Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian?
So, I am seeing a gentleman who is a vegetarian. I am not. Most definitely not. Is there anyone on this board (or anyone you may know) who is a non-vegetarian married to/dating a vegetarian or are a vegetarian themselves who is with a non-vegetarian? How exactly do you make meals work? If you have children, are they vegetarian or no? I am just curious, but I am interested to see how others make it work?
My impression is that meals at home tend to go one of two ways - either they are vegetarian, or they are something where the meat is easily separable, like having a vegetarian pasta, salad, and a grilled chicken breast on the side, or making two pizzas, one with meat and one without. Logistically, cooking two parallel meals regularly is a lot of work, so things like chili, stews, or soups, and so on tend to show up in vegetarian form.
My other observation is that it depends a lot on who does the cooking (meals will tend to drift to their style), how happy the vegetarian is to cook meat, and how happy the omnivore is to eat vegetarian cuisine. A relationship between a vegetarian who doesn't object to other people eating or preparing meat in front of them, and an omnivore who is happy to eat a lot of vegetarian dishes can work pretty well. A relationship between someone who won't cook meat, doesn't like to see people eat meat, and doesn't want to be near it when it's being prepared, and someone who needs meat at every meal and dislikes typical vegetarian cuisine is going to be problematic.
As far as kids go, I think they tend to get the most inclusive version of the diet, because explaining that Mommy gets to eat meat (or fish, or eggs) and they don't isn't going to work very well.
I think it really depends on the people; their personalities, their reasons for being vegetarian (or not), etc.., but I think that yes, it can work, and it does work for many people. There are some great threads about this elsewhere too -- try searching on ask.metafilter.com.
I am more or less vegan (eat eggs at home now; more detail on my story at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/706831), engaged to a non-vegetarian. She likes vegetables and we generally eat vegetarian at home (she doesn't really like cooking meat anyway), but definitely gets cranky if she doesn't have some meat once in a while. She will sometimes put cheese or yogurt or whatever on top of her own food, or will eat prepared meat / fish or leftovers in the house. When we cook for her folks, she'll sometimes cook a fish or meat dish (her folks are also really great about making tons of vegetarian food for me when we're over there). We both like food a lot, enjoy cooking, and we both like a lot of similar kinds of food, so I think that helps -- do what you can to find common ground, and emphasize the areas where there's some overlap. If one person is doing all the cooking, obviously that person may get to call the shots a little more in terms of how things work.
As far as cooking meat at home; I think the way to do it would be to cook a stand-alone meat dish as well as some vegetarian sides, or to make a one-pot dish where the meat can be cooked separately and added later. You might also check out "The Flexitarian Table" - I don't own it, but have thumbed through it a time or two, and I think it might have some useful suggestions. I do know of a few vegetarians who will cook meat for their partner / spouse or family, but I think that most vegetarians would probably not be super comfortable cooking meat or fish most of the time.
Now in terms of eating out at restaurants, I would probably prefer to eat at veg*n restaurants much of the time, whereas there are plenty of restaurants she'd like to eat at that have few (or no) options for me. So most of the time, we try to settle on a place that can accommodate us both. Yes, this includes me sometimes paying for meals that include meat. Sometimes when we travel, we'll go to one place for her and then another place for me.
Hopefully, you try to understand / respect his ethical views, and be patient about some of the inconveniences that are involved, and he tries not to act as if you're a horrible, animal-killing monster, pays for your meals that include meat, doesn't make you brush your teeth before he'll kiss you after eating a big steak, etc. etc.. For me, a lot of it has been about not thinking in black and white quite as much, which really, I think has benefitted me quite a bit.
We don't have any kids, but what we would feed them if we did has certainly been a topic that's come up from time to time.
My sister is vegetarian, and her partner of 7-8 years is not, though he doesn't eat red meat or pork, and eats vegetarian at home, and a good percentage of the time when they're out as well. Her partner (who's the non-vegetarian) cooks only vegetarian meals at home. They have a daughter, and I think their intention is to raise her mostly vegetarian, though I don't think they are going to be really strict about it -- it's possible that she'll eat some of what her dad eats too.
While I was apprehensive about being with an (unapologetic) meat eater at first, I can honestly say that I think it's overall been a really positive experience in a lot of ways.
I've dated meat eaters, I think the most important aspects are that neither party is a bully about their beliefs (I once knew a vegetarian who flat out forbid her boyfriend to eat meat...anywhere)...plus I think its less likely to be a problem if both are adventurous eaters, i.e. if one will only eat meat and potato and dislikes pretty much everything else....that might be a problem (unless of course you don't ever eat together).
For me, I'm pretty lax on stuff, most of my family eats meat, as have some visitors to my home, I have cooked it from time to time (this is very rare) for people I care about. I don't see it as my job to recruit people. I guess it'd have to depend on how strongly people feel about things, like anything else in life. It would become a problem if people do not see eye-to-eye on ANY aspect of child rearing, food choices included.
BTW, as an adult child of a family of meat eaters, along with a couple more scattered throughout the family, group family dinners have never been a problem for us, even meat-centric ones like thanksgiving. It means sometimes that there are a few extra pots and pans on the stove, but really, it all works.
Thanks for all the wonderful responses! To answer to the query, no he does not have any issues with me eating meat around him, and thankfully he is not the soapbox type, and doesn't feel the need to preach any sort of vegetarianism towards me. At his house, we eat meatless (which I have no problem with...I grew up in a home where we had 3-4 veggies with every meal, but I definitely enjoy my meat) and I eat meat when out and on my own . I had just googled it and could find no personal experiences (and hoped the 'hounds would help out...as you all did! thank you :) ). I really appreciate hearing personal experiences. Thank you again :)
I'm vegan and happen to have only ever dated meat-eaters. I'm living with a meat eater now and the grill is our best friend. Both BF & I love to cook, but we basically don't prepare meat in the house. BF eats meat off the grill all the time & when guests come over we often serve them grilled meat if they want it. I'd recommend exploring the grill!
Good luck! It sounds like you two are respectful of each others choices -- what a great foundation for a relationship!!
I live with a "vegetarian", but I am not one. There are no particular ethics in this one, just after so many years the idea eating meat is nauseating to her. She does in fact enjoy some types of seafood, hence the quotes, hehe, but our attempts at cooking these at home have generally failed. So when we cook at home (either of us, or together) it's typically non-meat, or something to which I can easily add some chicken cooked separately. Depends on the day, my mood, etc. If I want meat in a meal at home it's all on me, and often enough I don't bother. I might have had meat of some kind in my lunch anyway, don't have to have it every meal. I've given up cooking complex meat-based meals at home because I don't really care enough to eat that and certainly not when it would only be me eating it.
Eating out means looking for somewhere that we can both enjoy, although I'm not averse to eating at veg-only places. Around here those are scarce so we look for places that have a decent veg option (or, if fine dining, where we can warn them at reservation time that we have a vegetarian in the party). No young children involved here, now or ever. (She has adult children; I have none.)
My FIL is vegetarian and my MIL is not. When they ate in, she did all the cooking. For the many years they were married, my MIL would usually make meals where the meat and other components were cooked separately, i.e. spaghetti with arabbiata sauce and meatballs on the side. It wasn't a wonderful arrangement because despite her many, many other redeeming characteristics, she's not very interested in cooking or food and didn't really include much vegetarian protein in her meals. But my FIL evidently supplemented the meals pretty frequently with treats from the local Indian restaurant. Both of their children were raised as omnivores.
I would personally love to raise my children as vegetarians -- or at least as omnivores who don't rely on meat. I really would be thrilled if meat did not taste delicious to me since I have major moral problems with killing animals for food when it's not a biological imperative for humans (given our many sources of non-animal protein) and with the way many animals are raised for food. But alas, the habit is hard to break. I envy my FIL for the fact that even bacon doesn't smell good to him.
My answer is very similar - I was a vegetarian for ten years and my husband wasn't, and I pretty much cooked vegetarian at home; we eat in restaurants at least twice on weekends, and he often had an event to attend once a week, for which he'd make his own frozen meal that sometimes had meat and sometimes didn't. I think - having been vegetarian and non-vegetarian - that it doesn't seem like it should be that much of a challenge to make meals at home work. Surely people who eat meat don't eat it every meal, or even every day; if at least one of you has a job, you probably eat at least one meal every day apart; and I guess I never understood (not pointing a finger at you by any means!) why some meat-eaters seem to feel like it's simply not possible to enjoy a hearty veggie stir-fry, spaghetti, lasagne, pizza, etc, without meat. Of course, if you're the non-vegetarian and you're doing the cooking, you can just keep the meat item for yourself apart.
I see a lot of horror stories about people on one side of the veg/non-veg regime thinking people on the other side are real jerks about it, but that hasn't been my experience in real life, thank goodness. If he's cooking dinner for you both at his house he'll probably choose to cook a vegetarian meal, and he's probably gotten pretty good at it. :) At your house, hopefully he wouldn't be offended if you want meatballs on the side of your mutual spaghetti marinara. Being nice about it goes a long way. Best luck.
The couples I know where one is veg and the other isn't, the non-veg person basically only eats meat when they're out (or at work, or if they pack their own lunches they might pack something that contains meat), and the home is vegetarian, especially if the veg person is an ethical vegetarian. As far as kids, it's a similar situation -- the kids in these kinds of homes that I'm aware of eat veg at home, but whether or not they're allowed to eat meat outside the home depends on the family.
I happen to have a lot of vegetarian and vegan friends, and have never felt deprived when eating in their homes -- far from it! I've started cooking veg more (for money-saving and ethical reasons) and have found it to be a real kick in the pants as far as creativity. My repertoire of "ethnic" foods has really been expanded by my avoidance of meat.
I honestly don't think it's a huge deal, unless your S.O. would be offended by your eating meat. If he's going to be grieved and troubled by the fact that you like to eat animals, I would think the relationship be a no-go, unless you're willing to give up meat.
Ultimately, just about every couple will have to deal with some kind of dietary restriction, whether for high blood pressure or diabetes or just the indigestion that often accompanies "maturity" (grins), right? So you get a chance to navigate that now, not 50 years from now... :)
I'm a vegetarian. DH is not. Since I do pretty much all of the cooking, I cook vegetarian. DH thinks I am a good cook -- which I guess goes a long way in this case. He knows he is welcome to cook something for himself if he chooses, since I will not cook meat (no chicken or fish either - I am not one of those vegetarians with quote marks). He usually chooses not to bother. He does get meat when we order in or when we go out to dinner. I do not have a problem with that (though he knows I'll make him brush his teeth before I'll kiss him). :)
I think every couple makes it work in their own way. Is the gentleman the type who cannot or will not tolerate even to have animal products in his home? That would be a much more difficult scenario. I like maplesugar's suggestion of the Flexitarian Table too.
ETA: we are child-free, so that issue does not arise.
I was lacto-ovo vege for years (eggs&dairy) DH is most definitley the polar opposite. In those 10+ years we made a lot of vege meals, quiches/fritatas, bbqs were easier, since I could throw on a veggie burger on my side of the grill. It's not easy but it's doable assuming he's not going to be offended if you cook meat in the house. fwiw our kids have been raised omnivores and so far only one is a die-hard meat-eater, the other two seem to prefer vegetarian dishes.
I suggest you check out Peter Berley's Flexitarian Table and the related Cookbook of the Month (COTM) threads.