Before my fiancé William, I dated a vegan from Lebanon who worked as a professor in DC. When he cooked for me, it was like dining at the Garden of Eve. Everything had the freshness of lemon and the aftertaste of herbs. However, we began fighting, because I wasn't vegan.
"We can't even eat at the same restaurants together," he said.
The relationship ended in our Match.com profiles being reactivated. To him, diet was all or nothing; for me, I was ready to learn but not commit to a vegan lifestyle.
This is the case for many omnivore relationships. And it's a shame, because love should conquer all even if you eat queso fresco, and she eats vegan queso fresco. There has to be a way to meet in the middle, but how?
Sarah Eastin is a local vegan coach and consultant. I reached out to her last winter to teach a vegan charcuterie class. As we were girl chatting, I told her about my fears on broaching vegan meals (with William being a meat feaster). How could I make it work? I didn't want to lose another relationship to diet combat.
Sarah just listened and said, "it's ok."
I took a breath of relief.
"Ryan is a total meat and potatoes guy, and I'm a vegan. It's ok."
"WHAT?!" I replied into the phone.
Sarah and Ryan met at work years ago. It wasn't can't-eat-, can't-sleep kind of love in the beginning. They were friends at first, and slowly they built into more than friends, and then realized somewhere along the way, they loved each other. While Sarah at the time was a vegetarian that only ate cheese and eggs on occasion. Ryan was/is a Mid West Mountain Man that never ate vegetables. On top of that, he likes bland food, while Sarah craves flavor and diversity in her diet.
Today, they are still together, going strong, and continuing to learn about each other as friends and companions. So, how do they do the impossible? How do they make it work?
Here are Sarah's tricks and tips to surviving and thriving in a multivore relationship.
1) EASE INTO IT. Encourage your partner as they are trying vegan meals that their gut flora will adapt. (Often, vegan diets mess with stomachs in the beginning; bloating, digestion, and gas can happen.)
2) START SIMPLE. Start with dishes that they LOVE already. For example: tacos. Replace the meat with Vejje Beef. Another example is if they're a breakfast bacon fanatic, replace the bacon with Hemp Breakfast Sausage. Veganize their favorite dishes not their life.
3) DATE NIGHT RESEARCH. Call ahead to restaurants so you can still enjoy romantic meals with your significant other. Most restaurants will have vegan options, and if not, ask them if the Chef can prepare something that is vegan.
4) LEARN YOUR FOOD SCIENCE. When introducing vegan options, stick with sauces and spices in the Umami group--which stimulates the brain the way that comfort foods do to help you feel satiated. Examples of this are ketchup, soy sauce, olive oil, etc.
5) CHEESE IS HEROIN. Cheese contains casomorphins. Basically, dairy has protein that has opiate molecules built in. How does one compete with that in trying to introduce cheese alternatives like Peaceful Rebel? The secret weapon is acidity. Acidity releases dopamine the same way that cheese does. Increase things like Nooch Popcorn by NU Foods which contains nutritional yeast. Also increase things with citrus, salt and high fat like homemade guacamole.
6) MEET THEM WHERE THEY ARE. Diets are so personal and can be emotional. Meet your significant other where they're at with their diet vs where you want them to be. Don't push them one way or another; encourage them without shame.
7) DON'T EMOTIONALLY INVEST. Protect your relationship, and yourself, by not emotionally investing in an outcome. Celebrate the small wins as they will then feel like big wins. (Like Ryan, who now eats vegetables and enjoys them thanks to Sarah's cooking, patience, and compassion.)
Follow Sarah on Instagram ( @saraheastin ) to get updates on her coaching, more tricks and tips, and class schedules.
~Hannah King, Owner
ABC Provisions: feel good about what you're eating.