Sharing a romantic meal is the ultimate lovey-dovey act, but what if the guy you’re dating and planning to live with is a meat eater and you are a vegetarian or vice versa? Don’t let diet plans put a strain on your romantic relationship, because all couples, whether it’s religion or culture, share differences, and if a carnivore and a vegan choose to live together, tolerance and a lot of compromise are absolutely essential at the dinner table. “Food has a strong subconscious link to love,” Kathryn Zerbe, a psychiatrist who specializes in eating disorders at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland told The New York Times, “that is why refusing a partner’s food “can feel like rejection,” she said.
Yes, you can still sit down together for a candle-lit meal, stare into each other’s eyes, sip that wine, but with a slight variation on the plates in front of you. For successful cohabitation, no one diet plan wins out over the other, you can absolutely have it both ways in the kitchen. So how do you cook to please yourself and your loved one? It might not always easy but almost any recipe can be bifurcated along the way.
In the book The Adaptable Feast: Satisfying Meals for the Vegetarians, Vegans, and Omnivores at Your Table, by Ivy Manning (Sasquatch Books, 2009), the author’s suggestion for two opposing diet plans is to use the “fork in the road” method for recipes. This means that a good majority of the recipe will be the same for the carnivore and the vegan. But somewhere along the way Manning will fork it and stuff tofu in half the portion of steamed buns, for example, and pork in the others. So if your hunky vegan is cooking a vegetarian linguini or a mushroom risotto, keep different meats frozen and just pop them into whatever he’s making. Shrimp, pancetta and chicken are simple this way, and you can pre-dice your meats so that you can just quickly add what type of meat you prefer to what your vegan is cooking that day.
It’s also important not to be too extreme in your food lifestyle choices and respect your partner’s taste. For Ryan Wallace, a meat lover who grew up in the South, moved to California and married an easy-going vegetarian, who, has helped to change his diet considerably so that he is now eating less meat and loving tofu. In a helpful essay he wrote for Yahoo about his relationship, Wallace gave vegetarians living with carnivores some sound advice: “I encourage you to be flexible when setting the rules. If you turn into a meat Nazi, your partner is going to be less flexible when it comes to acclimating to a life with less meat in it.”
The musician Moby, who is vegan, told the “Diner’s Journal” column at the Times in 2012, that he believes things today are not what it used to be between the two opposing camps and that relations, and vegan restaurants, have improved greatly. “If we go back 25 years, there was a lot more intolerance in the vegan world […]. There was a lot more militant us-and-them approach. When it comes to keeping their diet plan, vegans are perfectly happy now, for the most part, to hang out with people who don’t agree with them 100 percent. And maybe one or two nights a week, carnivores seem pretty happy to go to a vegetarian restaurant.” So now that we see that there can be peace and love between a meat lover and a meat hater, check out more of Ivy Manning’s recipes for meat-filled and meat-free dishes like Spaghetti Carbonara or Empanadas, and share a hearty meal with your loved one tonight.