How do you and your significant other handle a house divided? For me and the Mr, this comes into play with our football team loyalties. My South Jersey Boy loves his E-A-G-L-E-S, while I root for the Big Blue. Two days a year we can’t watch football in our own home, so we go to “Neutral Territory” (aka. the local sports bar) for game watching. That’s the compromise we made Year One. Likewise, when a major shift in eating habits come into play, you and your significant other need to be in communication with how you’ll work that out. Hopefully you’ll find your own Neutral Territory.
Last week I posted about my experience being vegan for a month – and also why I opted not to continue. First and foremost, I did not just spring my veganism on my husband one day. When I found out I was accepted to yoga teacher training and saw the “Vegan Clause” in my acceptance materials, I told my husband. There was plenty of time to prep for it, both mentally and food shopping-wise. I assured him he wouldn’t be on his own for dinner, and I stuck by that. We ate out a lot less and I’m pretty sure our grocery bill went down significantly that month because I was only buying fish or meat for one and stocking up on fresh produce instead.
Since my husband did not follow me on my vegan journey, mealtimes became a bit of a challenge. We always sit down and have dinner together. It’s our time to spend together and catch up on our days. And I just don’t believe that couples should be eating two completely different meals. Sometimes I’d serve a non-offensive vegan meal, such as pasta with veggie marinara sauce. But sometimes I just had to plan how two different proteins could be used in the same meal.
When it comes to planning a meal using two different proteins, first step is picking the protein. Since I was in the vegan realm, my main sources of protein were either tofu, tempeh, portobello mushrooms, eggplant, or dried black beans. Once I decided which plant-based protein was going to be the lucky winner for the evening, I then had to decide how it would be prepared. From there, I could determine a protein counterpart for my husband. Same starch/grain and veggie side dishes for both of us. The goal is to make the meal as cohesive as possible, even though two different proteins are being used.
The photo above features seared tempeh and mahi mahi with the same pita-chip crust. The preparation style should be the same for both proteins so that the side dishes compliment the meal. It’s also nice to feel like you’re enjoying a similar meal even if there are some differences with the star of the show- kinda like when Fresh Prince of Bel-Aire snuck in a different Aunt Viv. In this case, our proteins were served with a side of roasted potato & butternut squash hash and braised book choy.
Tacos are a perfect meal to enjoy together if different proteins are involved. I would make the Mr his fish tacos while I had either portobello or tofu tacos. Same fillings for both of us- avocados, black beans, cabbage, broccoli slaw, salsa. I’d have regular cheese available for the Mr while I sprinkled on vegan cheese (still don’t care for it). Place in a warm corn tortilla and enjoy.
Some nights my husband did wind up being my guinea pig as I experimented with vegan versions of some of my usual recipes, such as eggplant parm or meatless meatballs. And the good sport that he is tried and gave his honest opinion on all. If I got an “I don’t hate it,” then it was considered a success. Sometimes you don’t even have to leave home to find Neutral Territory.