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I'm vegetarian, he's not. How can we compromise better?

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Question - (7 November 2018) 10 Answers - (Newest, 9 November 2018)
A female Ireland age 22-25, anonymous writes:

I've been vegetarian for 4 years, since before I met my boyfriend. He's a big meat eater, and I honestly don't mind what he eats. I've never tried to convert him. We've found some common ground - we cook a couple of great vegetarian dishes together - but I'm getting tired of compromising on having meat in some food. I try to be flexible and a "laid-back" vegetarian, because I don't want to be seen as difficult, but it's starting to really bother me.

When we make meals like fajitas or a green curry, we cook them with chicken in, and then I just fish out the chicken when we eat. For the curry in particular, this means the whole curry tastes like chicken broth. It spoils it for me. I've suggested cooking the chicken separately but he says it wouldn't soak up any flavour. We can't cook different meals at the same time, either - we're in student accommodation with a miniscule kitchen.

I'd like to at least add more vegetables in to give me more variety, but my boyfriend dislikes broccoli and carrots (my favourites) and he says it would be too much work to fish those out (which I find a bit hypocritical...). Sometimes I can cook them separately and add them to my portion, but he sighs about me getting in the way with my chopping and my extra saucepan. He goes home every weekend, so we only have 4 meals together per week and I'd like to be able to enjoy them more.

I don't want to cause arguments; we both like having couple time by eating together, it feels nice and homey after a stressful day at college. But I want to fix this issue. I am making my choice from a moral perspective - I love animals and don't want dead ones in my food. I don't think it's the same thing as just not liking carrots, but he sees them as equivalent. How can I approach a proper conversation about this without coming across as the stereotypical preachy/picky vegetarian and maybe get him to take my feelings more seriously?

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A female reader, CindyCares Italy + , writes (9 November 2018):

CindyCares agony aunt Go Italian . There are many, many pasta sauces which do not contain meet or can be adjusted to exclude meet , like carbonara with pan-fried zucchini cubes in lieu of bacon. All different, all yummy, it does not have to be that usual boring marinara sauce. Just a few examples , very quick to prepare, then if you want you can look on line for the recipes: asparagus sauce; artichoke and parmesan ; peas and mint ;pistachio pesto ( a variation of the regular "pesto ", which is vegetarian too) ;garlic, olive oil and spicy red pepper ; puttanesca ; fake amatriciana ( with seitan instead of pork cheek ); eggplant sauce. And the list would go on and on and on , I think that even you veg-unfriendly bf would find something of his liking.

Then there are the soups, with vegetable or, even better , with legumes : pasta-e-fagioli, pasta-and -chickpeas, rice with lentils, or pasta- and-potato soup … these are hale and hearty and filling, with a couple of bruschetta slices or a little side salad they make a complete meal.

I don't know if from your diet you only exclude meat, or also eggs and cheese. If you don't exclude eggs and cheese- oh my. the possibilities are countless, there must be hundreds of recipes for omelettes and casseroles and souffles and wraps and whatnot..

Come on, OP, use a little imagination , - or invest in a few good cookbooks; you are bound to find something that's appealing for both of you. After all, there's plenty of people, ( at least in Europe, maybe less so in USA ) that, without being vegeterians, nonetheless don't eat meat often, maybe just once a week at most - either because they don't particularly like the taste, or because meat is expensive, or because of health concerns and dietary restrictions,etc.- that does not mean that they have to limit themselves to the same old , tired raw veggies or tomato salad.

Otherwise, see if you can turn your bf , at least once in a while, to the joys of tofu, tempeh and seitan. ( I doubt it because ,to a true meat lover ,they all taste very bland , no matter how doctored with condiments they are ).But, particularly the last one, seitan, if cooked properly and duly aromatized with sage, rosemary, thyme etc. does have the texture and , somewhat, the taste of a real roast.

I also second the suggestion of getting a minifridge for your own room to store frozen meals. . Cooking in your tiny kitchen sounds complicated regardless, imagine preparing two different meals at the same time- and then again, you do need to get organized and plan your meals with some advance, that's going to save you quite some time, discussions and frustrations.

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A male reader, Code Warrior United States + , writes (9 November 2018):

Code Warrior agony auntYou wrote:

"I am making my choice from a moral perspective - I love animals and don't want dead ones in my food. I don't think it's the same thing as just not liking carrots, but he sees them as equivalent."

You brought up your moral justification, not me. I couldn't care less about your reasons for being a vegetarian and had you not attempted to base it on your morality, I probably would've just posted something similar to what the other aunts wrote.

However, you made it a point to tell us how it's a moral issue for you. I merely questioned if you were actually doing what you claim. It was a simple observation. For all I knew maybe you were growing the vegetables yourself and would be able to counter that attack that way. At no point did I ask you to justify your life. I merely pointed out that if you're going to use a moral claim to improve your leverage and gain a compromise, you should make sure that you're actually living up to your moral claim. Otherwise it would be relatively easy for your boyfriend to nullify your moral claim resulting in you losing that leverage.

You see, I don't have a dog in this hunt, I have nothing to lose, and it doesn't matter to me how you justify your choices. I really don't care one way or another what diet choices people make because diet isn't a moral issue for me. I'm merely pointing out a potential weakness in your leverage that's very easy to attack. If you want to ignore what I, and apparently others, have pointed out, then by all means, continue to make weak and easily refuted arguments and then get upset when your arguments are easily refuted. It's all the same to me. There's no law against making weak and easily refuted moral arguments. It's not very wise, but there you go.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (8 November 2018):

If freezer space is tight, what about getting a mini freezer for your room?

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (8 November 2018):

Code Warrior: How in the world did you come up with that equivalency? I get so tired of hearing that kind of dumb argument. I don't bring up my diet in casual conversation (does anyone?) but sometimes I'll turn down a slice of pepperoni pizza or something with a simple "Oh no thanks, I'm vegetarian", and the next thing I know someone is making me justify my whole life.

If I was going to live a lifestyle that doesn't harm a single other living thing, I guess I'd be in a tent with a vegetable patch drinking rainwater or something. Everything we do impacts someone else, unfortunately. I recognise that and I'm not trying to be perfect. I'm just trying to LESSEN my negative impact on animals and the environment. So many people miss the point entirely, and it baffles me.

In response to other aunts, we only have a small under-counter fridge with a tiny freezer sections, and our roommate gets half that space. So it's not really practical to bulk cook and freeze. We both get home at the same time most days and are tired and hungry, so we just want to get dinner on the table. Plus only one person can really be in front of the hob without stepping on each other's toes, so separate meals would be tricky and probably lead to bickering. I want to find more veggie recipes we can both enjoy. My boyfriend is loving chickpeas lately, but his aversion to most vegetables means it's hard to find recipes he'll try. We probably need to get more organised but we're just run off our feet with work most of the time and don't think of it.

Finding dishes where the meat is on the side is a good idea, thanks for that, Honeypie. The bolognese sauce, too - though I'll need to be careful how I pitch that to him as it probably sounds like more work than it really is.

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (8 November 2018):

P.S.

My friend was a vegan much longer than you've been.

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (8 November 2018):

Cook for yourself, and let your boyfriend cook the meals he likes. Whoever primarily does the cooking either has to compromise and prepare separate menus to accommodate their partners palate; or every man (or woman) for themselves.

This shouldn't even be an argument.

Getting self-righteous and trying to impose your meat-free diet on your boyfriend is controlling and creating conflict.

If you don't wish to cook meat, he has no right to insist that you do.

The problem nowadays is people don't have respect for the tastes, rights, or choices of others. Compromise is off the table; because there is always a struggle to prove who's right, or to enforce one's own agenda.

If you want to keep the peace, cook separately for him; or let him cook for himself. You could also find yourself a boyfriend who is a vegan and both enjoy what you cook.

Please be sure to include supplements that give your body all necessary proteins and minerals. I have a friend who suffered some serious issues from malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies. She didn't realize her body was missing vitamins and proteins found in meat. Her doctor and a nutritionist suggested she include B12 as a vitamin supplement weekly.

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A male reader, Code Warrior United States + , writes (8 November 2018):

Code Warrior agony auntIf it's a moral choice out of love for animals, then I guess I should assume that you only buy vegetables that are known to be farmed without the use of machinery or animal labor? After all, farm machinery kills an enormous number of ground animals and I'd have to assume that you're against forcing animals into heavy labor.

I'd make sure you're really doing what you think you're doing before using your moral imperative as a reason for your boyfriend to work harder to compromise with you. If it turns out that you're just buying vegetables from the grocery store, then I'd say that you're probably not living up to your moral imperative and you need to work on that before bringing it up to him.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (7 November 2018):

How about cooking meals with meat free substitutes like quorn? I’m not a vegetarian but we buy vege burgers, spicy bean burgers, and quorn mince just because we like them. Go to the library and borrow a load of vegetarian recipe books and ask your boyfriend which recipes he likes the look of.

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (7 November 2018):

Cook the dishes which must have meat seperately for him and share the vegi dishes or cook seperately altogether for each.

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (7 November 2018):

Honeypie agony auntCook (if you can) one big portion of curry without the chicken, divide it up into meals and freeze. That way you can just heat YOUR veggie curry and add veggies. And he can COOK and eat his chicken curry.

Whether or not carrots and chicken are comparable is irrelevant.

YOU don't WANT to eat meat, so DON'T.

I don't eat much meat. Maybe twice a week. (I'm not a vegetarian though) but I cook for my family with meat (5 out of 7 days) I just don't eat the meat. I cook extra veggies for myself as well. He needs to SUCK it up with you using and extra sauce pan for crying out loud. As long as you CLEAN it after what the big deal?

I cook 2 spaghetti sauces. One with meat and one without as I have a teen who doesn't like ground meat. The "veggie - sauce" I make once a month and divide into 4 portions - freeze 3 and serve one.

Also you COULD clean your veggies before you two start cooking together. Cleaning and prepping veggies don't take long. And again, you CAN clean and prep them and bag them up for the fridge/freezer.

COMPROMISING is life skill, OP

DOESN'T mean you HAVE to eat meat or food with meat in it. It just means you find ways to make this work.

And yes ,curry doesn't taste the same when not cooked with chicken. BUT if you make a Veggie curry, you can make it YOUR way.

Also, you two should perhaps look into recipes together. What would be good to make - especially dishes where the MEAT goes on the side/is cooked separately.

And of course, there are a LOT of veggies you can eat RAW. You just need to clean them. So again, another option.

What you need to do is explain to him that you have CHOSEN to not eat meat (no need for a feel-good explanation or excuse as to why. YOU JUST DO NOT WANT TO EAT MEAT). Therefore you two need to find recipes that works for the two of you. You shouldn't have to CHANGE what you eat for him and vice verse. So you two need to figure out how to make it work.

Seems like you at least TRY and compromise.

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