Omni on Vegan: Tips for Omnivores
GUEST POST BY AYINDÉ HOWELL AND ZOË EISENBERG
You’re not a vegan. And let’s face it: you may never call yourself a vegan. If you’re down to date a vegan, then good for you. The reality is, once it’s past the fun hook-up-on-a-Friday-night phase, and past the awkward “soooo, what are we?” phase, and into the comfy “we” are an “us” phase, then it’s time to know how to handle your vegan.
With infatuation comes a willingness to try new things. You hit some vegan- friendly restaurants and order the zucchini Alfredo with bean balls. Heck, even enjoy it! (Of course you do, vegan food is delicious.) But eventually you realize that this person might be the one. Like, really “the one.” So maybe it’s time to really understand what veganism is all about, so that the two of you can coexist in omni-on-vegan harmony.
Tips for Omnivores
The first thing you should do when you find out someone you’re dating is vegan is learn what the lifestyle is all about. This way, the next time you talk about it, you won’t irritate them with questions like, “So you don’t eat dairy? What about cheese? Eggs? Fish? Fish aren’t really animals…”
Talk about it
After you’ve done your research and can successfully pronounce quinoa and know what “nooch” is (psst: it’s vegan slang for nutritional yeast), bring up your partner’s veganism on your own. This will make you look thoughtful and caring. Also, your partner may be a bit nervous talking about it in your new relationship for fear of coming off as preachy. And if they do end up being a bit preachy, well, bite your tongue and come at it with an open mind.
The key to connecting with your vegan is keeping an open mind and trying new things. No one will judge you if you don’t like hijiki salad, but you should at least try it. If it’s prepared well, it will probably be tasty, so give it a shot before you wrinkle your little omni nose. This open-minded attitude should not stop at mealtime. Your vegan probably has myriad opinions about their concern of choice: animal rights, the environment, the industrialization of our country’s food system, and so on. Listen, engage, and add your own flavor to the conversation. Look at you, being all mature and progressive!
Stock up on meat-free eats
Mind you, we’re not suggesting you stop eating meat. We will never ask that of you, I promise. However, if you’re far enough into your relationship where you’re camping out at each other’s places, then you might want to pepper your pad with some vegan staples. Please don’t stock your freezer with Boca burgers and call it quits. I know you can’t have the ingredients for beer-battered tempeh tacos on hand all the time, but at least stock up on a few go-tos.
Make an effort
It never hurts to make an effort to show someone you like the way they’re put together. Some simpler ideas that don’t involve storing chocolate mousse in a mini-cooler in the trunk of your car:
Get all of the ingredients for a fancy-shmancy meal, and suggest you cook it together. If your cooking skills are seriously lacking, then just ask them to teach you how to cook a vegan dish. This is a way to turn the whole “I can’t cook” situation into a cute opportunity to accidentally rub up against each other as you crowd around the stove.
If you want to eat out, you don’t have to go to an all-veg place. There may not even be an all veg place where you live! No sweat. Just research the menu of a restaurant before suggesting it. You will seem really sweet when you say, “Hey, let’s check out Olives and Sauce, because I hear they have some great vegan options.” Swoon!
Is it lovely outside? Go for a picnic!
Have a food-tasting party. Instead of one large meal, make a ton of appetizers. This way, you can try all sorts of vegan-friendly dishes, work on your plant-based cooking skills, and have an excuse to eat with your fingers.
Perfect a few recipes
Just picture it: they’re standing in your kitchen, stomach a-rumbling. They suggest you order in, and you say “Why order in, when I can whip you up my specialty of <insert appealing-sounding vegan dish here>?” Get a few recipes down hard so that you have confidence in your ability to make them, and make them well.
From The Lusty Vegan © 2014 by Ayinde Howell and Zoe Eisenberg. Used with permission from Vegan Heritage Press.