Living Together: Meat Eaters, Vegans, and Vegetarians

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The vegetarian and especially vegan lifestyles have become quite popular over the last few years. These diets come with many restrictions, though. So how does a carnivore or omnivore–who isn’t familiar at all with veganism or vegetarianism–live with someone who strictly identifies as an herbivore?

Know what it all means
If you aren’t sure what your roommate’s lifestyle entails, ask them about it. A vegetarian, according to the North American Vegetarian Association, is someone who does not consume any type of animal flesh. This includes all meat, poultry, fish, and other sea animals. However, some vegetarian sub-groups do eat food items such as fish (pescatarians), eggs and/or dairy products. The American Vegan Society describes a vegan as someone who only eats vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fruits, nuts, and seeds.

Why do people choose to become vegan or vegetarian?
There is a host of reasons why people choose to live this type of dietary lifestyle. For some, it’s a religious or cultural norm that they were raised to abide by. For others, it’s more about personal health. Then, there’s those that want to do their part to have as little impact as possible on the Earth’s environment and natural resources. Lastly, some people choose to become vegan or vegetarian because their budget doesn’t allow for the purchase of expensive meat or seafood.

How can a meat-eating roommate and a vegan or vegetarian roommate live peacefully together?
Set boundaries. Does your roommate have a problem with seeing meat? Smelling meat? If so, does it matter if it’s raw or cooked? If your roommate is sensitive to these things, it doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy your T-bone steak on Sunday nights. But it does mean that you should make an extra effort to consider your roommate. Maybe give him or her a heads up before you start preparing your meal, that way they have a chance to go out for a little while if they choose. At the very least, they can stay out of the kitchen while you whip up your meal.

Don’t use the same cookware or utensils for meat and produce. This goes for plates, cutlery, cutting boards, etc. Cross-contaminating could subject the non-meat eating roommate to meat proteins, raw flesh, and animal blood they are trying so hard to avoid. Each of you could label your items. Or, you could each have different colored cookware and accessories so that you know what items belong to whom, and more importantly, what items are used for meat products, and which ones are not.

Keep meat tightly packaged and sealed to avoid cross-contamination in the freezer or refrigerator. Better yet, it makes sense for the lower shelves to contain meat only. That way if these items leak, they won’t affect any fruits or vegetables since those items would be stored on higher shelves.

Clean up after yourself, meat lover! No vegan wants to see your leftover meatloaf pan still sitting on the counter in the morning.

Respect your roommate’s choices. If you are a meat lover, do not waste your time trying to convince your non-meat eating roommate just how delicious your beef pot roast is, even if it is made with lots of veggies on the side. Similarly, vegans and vegetarians should not shame their meat-eating roommates, nor should they point out the perceived health risks of eating meat. Both roommates should respect each others differences and learn to live cohesively despite the difference in daily living.

Have you ever lived with someone who had different eating habits compared to yours? How did it go?

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