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August 04, 2010

Food compatibility and relationships

Posted in: Food Culture,Rachel,Vegetarianism

Could you stay seriously romantically involved with someone who didn’t care about food the way you do?

That’s the question posed over at the CNN blog Eatocracy and surprisingly, the majority of respondents say that it is indeed a dealbreaker in a relationship.  The gist of the post seems to be aimed more at epicurean foodies who look for like-minded palates in a mate, but it’s worth exploring other aspects of dietary discordance too, like sustainable food or vegetarian/vegan diets.  I had been vegetarian for a little over two years when I met Brandon.  Our whirlwind relationship moved quickly and I seriously think that the first inkling I felt that hey… this could actually be the one started when I looked in his refrigerator freezer that first weekend and saw at least five different varieties of Morningstar Farms veggie burgers lining the shelves.  Brandon wasn’t vegetarian then, but had undergone a kind of mid-life crisis months earlier and had ditched his fast food diet for veggie burgers and taken up running again.

Food played a large role in our budding relationship those first few months.  I was on the tail end of my recovery from an eating disorder and Brandon was a bachelor who cooked most of his meals in a microwave.  I turned him on to sesame rye crackers and hummus, veggie taco salads and homemade healthy pizza.   He reintroduced me to chocolate, bread and ooey gooey cheesy pizza from our favorite local pizza parlor.  I tried not to evangelize vegetarianism, but since we planned meals and grocery shopped together, our meals tended to be vegetarian.  In fact, I can recall only two instances after we met in which Brandon ate meat — once when he and his brother dined out together and without me and again when we dined out with friends at a restaurant with a very limited veggie-friendly menu.  Within six months after we moved in together, he went completely vegetarian.  My mom, who was slow to understand my vegetarianism for the longest time, chided me for “making” Brandon give up bacon.  “Let that boy eat some meat already!” she’d scold.  True, I didn’t exactly relish the idea of kissing Brandon after he’d eaten charred animal flesh nor did I want to see it in my refrigerator, but what my mom didn’t understand is that I didn’t force Brandon into anything; he went vegetarian because he loves me and knew how important it was to me.

Vegetarianism, however, is the point in which our shared taste in food ends.  I’m both health- and environmentally-conscious and also try to follow a relatively low glycemic diet for health reasons.   Brandon?  Eh, not so much.  I love green vegetables — kale, spinach, broccoli, okra, Brussel sprouts, salads…  The only vegetables Brandon eats are the “bad” white ones — corn and potatoes.  He can tolerate certain vegetables in things, like soups and stir-frys or on pizza, but you will never find him digging into a plate of freshly steamed vegetables on their own.  Here’s an example of our different palates: Neither of us are foodies nor do we even really like to cook.  One evening I was busy with work and other things and left dinner up to him.  After a half hour of rooting around in the cabinets and refrigerator, I asked him if he had any ideas.  “Veggie chicken nuggets?” he suggested. “And….?” I asked.  He shuffled his feet.  “Uhh, French fries?”  “How about Quorn chicken with a baked potato and steamed broccoli?” I asked.  He wrinkled his nose.

We try to prepare dinners that both will like and find satisfying, but often times we’ll also each fix our own dinners, too.  A veggie burger or chicken patty for him; a veggie burger or veggie chicken and a side of steamed veggies for me.  It may seem odd to some, but it works for us.  How about you?  Do you and your partner share similar or completely different dietary tastes?  Could you ever be in a relationship with someone who isn’t on the same page as you when it comes to food?


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