As promised here are some basic tenants my beloved sister-in-law Ellen and brother Jonathan have written down at my request. They too are an inter-dietary couple, like my love and I, with an added advantage in perspective, as Ellen became vegan years after they became a couple.
Here are their 7 tips, sprinkled with photos of vegan dishes from our joint road-trip of last week:
1. Vegan: Sacrifice a few meals for the other person
Accept the fact that not every single meal you eat will be the best. This way your partner can experience just as many perfect meals. As a vegan, there is always something you can eat, everywhere. Go to a steak house with your partner so they can enjoy life. You won't starve to death, I promise.
2. Vegan: Respect the stages of grief of the Non-Vegan
A few months ago I ask Jonathan, "If you could change anything about me, what would it be?". He very quickly responded "I would make you non-vegan again". He continued by lamenting about how we used to cook together and how it used to feel more symbiotic. I have since made our cooking experiences more similar than not. Even if you are ready to make changes in your life, remember that your partner may not be, and respect that they may be grieving the loss of the old "you".
3. Non-vegan: Who cares what's in a dish, taste it!
You will be surprise to find out that Saitan taste great.
4. Vegan: When traveling or out and about, bring snacks everywhere
Not dissimilar from having a toddler, you will need to feed the hungry vegan if blood sugar gets dangerously low. If your only option is literally to eat meat, you will have something on hand to squelch the tantrum.
5. Non-vegan: Un-vegenize things, it's easy
Every vegan dish can be made non vegan in one easy step, just add meat, fish or cheese! I love feta in my salad and will gladly share a vegan salad which I add Feta to (and/or Chicken).
6. Vegan & non-vegan: Take care of your cravings when eating away from the other person
Jonathan eats at work, or out with others and takes care of meat cravings then.
7. Vegan: Remember the Italians!
Eating together is a ritual and an experience that the Italians have perfected. Even if your food is not ideal or you aren't eating much because there isn't something you want available, take in the environment and the conversation and be grateful for what you do have (....and eat dinner when you get home).
From across oceans and with different backgrounds and experience, human interaction is remarkably similar. Overcoming misconceptions and always always showing respect can bridge gaps that might first seem impossible to traverse.
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