3 min

The carnivore versus the herbivore

Avoiding 'beef' with your vegan partner

There's no need to fight about dietary differences. Credit: thinkstock

It’s a struggle that dates back to the time of the dinosaurs — there are the meat-eating carnivores and the mild-mannered herbivores. Herbivores acted as environment control, and carnivores acted as population control (and the omnivore did everything in between).

While the hierarchy of the food chain means herbivores might have got the short end of the stick, the balance in the world we know today was formed because both had to coexist. Now, skip ahead millions of years to the present day, where carnivores and the herbivores (now called vegans) still coexist. The key difference is that we are now often romantically involved with one another.

Here are a few tips on how the two of you can coexist in the same space, allowing you to eat your bloody steak and your partner to eat his or her veggie platter in peace. Or vice versa. After all, if the dinosaurs (save a few throat eviscerations in the name of dinner) could live with each other, why can’t we?

1) Respect his choice

This goes both ways. Don’t call him a meat-eating animal murderer; don’t call her a tree-hugging hippie. Your partner didn’t slaughter the cow any more than you liberated it. Listen and understand each other so you can respect each other’s lifestyles. If you’re the carnivore, educate yourself about vegan-friendly alternatives to certain foods. Veganism is a much stricter diet than vegetarianism, so make yourself aware so you don’t accidentally serve something you shouldn’t; this includes dairy-based liqueurs such as Baileys. If you’re the vegan, make sure you have your dietary facts straight to help your carnivorous counterpart understand that you’re getting all your daily vitamins and proteins and that you’re just as healthy as they are. Chances are, questions like this are simply their way of being concerned for your health and well-being, which you should take as a compliment.

2) Compromise

Just because your partner doesn’t eat any animal-based products doesn’t mean you can’t. You have as much right to barbecue yourself a roasted chicken breast as they do an eggplant burger, as long as you both set common grounds. Conspire together to create meals the both of you can enjoy. For example, if you’re making spaghetti Bolognese, cook the ground beef and tomato sauce separately and add the base sauce to the meat-cooking pan. That way the same meal can be prepared for the two of you and nobody is left out of dinner plans.

3) Set some ground rules

Compromise is important, but so is respecting each other’s personal boundaries. Perhaps your partner’s veganism is in part due to an allergy to red meat, chicken, eggs or some other animal byproduct, or maybe they just had a bad food-poisoning experience once and now the smell of ground beef causes them to run, heaving, into the bathroom. If either’s the case, it might be wise to hold off on some of your meatier food concoctions until he’s out of town for the weekend. On the flip side, maybe the texture of your partner’s healthy tofu causes your taste buds to spiral into a deep, personal hell. Again, communication is key in cases like this and varies from couple to couple, as does how strict a vegan your partner is. For example, some vegans won’t kiss a meat eater until she has thoroughly brushed her teeth, and some meat lovers will wait until every last drip of mushroom sauce is scraped from his vegan partner’s tongue. Additionally, when it comes to cookware, decide whether a simple soap-and-water scrub will appropriately clean a frying pan or crockpot of meat residuals or if your partner desires designated cookware to keep your meats and veggies permanently separated.

4) It’s not always about food!

Many soaps, skin products, makeups, detergents, shampoos and household cleaners may contain animal products. This step should come relatively easy, as you’re (hopefully) not eating cleaning products, and many companies offer animal-free alternatives. (For example, all Lush cosmetics are vegan-friendly and the company offers soaps, shampoos, conditioners, shaving creams, lip balms, perfumes and a makeup line.) Be sure to read labels to help keep your house an animal-friendly house. Also, if money is an issue, the internet is your greatest weapon, and friend, for finding inexpensive household alternatives that will keep your place clean. This usually revolves around an interchanging holy trinity of vinegar, baking soda and water.

In short, keep an open mind and a level head. Be sure to listen and compromise, and soon, cohabitating with your dietary opposite will become second nature. After all, at the end of the day, the only meat that should come between you and your partner is your own.