shirts who has a repetitive boring job (even if in a first world non-sweatshirt factory) or the animal that has its life cut short, there’s some level of cruelty to others in consuming/using ANYTHING that wasn’t made entirely by you. And if everything you use and consume was made by you… well then you’re likely enduring the cruelty yourself.

        We all just have different cruelties that we’re not willing to contribute to!

      • I’m vegetarian, and I do try to be aware of where my produce comes from. I usually try to buy organic and/or local… but for certain products that’s just not an option (like bananas, they are never local where I live) But luckily at Whole Foods they have bananas and pineapples and a few other fruits veggies that are “Whole Trade” which basically means there are standards set concerning the workers who harvest the food, and the environment in which it is grown.

        Not all veg* people do this, and unfortunately I don’t think it even occurs to most people… It’s just like people who eat meat, some are aware of the practices that go on in the industry, and make decisions accordingly, while some are completely oblivious, and there are many people who fall somewhere inbetween.

  15. It’s hard for me to write about this without having a lot of feelings. I eat meat about once or twice a fortnight, usually have no troubles dining / living with herbivores. However, I once had a STRICT vegetarian roommate, and it was disaster, even though we discussed how we were going to work it extensively before I moved in.

    It didn’t matter what I did – plastic boxes for meat, separate utensils, kitchen fans – he got really sad / angry whenever there was meat around. What wound up happening was that he thought I was a murderer who wanted to destroy the environment, and I thought he was an irrational douche for alleging that meat juice could evaporate through sealed plastic boxes in a refrigerator. It just didn’t work.

    So I guess what I would say is that if a meat eater and a vegetarian live together, the compromise goes TWO WAYS. The meat eater has to engage with meat on terms that the vegetarian can live with. The vegetarian is going to have to accept the presence of meat, and also that it is going to affect them in some way, i.e. despite ventilation meat will smell when you cook with it. It can definitely work – I can think of one couple who were together for 20+ years until one of them passed away – but it won’t work unless both partners can be respecting and accommodating of each other’s beliefs and lifestyle.

    • I would only agree to the meat in the bin if I was *absolutely sure* there was no craziness coming down the pike after that. Craziness for me being you-plastic-transgressing-meat-juice-conjurer-murdering-sad-causer-you. If you give crazy an inch, it is like a runaway train.

  16. I like cured pork sometimes. I don’t cook meat but it’s nice if someone else does. Especially if it’s someone else’s mom. I used to be a vegetarian when I was a kid. I used to live with a vegan. Now I just eat whatever is least likely to cause pain/bank account droppage. Usually this means a root veggie with some fucking salt on it. ugh.

    BUT I used to play this song on repeat when the vegan ex and I were fighting about something unrelated to food just ’cause. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=linKqhPVq60 .

    Dietary differences = deadly weapons when you’re really fighting about something more important. POTENTIAL.

  17. I admit, I’m a crazy carnivore (well actually omnivore). Point is, I’m southern and I LOVE MEAT!!! I have friends who are vegetarian and my current gf is (actually she’s kosher, but pretty much veggie-head). I admit to being completely insensitive and i joke on them all the time, though I’m nicer to my gf. I just dont know if I could personally live in a vegan house. I refuse to give up cheeseburgers and barbeque. It’s against my meaty religion.

    • See, the joking really bothers me as a vegetarian. Don’t do that! It gets really old. Like, it would be fine if it only happened occasionally, but instead, if you’re veg*,it happens ALL THE FUCKING TIME.

      So, :( on joking about vegetarianism.

      Also, re: “I refuse to give up cheeseburgers and barbeque. It’s against my meaty religion.” — not all of us are asking you to. Don’t feel preemptively threatened just because someone tells you they’re a vegetarian. Believe me, we get proselytized a lot more than you do.

      I come from the South too, btw. Go Arkansas!

  18. As a vegetarian who has lived with meat-eaters (at various times with my parents, friends, and a lover) and I think the most important thing is respect. On both sides. You don’t have to understand your partner’s point of view, but you do need to respect it. That means no waving meat in the herbivore’s face, sneaking it into their food (seriously, vomiting is not funny), lecturing the herbivore about the supposed virtues of meat/being at the top of the food chain/Atkins/whatever, etc. And likewise, no lecturing the omnivore about the environmental costs, the animal abuses, the health costs, or whatever of meat eating. Sure, honest discussions are fine if both parties are interested (and, really, if you’re in a serious relationship, you’d probably want to talk about such an important part of your partner’s life), but nobody wants their partner getting up on a sopabox every time they turn around.

    It’s important to talk about your expectations in detail with each other. Some vegetarians don’t mind being around cooking meat or sharing refridgerator or counter/oven space with it. Some feel physically ill just seeing or smelling it. At the same time, omnivores should be able to feel comfortable eating in their own home. Talk to each other and see what each person needs and see what compromises you can both live with.

    It’s also important for the meat-eating partner to remember that they can always eat vegetarian dishes, but the same cannot be said for the vegetarian partner. If you’re going out to eat or are making a meal, it’s important to take that into consideration. There are thousands of different kinds of vegetables out there; try them out and see what kind of amazing dishes you didn’t know you’d love! And as for eating out, don’t make the vegetarian partner feel like they’re being a burden for wanting to eat in restaurants that have tasty options available to them. But at the same time, it won’t kill the vegetarian partner to make do with a side salad every once in a while if the omnivore partner really wants to eat at a certain restaurant now and then.

    • Thanks for this, it makes me feel better about having to finally stop seeing a friend who I literally could NEVER speak to without having at least one jab about me and how awful my omnivore ways were, even though I’d never said a thing about her vegetarianism. I always wondered if I was being unreasonable, so ummm, thanks for making me feel better? :)

    • Also! I think you really nail it when you say “on both sides”. It shouldn’t just be about the non-veg partner accommodating the veg one, because one-sidedness in a relationship is a recipe for disaster… whether it occurs in relation to food choices or to anything else. It’s about working together to find something you can both live with :)

      • In my opinion, this article was kind of one-sided. It seemed to place all the responsibility for “compromise” on the shoulders of the omnivore and that’s not fair. I totally agree with Raksha, Sterling_sky and Dizzy – respect needs to be on BOTH sides and so does compromise.

        Here’s an analogy:
        My partner and I are both omnivores however there are certain foods that the other just cannot tolerate eating or even really being around. For me that food is peanut butter. I loathe the stuff. Just the smell is enough to set me off on a vomiting cycle. It’s nasty. Jill LOVES PB. On the other hand she cannot stand mushrooms, loathes them, they practically make her vomit. HOWEVER – we BOTH compromise. I cook her peanut butter cookies occasionally as a surprise because I know they are her favorite, and she will occasionally make me sauteed mushrooms (she makes the best ones in the WORLD) because she knows how much I love them. Neither of us loves the ingredient we are cooking with but we do it for the one we love.

        I’m not saying a veggie could eat meat for an omni – I’m just saying that a veggie and an omni can compromise and make it work.

        I don’t feel it’s fair to put all the responsibility for the relationship’s food fairness just on the omnivore. Yes, the omnivore can eat veggies but the vegetarian cannot eat meat, we get it. But that doesn’t mean compromise shouldn’t be had on BOTH sides of the relationship.

        In addition – I believe ANYONE can live with ANYONE if there is enough love, respect, kindness and compromise. Whether that is a veggie and a omni or whatever!!! And NO ONE should try to convert ANYONE! Omnivores should not try to make veggies eat meat and vice versa!

    • “sneaking it into their food (seriously, vomiting is not funny)”

      Except this wouldn’t be an issue for most omnivores, as most of us are not complete assholes. Even among the ones who are really insensitive and preachy around vegetarians or vegans, they would never sneak meat up on them. I’m really sorry that you’ve known people who were that awful, but they are not representative of us as a whole.

      And the thing is, most of the omnivores I’ve known who felt strongly that vegetarianism was stupid or unnecessary would know better than that to date one. Just like how most vegetarians/vegans who think that meat-eating is a serious moral failing probably wouldn’t date meat-eaters. That’s what I think should be the natural response to this extreme compromising required here. Can’t handle meat in the house? Don’t date someone who eats meat. I’m not going to sneak my corned beef sandwiches around like it’s porn or drugs or some other shameful thing. Respect goes both ways, and if you can’t handle that, that’s your problem, not your partner’s.

      • “Except this wouldn’t be an issue for most omnivores, as most of us are not complete assholes”

        No, most omnis wouldn’t even think of doing something like that. The thing is, though, that the people I’ve known who’ve tried to do that (either to me or to another veg in the past) weren’t actually trying to be assholes. They just didn’t understand that eating meat after being veg for a while will make a person vomit. They just didn’t understand vegetarianism and didn’t take it seriously, so they thought it would be a funny joke to trick someone into eating meat. That’s why I said the most important thing is respect. Going both ways!

        And as for the rest of your post, that’s basically what I said in the rest of mine.

  19. I feel like on the one hand no-one should ever have to type a sentence like “Please don’t sneak meat into my food or try to make me eat meat when we’re out with your parents”, but I also feel like the idea that it’s not okay for knives – which are steel, which wash clean – to come into contact with meat and then ever be used again ever to do something vegetarian is maybe also a little bit unreasonable. Especially because knives are really expensive. Feeling the “negative energy and sadness of uncooked meat in the fridge” is maybe a sign that you do NOT have a sense of humour about it and also should not live with a meat-eater who’s not willing to be completely vegetarian at home. There has to be a sense of compromise and acceptance going both ways, and having an attitude of “I find you and the food you eat so completely revolting that even seeing it or being forced to encounter the fact of it” is not really, um…compromising. You know?

    So to the person writing in, if your partner is really strict, I think you should not move in unless you’re willing to be completely vegetarian at home. Which is actually not that bad, if you can; vegetarian food can be cheap and fun and you can always have a burger for lunch. (Although I do think vegetarians need to acknowledge that basically by requesting this they’re asking their partner to pay more to live with them, because eating meat out is much more expensive than making it at home. What you might see as no big deal, because hey vegetarian food tastes good and you’re not actually asking them to change, just to not eat meat around you – what you’re asking is a financial commitment as well as giving up a whole range of foods that can only be prepared at home and may have a lot of socioemotional significance for them. My girlfriend at the moment doesn’t eat chicken, and if we ever move in together giving up the occasional roast chicken with all the trimmings and seven roast vegetables is going to be a big emotional deal for me.)

    The idea about cooking together and learning more about her food is a good one though, and IMO goes for everyone moving in with anyone, vegetarian or significant other or whatever. Cooking for someone is such a nice way to get to know them and to put some energy and good stuff into them. And the more negotiation and discussion and effort everyone puts into the kitcheny stuff at the beginning, the less likely that is to cause ginormous awful problems later down the track.

    • I like how delicate you were and avoided judgment. I’ll say it then: Bitch is crazy. I’m a vegetarian but refusing to use clean utensils that have touched meat or “feeling the negative energy” of the meat in the fridge? How on earth does someone like that ever eat at any restaurant in the world? or leave their house?

      I feel moral objection to a lot of things, like Republicans, but you’ve got to just accept sometimes peoplehave other values, as long as they respect that you have yours. You can fight for change and take up a cause, but… damn. Feeling pissed off and inconvenienced by its mere existence ain’t gonna fix it.

      Live and let live. Eat and let eat.

    • Totally. I’m a vegetarian and I kind of find it weird that you would refuse to use utensils, pots etc that have been used to prepare meat after they’ve been cleaned. If I did that I would not be able to use any of the cooking stuff in my house because I’m pretty sure somewhere along the line it has touched meat.

      But then again that may just be me. I actually don’t have any problem with other people eating meat and would have no problem if whoever I lived with wanted to have it in the house. I don’t even mind the smell of it cooking. I had a job as a cook where I had to stuff chickens and turkeys so that stopped any squemishness I might have had. I am obviously a terrible vegetarian.

  20. It’s really hard to date/cohabitate with someone who is insensitive to dietary needs. I am a vegan and I have a dairy allergy. Personally, I don’t believe in militant vegetarianism, but if I can be an example for (tasty) healthy eating, then that is what matters to me. The dairy thing can be a serious challenge when I insist upon having clean dishes and refrigerator space, or when someone accuses me of being incredibly picky. Some people just can’t accept different eating habits, and I try to avoid them or avoid talking about it. Having two separate sets of food isn’t a bad thing, either. My partner thinks Daiya tastes like plastic, so there’s no pleasing everyone. As much as I wish my ignorant roommate or wonderful partner would see the veggies at the end of the tunnel, I am not out to make their lives miserable for it. In that respect, I think they’re more likely to listen and make healthy changes if they don’t feel threatened.

    • Possibly talking with one hand about how people can’t be sensitive to dietary needs while with the other hand wishing the people around you would “see the light” and “make healthy changes” is part of the reason some people aren’t great at being tolerant of others’ needs?

      My best friend can’t eat: potatoes, soy, sugar (including honey), wheat and other grasses, peanuts, corn, eggs, and some other stuff I forget (I remember before I put it in stuff she’s going to eat though). I want to smack people who give her crap about eating a steak and a salad, or hell, a double down (hold the egg), because sometimes that’s all she can goddamned eat. What doesn’t look like a healthy choice to you might be someone else’s *only* option. If you want others to respect your dietary needs – and I agree people should – well, it begins at home, you know?

  21. Am I weird? but I would say dump your girlfriend.

    I am a pretty passionate vegan but found being militant doesn’t work and is annoying. I like to lead by example not rules. I am also pro-meat/pro-hunting if animals are kept/killed humanely.

    I guess I am weary of people with “strict” rules…cause humans are fallible. And those who are the strictest are usually doing inconsistent shit in other parts of their lives.

    • I used to get lectured about the environmental impact of eating meat by someone who drove two cars and took 1 – 2 international flights each year.

      I rode my bike and ate game meat (kangaroo), the inconsistency used to grate just a little ;)

      • Amusing. No one is perfect and it’s hard to not be hypocritical. But those who preach should be careful that their house is in order first. Or at least acknowledge that there can be inconsistencies in their position. I expect a preacher or (sadly) a Catholic priest to not have the intellect or capacity to admit/see inconsistencies. An educator though? You would think that they could talk to the bigger picture.

        Oh well.

        Viva (properly hunted) game meat! oh and for my vegan belly…VEGETABLES!

  22. I don’t live with my girlfriend but she’s veggo and I’m a I-don’t-care-either-way-o. I just go by one simple rule: I don’t eat meat around her. Maybe it’s because I’ll take any opportunity to kiss her* and I don’t want to be rejected (“You taste like meat, GTFO baby”) but yeah, I just figure it’s more respectful. She’s made this personal decision to not eat meat and I don’t care either way (if it’ll satiate my hunger with as little time/effort as poss, I’m all over it) so I have no problems being veggo around her.

    *who wouldn’t, lezbehonest.

  23. I’m a vegetarian but I ordered some potato skins from Chili’s last week knowing full well they had bacon on them. Yes, I did pick the bacon off, but mmmm I wanted that bacon flavor. (OK, I let some of the small bacon bits stay on.) I’m not the kind of vegetarian that cares about people eating meat. If meat bothers you, then you must get bothered a real lot. I think it’s pretty natural for humans to eat meat (I think it’s far less natural that we drink cow’s milk). I just happen to think it’s kinda gross. White meat grosses me out the most. I could probably eat a cheeseburger just fine, but I feel like eating only red meat is ridiculous, so I just cut out all meat.

  24. My best friend has been living at my place about six months. I’m vegan, he’s not. He doesn’t keep slabs of meat in my fridge, though when we get Indian or Thai, I think his stuff may have chicken in it….. It’s easier when it’s part of something else than when it’s something I have to face.

    He cooks vegan for me, I’ve taught him a lot about vegan junk food (chili cheese fries for the win), and it’s a general process of discovery.

    I think it’d be a little different if this were *our* place, rather than mine where he gets to crash…..

    I will say that every girl I’ve dated has either liked to cook vegan for kicks or actually gone vegan with me….I’ve never asked it, but it turns out that way and I’m rather okay with it. I don’t think I could live with a mega meat eater.

  25. PS – when he had his girlfriend visiting and wanted to cook for her, my rule on cooking meat was the same as my rule for sex:

    If I don’t have to see it or smell it, I don’t need to know it happened.

    …..And don’t use my good cutlery.

  26. If I dated a vegetarian or vegan that expected me to not eat meat…I would probably roll over and die.

    I’m allergic to gluten, tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, pineapple, coconut…and allergic/sensitive to a bunch of other thing as well (but those are some of the REALLY bad ones). Can’t tolerate much dairy, soy, corn, peanuts…etc.

    So goddamnit if I’m out at a restaurant I am damn well going to order that steak.

    I will gladly cook veg or vegan food for anybody, and I would probably moderate my diet to include a little less meat (although I actually don’t eat as much as you might expect) but if I gave it up I would never be able to eat anywhere and I wouldn’t get enough nutrition.

    So yeah, no preachiness at me allowed.

      • Yeah, this. A good solid number of veggies do terrible things to my stomach, I can’t eat anything that’s both green and raw, I can’t eat a lot of soy, or most beans, etc. Strangely, most white meats and dairy DONT hurt me. If turkey and potatoes didn’t exist I’d die of dietary boredom and possibly malnutrition.

  27. I know married couples, both straight and gay, in which one is vegetarian and one isn’t. The vegetarian one just doesn’t eat meat with their dinner.

    I myself don’t like most meat because I don’t like the taste of it. So, my partner will sometimes just eat a meat that she likes with her meal. It is unreasonable to expect someone to use separate cookware. You just wash it like normal.

    If someone cannot stand the idea of even the possibility of coming into contact with a molecule of meat–or coming into contact with something that’s come in contact with meat– that’s Carnophobia, not vegetarianism or veganism. You’re basically dealing with something akin to Mysophobia (fear of germs). It’s more like a condition than a preference.

    • Yeah, that was exactly my reaction. I can understand washing a knife because you just used it to cut steak and your veg gf wants to use it to cut a pepper – I mean, that’s a good idea regardless of anyone’s food preferences. But panicking that a clean knife has been used pre-washing to cut meat? That sounds like a phobia.

      Most vegetarian/vegan with omnivore couples I know are like the ones you describe. When they cook for each other, they just make sure the herbivore isn’t eating any meat. I don’t see why it has to be as complicated. Though I can kind of understand airing out the house if you’re cooking with meat and the other person can’t stand the scent of meat. That’s about it.

  28. I have no experience living in veg*/meat-eater situations, but I used to room with someone with crazy intense allergies, which led to similar (though slightly more life threatening) situations. One thing to keep in mind: there WILL be fuck-ups. The other person is not trying to be petty or passive, aggressive, they just don’t live in your head and sometimes forget.

    I loved my roommate more than convenient access to peanutbutter. So we put down ground rules, and kind of accepted that sometimes shit would get inconvenient for everyone. I’d go through crazy sanitation rituals (if consuming PB, do so outside the house, shower, change, brush your teeth and clean your finger nails before coming home- home is a safe space from PB)and she’d occasionally have to move out for a day or two if I fucked up and opened a box of PB cookies in the house.

    Basically, the idea was that I wasn’t trying to poison her, and she wasn’t trying to be a petty brat. And yes, both of us were inconvenienced by it. But we were up-front enough, and liked eachother enough that it worked.

  29. I’ve been a veg for five years and sometimes all I want is someone to drive me to Panda Express, get me a small order of orange chicken, sit in the car with me while I eat it and feel ashamed of myself, and go home and pretend it never happened.

    My girlfriend did that once. I regret nothing.

  30. I think that first part of the answer was the most important: talk about it in great detail!

    As the comments here show, “strict” vegetarian means different things to different people and not everyone is willing to make the same compromises. What is important is to find out what works (or doesn’t) for you guys.

    It’s scary when you care about someone a lot to put it all on the table, but be straight forward: is she really willing to accept dating an omnivore or is it going to be a bigger problem in the long run? If you don’t see yourself going veg you need to make sure she’s not hoping her love will gradually win you over. It may, but if she’s holding out for that and you’re not headed that way it’s better to get it all out now before there’s a shared lease and cat custody complicating things.

    If she is really okay with your meat eating ways, then discuss your needs on the points mentioned such as storing meat and having separate pans etc.

    Work together to find dishes you both love so it feels like you’re discovering new favorites together instead of just giving up things. My BFF is vegan and I have a lot of fun looking for new recipes to try. But personally, faux-meat creeps me out (what do you do to vegetables to make them look like beef?) but there are lots of delicious, filling foods that don’t use strange and expensive substitutes.

    With restaurants, call ahead! Try to call early so you aren’t distracting them from customers, but this way you can ask about what is available and make sure that those delicious tortilla chips aren’t cooked in pork fat before you sit down and realize your gal can’t eat anything but a manky pile of iceberg lettuce.

  31. I don’t think I could live with someone who believes I’m a murderer or a cruel person just because eat meat once in a while. Honestly, I don’t even like it that much, but I do think both the article and a lot of the comments were really one-sided. If a omnivore and a vegetarian want to live together, *both* have to make concessions.

    My family’s always been very conscious about the way we shop/eat, but it’s also ’cause we can *afford* it. The eggs we buy came from birds raised in open air/pasture. We try to buy as much organic/ethical/local foods as we can, and we mostly live off of fish (because red meat’s bad for your health, and white meat means the animal knew a slow and painful death).

    We try to buy from small farmers, because it means the animals were given more attention, more compassion and more care. I strongly believe one can eat animals with respect. Besides, plants do not want to die either: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/15/science/15food.html?

    • Also I don’t understand why we’re painted as crazy sociopaths who will “sneak meat into your plates”. I understand and respect your reasons for being vegetarians. I love all animals, and developed an unhealthy obsession with talking to my uncle’s goats around age 3. I love my cats more than anyone in the world, and have unconditional affection for all animals in general. Seeing animals suffer hurts me to my core.

      And yet I feel like people have this terrible image of omnivores, as if we were trying to “turn” you. We’re not. And is it okay then, for several people here to gloat about having turned people into vegetarians? You’re convinced of your moral superiority, and that’s fine.

      But a lot of people don’t have the financial means to live a healthy life while cutting back on meat (or better yet, all animal-based products). Some people live in very rural areas with little shopping choice, others have extremely limited budgets.

      I read an NYT article the other day about how the exploding quinoa consumption is making Bolivians poorer and poorer, depriving them of their most basic nutritional source. Eating consciously is much more complicated than just not eating meat. And it requires acceptance that the world isn’t black and white.

      (*I meant to write “aN omnivore”, of course)

      • It’s unfair to generalize, but the generalizations do come from somewhere. Nearly everytime I’ve been in a group with vegetarians where everyone wasn’t already friends, someone keeps telling the veggies how delicious meat is and how they probably have bacon fat in their favorite whatever and that’s why it’s so good they just don’t know it etc. My BFFs family continues to give her leather gloves for Christmas and try to insist she try the roast even though she’s not eaten meat in 12 years.

        It’s not right to make the assumption that all or even most omnivores are like that, but those people do exist.

        But I think you are right, that compromise has to come from both sides. If someone can’t stand even being in the same room as a meat dish, date a vegetarian.

        But I find that most the compromise comes from the omnivore because they are more willing and able. Which is pretty understandable because for a vegetarian meat is often a moral issue and they feel very passionately about it. A meat eater may passionately enjoy their meat and find no moral fault in it, but most of us don’t view eating meat as a moral obligation. So it’s a little easier to adapt what is more a habit or preference.

        As for that NYT article (on plants, not quinoa), I can’t take anyone seriously (no matter what big name PhD they have) who makes a casual comparison between eating plants and genocide.

      • If you live in a more conservative area of the country where vegetarianism/veganism is not as common, there are a lot of dickish omnivores who do try to “turn” vegetarians. I live in Baltimore now, but I’m a native of Michigan, aka Guns ‘n’ Hunting Land. I lived near Detroit, so it wasn’t as bad as some other parts of the state, but we still had at least a third of the class call in sick for the first day of deer hunting season. I remember many a “debate” about vegetarianism where someone’s admission that they don’t eat meat would be met with lots of snide comments about the tastiness of some meat-eater’s recent meal. I still see Facebook debates where a vegan friend who has posted a link on, say, the bad things about lobster fishing practices, gets multiple comments about how delicious lobster tastes with butter.

        I’m an omnivore, so I’m not trying to slam omnivores here. I’m just trying to say that there are plenty who are assholes to vegetarians and vegans, just as there are vegans/vegetarians who can take a holier-than-thou attitude toward omnivores. It doesn’t mean that everyone in either group is a jerk, but just like us omnivores can think of particular vegetarians/vegans who might sour our image of the whole group, they have examples they can turn to of omnivores like that as well.

        That being said, I did think this article was really one-sided, and some of the advice given was rather excessive.

        • And even w/r/t Baltimore, I imagine it isn’t fun to live in a city known for its great crabs and rockfish if you don’t eat seafood. I remember when I first moved here, and I was still very squeamish about some seafood, I felt really left-out by how many gatherings were centered around trying different types of crabs or whatever. It must suck even more if you’re a vegetarian (I know it sucks for my sister, who is allergic to shellfish), dealing with all that pressure.

        • I agree with that last line 100%. In addition – the puppy in the fridge…REALLY? I find that highly insulting! I felt like I was trying to be guilted into vegetarianism because “look at that cute face and think about the cute faces on the cow/chicken/pig you eat”. I don’t make vegetarians feel guilty about being vegetarians so I don’t appreciate being made to feel guilty about being an omnivore.

          • I saw that picture as a joke but, yeah, I totally get what you’re saying. I think way too much of that article is putting all the blame on omnivores – and not on the particular subgroup of vegetarians/vegans who have such unreasonable preferences as needing a separate set of silverware, or acting like their omnivorous gf should pretend to be a vegetarian/vegan when they’re around.

            If I’m not forcing you to be something you’re not, then you shouldn’t expect I’ll let you do the same.

      • Also, I think the fact that not everyone can afford to eat vegetarian/vegan is really important. I lost lots of “karma” points on AfterEllen for pointing it out to someone who kept making privileged comments about how, wait, the vegan restaurant in their neigborhood was REALLY CHEAP, don’t you know? But it’s much more complicated than that. If you live in a food desert, there are no “really cheap” vegan places – if there are any at all. You basically have no choice but to eat animal products. So thanks for pointing it out – I hate people who assume that these choices are possibilities for everyone. That goes for any kind of diet or responsible eating, not just vegetarianism/veganism, so that’s why I don’t look down on anyone for their dietary choices – even though I try, when I can, to make sure that the food (meat or otherwise) was produced/grown humanely and responsibly.

    • Jeezus Christ — this thread surprises me! I didn’t know so many veggies were unwilling to live/love omnivores. I guess all my girlfriends have been serious foodie types who get frustrated w/me for not being a more adventorous meat-eater and wanting tofu in everything.

      I eat mostly vegetarian. I get food poisioning easily and will only eat meat if someone else is cooking or it’s a nice restaruant (like i don’t get meat-dishes from chinese delivery), i always cook with tofu. I love meat substitutes. A lot.

      The only meat I really eat is grilled chicken and cheeseburgers, I don’t really LIKE meat that tastes too… meaty?

      HOWEVER seriously I don’t eat pork or turkey or steak and I’ve literally had people try to stuff pork chops into my mouth on more than one occasion, like it’s a hilarious joke to them. One side of my family has always been farmers. I think they think I’m a vegetarian because I never eat the large slabs of ham or the carved turkey.

      Anyhow I think ppl shouldn’t be so judgey and preachy about being vegetarian or vegan. I respect and admire your choice, and I don’t ask you to respect/admire my choice, but I do expect you to not openly condemn my choice.

      (as for the one-sided-ness, i think the thing here is that “omnivore” is the norm. it’s what most of us grew up around and live with. because the vegetarian is the one doing something DIFFERENT that you might not know about or be used to based on the rest of the world which mostly eats meat, then yes, it is the omnivore who needs to learn how to live with the vegetarian. The vegetarian already knows how to live with an omnivore and what to expect, they’ve likely been doing it all their lives. As for making special concessions like using different dishes, I think that’s a thing you might do for a girlfriend you love b/c we all go crazy out of our way for people we love, but I don’t think anyone would be expected to do it for their buddy.)

  32. I’m a vegetarian and I have cohabited successfully, many times, with people whose eating choices vary. Basically I’ve found that as long as we’re all respectful of each other and each others decisions then there is no problem.
    One thing I’ve noticed is that it can be really important for people to eat together, so even if you cook separately you should sit down and eat at one time.

  33. I’m not a vegetarian but I rarely eat meat because I just don’t like it that much. I think if I was going out with a girl who was vegetarian she would have to respect that I won’t eat lots of meat around you and I won’t make you eat it, but I don’t want to get bitched at if I mention I went to burger king or I put a tiny bit of bacon into carbonara.

    I have a fairly close friend who is vegetarian (would like to be vegan) and I find her really annoying about it a lot of the time because if you do anything she doesn’t like theres a face on her. You can’t expect everyone else to respect your beliefs if you don’t respect theirs.

  34. I feel like most of these comments have a theme. I feel like that theme is doing your best to be respectful/notajerkface. I feel like this would make a good theme for life in general. Don’t you?

  35. Really, I think the most I should have to do to respect someone who won’t eat meat is not to make you, accept the fact that you won’t cook meat for me, and incorporate restaurants with more options you into our dining out. All the other stuff about hiding meat in the fridge so you won’t have to bear looking looking at it, separate pans and bleaching the kitchen would just make me feel like I was being shamed.

    • Yeah, I generally like to think I’m a respectful omnivore, since as I explained above I grew up in an area with lots of disrespectful ones who were dickheads to the vegetarians and vegans we knew. And if I’m dating a vegetarian, I’ll make sure to accommodate her/him in what we’re eating, whether it’s a meal I make or a restaurant we’re going to. Just like when I went out for my birthday to a place where we’d be eating mussels, I made sure my friend who is a vegetarian had something he could eat.

      But yeah, I eat lots of meat (like, I’m the type to order the “meat lovers” pizza at a pizza place) and all this stuff about needing to hide that part of me in case it wigs them out just sounds excessive. I actually really respect and admire vegetarians, but I think that respect needs to run both ways. If you’re demanding two separate sets of silverware because even washing a knife I used to cut steak isn’t enough for you? If you’re demanding all the meat I eat be hidden far, far away so you don’t have to see it? Yeah, you’re not being respectful.

    • Isn’t it/Can’t it be more of a ‘I’m a weirdo/totally cute, and don’t like to see raw chicken” than a judgement? I don’t like morel mushrooms and wouldn’t want to see them cause they freak me out…i’ve “hidden” seitan before cause it weirded someone out.

      The silverware thing seems like over kill to me (a veg) cause it’s been cleaned right? And maybe I am just thrifty but my silverware/dishes are always secondhand so they probably touched all kinds of meaty stuff before I owned them. PLUS, being a germ freak, I assume if washing them kills germs it would also clean meat/morel mushroom residue?

      :)

      • “Isn’t it/Can’t it be more of a ‘I’m a weirdo/totally cute, and don’t like to see raw chicken” than a judgement?”

        Well, is it just quirky or is it a judgement? Is she playing it cute so I’ll go along but it’s actually a big deal? If I forget to hide the chicken or not fry a steak in her tofu pan and she found out while she was eating her tofu is she going to flip? I mean, if her honest feeling is that she would flip out I think it’s best I be prepared for that. It may stop me from being offended if I think she’s just being weird but it might also make me less likely to get another pan to fry my eggs in if her pan is already right there on the stove.

        I have my quirks too, but there are varying degrees to which I give an actual shit. And when I ask someone to take something seriously about me I drive the point home with how serious I’m going to take it because I don’t think it’s fair to flip on people unless they could have seen that coming. If there is a chance you’re going to take it personally and get upset if I don’t do something, I need to see that coming.

        • I would definitely flip if the pan thing was broken, since I have invested in two (and only two) nice pans for my needs.

          And it would be VERY disrespectful to fry a steak/morel mushroom/whatever in a pan someone asked you not to.

  36. Hi,

    I’ve done this, and basically: it will be a tough life.

    I consider myself a mostly-ethical carnivore – my rules are:

    * only buy the good stuff
    * if you’re gonna kill something / have something killed to eat it, cook it respectfully/well
    * do not waste anything that would be more than a minor flesh wound
    * ie: eat leftovers too. and offal. and make stock with the bones. understand food. become a cook.
    * occasionally kill something, gut it and eat it, so you know what you’re doing – even trout.

    …but in my 20s I lived with a vegetarian who’d have been vegan except she loved milk chocolate too much.

    Lots of processed soya, lots of beans from cans, lots of stuff which frankly made me fat. We broke up after 7 years and I lost 15lb, not just from the usual reasons of lack-of-domesticity.

    Really, I would consider this carefully – it _will_ get in the way; travelling outside your local area will become a nightmare as you’ll have to reject eating anywhere that lacks veggie options, which (unless you are in certain parts of the western world)

    Curiously I eat hardly any meat in my home diet nowadays, but that’s because of the above rules – every so often I’ll get a chicken and roast it, or a huge steak to have rare, plus I keep chorizo around – but I can eat anything out at restaurants, and don’t need to check canned goods, cookies and candies for butter, gelatine or dozens of other niggles that I’m happy to eat but my partner then would not touch.

    I remember being in Spain and ordering “paella” – it was a coastal area and the fish dishes were really good – but the look of the prawns/langoustines on the plate gave her weird visions of eyeballs on stalks between my teeth, and she was icky and freaked-out about it for weeks.

    And if she’s the near-vegan sort of veggie she will probably hate you for having meat in the fridge in any form; the sheer hassle of cleaning up after cooking raw meat made life untenable, so I got reduced and coersced into living on salami and cold cuts. It’s not a replacement for what you want. The kosher-style stuff about having two sets of pans/cutlery is no way to live as a couple when it’s only _you_ who needs them.

    And the smell of bacon is is a recipe for war.

    So realise it’s not just about eating meat – you will be pushed to check everything you collectively buy for any form of animal product. Go through your cupboards and pile up anything with the words “animal fats” or “gelatine” or “lard” – and if she’s a veggie also pile up “eggs”, “milk”, “lactose” “butter”.

    See if you’re happy to live without the result. If so, go veggie for a while yourself.

    If not, consider carefully your level of commitment, and also whether she’s the sort who will consider you unclean for eating steak at a restaurant, or if she’ll accept that cheerfully.

    Then decide if she’s worth it.

    • ps: the Family thing above is also an issue – visiting your non-veggie relations may lead to embarrassment like your pet veggie going through the trash to determine whether the spread on the table is edible for her.

      Think very carefully.

    • pps: two typos in the above – apologies.

      1) you’ll have to reject eating anywhere that lacks veggie options, *which is pretty common* (unless you are in certain parts of the western world)

      2) and if she’s a *vegan* also pile up “eggs”, “milk”, “lactose” “butter”

      • It’s a fair objection, and I am not forcing you or anyone else to kill animals of any kind.

        Quite the opposite.

        It just is my belief that butchery and eating meat is the business of death, and it’s not _necessary_ so much as insightful to have done it yourself. It provides me a clear perspective on “yes, it’s pretty gross, but necessary to kill something if you will eat meat”.

        Those who cannot – fine, I have no problem with that. I have on occasions heard them called hypocrites by militant veggies, and that’s one accusation that at least I don’t have to wear. I don’t agree with it because I accept your perspective, but our perspective is not at issue here.

  37. maybe this sounds SILLY, but i have always liked/prefered dating girls who were somewhere on the vegetarian/vegan spectrum…?
    im just drawn to them, i dont know
    im not saying it would be a dealbreaker of course
    i just enjoy cooking veggie meals with/feeding them to girls who dont wish it was bacon instead…. :(

  38. p.s. why are SO MANY gay ladies some kind of of vegetarian?? seriously. feel like its a lot more than the normal populace…? is it honestly something to do with the whole “veggie girls taste better” thing?
    p.p.s. i was cooking breakfast for a lady friend last week, and she is definetly a meat eater. in a fit of post-sex happiness i offered to cook her bacon along with her crepes. then freaked out and realized i was compramising my morals(was i?) and also didnt know how to cook bacon……. (thank goodness a gay boy burst through the door and saved me by cooking her bacon!)

    • Nope, you don’t. I like to think I am socially-conscious despite the fact that I eat meat; for one, I almost always pick a place that uses meat where the animals were treated humanely over one that doesn’t if I have the option. Also, even if I’m not veg I care about a lot of other political and social issues.

      What I meant with my socially-conscious explanation is that lesbians tend to be more into different liberal social causes in general – and that’s why so many lesbians are vegetarians/vegans, but also why many are really into being eco-friendly or using fair-trade everything or other issues. It’s just one example that happened to be the relevant one here.

      I think the exception would be ones that apply more to other populations than lesbians. For example, the pro-choice movement. Just about every lesbian I know is pro-choice, but from what I’ve seen they don’t tend to be as active in the movement as straight and bi girls since girls who have sex with men probably feel they have more of a stake in the legality of abortion.

  39. I am a vegan for ethical reasons. I don’t see a problem with eating animals. The problem I have is with the way that they are treated. Someone posted a trailer for Earthlings about a hundred comments ago and I was purely disgusted by it. There is no need to be that cruel to any animal for the sake of human consumption. Absolutely none.

    As far as living with a omnivore girlfriend or anybody really, as long as they don’t try to force anything animal down my throat, I’ll be okay with it. I’m not the type of person who will try to convince someone to go vegetarian or vegan unless they want to. At that point there isn’t really much convincing left to do.

  40. This thread comes at a really good time for me. I’ve been back and forth over becoming veg* for a couple months now. At first it was only for health reasons, but as I’ve dug deeper into recipes and education it’s become about much more. During my transition period from being an omnivore I’ve made sure any non-veggie choices have been responsible ones. Local, organic, free-trade, free-range, etc etc. But that’s just me.
    I would never judge anyone on their dietary choices or try to force them to change (or make them buy different pots!), because different things work for different people and that’s hardly my place. I would, however, try to educate them on why my food choices work for me and be open to them doing the same.
    Hell, I love a good slab of steak as much as the next guy.. but things change.
    Communication and respect are the key to a successful relationship anyway, so why would it be any different regarding dietary choices?

  41. I think it’s important to remember that if you’re moving in together, the home that you share belongs to *both* of you. In other words: it’s not just the omnivore’s responsibility to keep her meaty foods out of the way of the vegetarian; it’s also the vegetarian’s responsibility to respect the fact that her girlfriend eats meat sometimes, and this is her house too. I say this as an ex-vegetarian who cannot abide being given sh*t by vegetarians/vegans who argue that my decision to eat locally-sourced meat in moderation is somehow shameful.

  42. Am I the only vegetarian who’s not crazy strict/political/all that? I was raised veggie, but I could give a fuck about pans/utensils being used with both meat and tofu (provided they’ve been cleaned off). Basically, I don’t care what other people eat as long as they aren’t dicks about it.

    • I think that’s something that’s missing from this discussion – people are veg*n for all kinds of reasons. Yep, for some people it’s an ethical thing, but for some people it’s a health thing or an I-just-don’t-like-meat thing.

  43. I am surprised by all the defensive comments on both side here! I am veg and have been vegan and have never had a problem with my meat-eating roommates. And they have never had a problem with me.

    I don’t think it’s unreasonable or offensive at all to have separate pots and pans. Separate dishes strike me as odd, I mean, like if they are clean, they are clean, but who cares if someone wants separate dishes?

    I totally hate a stuffy kitchen, especially if it a food I don’t eat, and I cook very smelly vegan food so I think air flow is just a positive thing in general!

    Also, if I am going to a home-cooked function (like a baby shower, dinner at the parents) I truly, truly do not care if there is food I can eat. Usually there is something, but I totally respect my friends to cook what they want and I do not expect anyone to accommodate me. If the dinner is for me, or my parents for example, then cool, meat sauce for you, red sauce for me. No red sauce? Cool, got olive oil?

    If dining out, then I do like to go somewhere I can have more than a salad, but again, my friends and I have never had an issue- except when fast food is the only option, but hey, life happens.

    Not that anyone is reading this much, but I do tend to date only veg ladies or veg friendly ladies because this is a lifestyle I want to maintain. Again, I’ve never had a conflict with this either.

    Peace, Love, and (Fake) Sausage grease :)

  44. I’ve been vegetarian for 14 years and vegan for 3, but my wife is an omnivore. we make it work by always cooking vegan together. I’m very fortunate that she loves vegan food and I know she’s grateful that I don’t get all self-righteous when she does occasionally eat a burger or sashimi when we eat out together.

    The key is DEFINITELY defining and discussing your boundaries early on. She knows that if she eats meat, she should brush her teeth before we make out and wash her dishes REALLY FUCKING THOROUGHLY before I have to deal with them. And in the end, her only undeniable animal-based vice is cheese, so she’ll just grate cheese onto vegan pasta and we’re both happy.

    It took a while for her mom to understand all the ins and outs of my veganism since she grew up as a rural Quebecois farm-girl, but my partner was always very certain to check and reaffirm my diet with her mother to avoid me having to awkwardly and accidentally offend her or myself due to misunderstandings. And at this point, her mom actually made us our vegan wedding cake, so all is well and delightful!

  45. Some of the restrictions sound similar to those relating to keeping kosher or halal (esp the separate pots & pans thing) or to health issues for food (when my dad was really ill some time ago he needed separate cutlery & crockery because there was too much risk of the general set having enough germs to whack him out).

    Those of you who are or have lived with people with similar issues: how have you coped?

  46. Vegan Fire & Spice. Make anything in that book and your significant other won’t realize they’re eating veg anyway. I cook a lot of Indian and Thai and no one I date raises an eyelash.

    • There’s a problem with that – it’s not that I hate eating veg, quite the opposite I enjoyed many and more varied veg than my ex partner.

      But I also love eating meat. Steak. Pork. Bacon. Chicken. Lamb. Squid. Fish. … so many possibilities.

  47. My family comes from middle of nowhere, Indiana (Kokomo, to be specific), and even though my parents now live in middle of nowhere, Michigan (so, slightly better) and that’s where I grew up, eating and meals are serious bonding during holidays and things of the like, so I’ve always been used to eating meat. My partner, on the other hand, is a vegan and was a long-time vegetarian before that. To compromise, I keep vegan cheese/other eating things at my place for her, and she keeps canned Coke (she’s not a big soda drinker) at her house for me. I’m not sure what would happen if we shared a house, though.

  48. I have found this to be a very interesting read. I was raised on a farm. My current gf has told me she used to be a vegetarian and would’ve gone vegan if it weren’t for cheese. (She’s a Wisconsinite.) We have had many many discussions concerning eating habits. She has a vegan cookbook and swears I’ll love it. Here’s my kicker. I have alot of allergies. I am allergic to all nuts. I cannot digest beans if I eat them for more than 3 days. If I eat too many veggies I get severe bathroom issues. So regardless of taste I would literally waste away, dehydrate and die if I were to become a vegetarian let alone a vegan.
    But the education I received here is fabulous. I have been one of the jokers. Although I would never even consider slipping meat into someone’s food. (Even being a taster on behalf of my vegan buddy because he thought a restaurant put fish in his food. They did.) I’ve made fun of my vegan buddy with various jokes. So I won’t do that again.
    We recently invited a couple over for dinner that are vegans. (I was so surprised by the whole separate cutlery/cookery because my friends didn’t say anything when I invited them over. The dinner is set for next Saturday.) It was my intention to cook up and eat a steak alone before they came over. That way I wouldn’t be sick and they wouldn’t have to watch me eat meat. But it did not occur to me that the scent would remain in the air. So I guess I’ll have to eat out before hosting a dinner in my home. :)
    I am willing to do this for friends for a night but I could never live that way. I get most of my meat from my parents. Because I know the animal lived and died humanely. The remainder I get from a Whole Foods type of store. I’ve no shame in not starving to death. And due to this discussion I’ll be a bit more sensitive about others making choices I cannot.

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