Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Omnivore in Relationship with Vegetarian

I had an interesting conversation with the associate who sold me moisturizer at the Origins counter recently.

Karen is vegetarian and her husband is a steak chef, a challenging combination when it comes to meal times, she told me.

"Completely understand," I responded.

You see, I'm a meat-eater, an omnivore, to be precise. And up until recently, I was in a relationship with a vegetarian who ate fish a couple times a week, and an enormous amount of fruit. I'd say he's a fruitarian with vegequarian overtones.

We did most our grocery shopping together at Whole Foods; that alone was a challenge given that I'm an stimulus-sensitive introvert who dislikes shopping and he's an extrovert who is energized by the stimulation of shopping.

However, we managed: I with my list and 40-minute in-and-out strategy, and he with no list and a tendency to impulse purchase.

I say we managed, but really we compromised:
  • I sometimes sat in the car and snoozed while he did the shopping.
  • He sometimes followed me about, collecting the items as I read them off my list.
  • In other words, one week we did it my way, one week his way.
Either way, we always came in on budget, around $120 for two for a weeks worth of groceries.

That was possible because I tended not to buy meat for me. Instead we bought fish for us, and then, enough for maybe 3 meals.

So our grocery bill was on the lower side (given that one of us was an impulse shopper), because we weren't buying meat, not even less expensive cuts of meat, only fish: tinned, fresh, and shellfish.

Ultimately, I made the bigger compromise, eating meat protein only when we ate out.

Karen, whom I mention above, confirmed that something like that happens in her family too. At home, her vegetarian diet dominates and her husband eats his steak at work.

I'm no longer in the relationship I mention above, and by the time it was over, I was under-weight and my health-care practitioner suggested I increase the amount of meat protein in my diet because I was a bit anemic.

I have to confess that was easy for me to do because I really do enjoy small portions of meat and poultry several times a week and obviously my body needs it too.

In retrospect, it really was challenging, living with someone with very different dietary and metabolic needs than mine. If the relationship had continued, my health would have required that I reintroduce more meat protein into my diet, but I'm not sure how I would have done that, other than cook two separate evening meals.

I'd be very interested to hear from others on this topic. Do post a comment if you have feedback, observations, and or ideas on how to manage in relationship when you consume very different diets.


Erika Kerekes said...

My husband and I are both omnivores (our kids too), but his major food groups are chocolate, cheese and pate. Fortunately for him, he's blessed with good genes that keep his cholesterol in the 160s despite his eating habits.

I, on the other hand, try to eat vegetables at every meal, insist that our kids finish their salad at dinner, make a protein with three veggies for dinner and carbs only a couple times a week. I don't much like sweets and serve fruit for dessert to the kids most of the time.

I have always done all the food shopping and preparation - until recently, when I went back to work full-time and he took on the role of at-home parent. Now he does the shopping. The first few times he brought back some utter CRAP (prepared taquitos, high-fat empanadas, etc.) from Costco. I explained why it was unacceptable for the children to eat it and told him he could either eat it all himself, return it, or toss it. (He ate it.)

His shopping habits have gotten better. I do the farmer's market on weekends. I make detailed Costco lists. And he eats most of his junk food out of sight of the kids, after they're asleep (he stays up late).

And still, his cholesterol and blood pressure are low, and mine are high. His weight hasn't changed much in the past 10 years. Curse him! (But I love him.)

Louise Ross said...

I'm posting this comment on behalf of Catherine:

"With that kind of unsymetrical way of eating, (and I have it in my household) -- it's important that both or one person take trips -- far away and frequent!!"

Just Another Day In Paradise said...

I was a vegetarian for 11 years. I met my husband and he tried to woo me with his cullinary skills. He is a chef, owns a restaurant, etc. We ate separate meals every night. About 3 years into our relationship, he was eating steak and I just blurted out "GIVE ME THAT STEAK!" and went to town with it. I got very sick, but oooooh it was so worth it. Eventually (about a year or so later) I could eat meat without getting sick directly after I ate it. Now I pretty much only eat chicken, so he's still cooking 2 meals most nights, but I feel so much healthier with the added protein. Bless his heart for being my own private chef, who thinks cooking 2 meals is a lot easier than having 20 tickets up on the line... never complains.

Just Another Day In Paradise said...

I figure as long as we are still paying his student loan bills from culinary school, he will be forced to put it to good use ;)

Louise Ross said...

Oh, don't think I realized your accommodating hubby had gone to culinary school! In that case, it's good practice for him, cooking 2 meals each evening :)