Can One Marriage Sustain Two Diets?
Once upon a time, two people meet and get sweet on each other. They both like movies, books and many other items on the dating checklist which gets longer as one inches closer to middle age.
But aside from politics, manners and clean fingernails, she needs to ascertain one important criterion before plunging deeper into this relationship: Is he a good eater?
In this case, "good" means adventurous, open-minded and willing to try everything on the plate at least once. She shakes her head, thinking of the guy who added ketchup to all his food and then there was the ungrateful punk who had the nerve to critique the get-well soup she lovingly prepared and traveled across town to deliver. Harrumph.
Many meals and relationship hurdles later, the two lovebirds decide to get married. She cooks; he eats and cleans up -- and starts to pack on the pounds.
One day, in an effort to jump start weight loss and more mindful eating (or perhaps mindful restraint), he announces he's going on a vegan diet. "That's right," he proclaims. "No meat, dairy and eggs for a whole month. I'll never climb Mount Everest, but I think I can do this," he says while polishing off an extra helping of London broil.
The wife applauds his initiative and lends her support. "Hey, this is why I married the guy," she says to herself. "He's a good eater."
And so the vegan experiment at Casa Mighty Appetite begins. Mister assures Missus that she needn't make him anything special, that he will cook for himself.
Over the course of the next four days, there would be many trips to Whole Foods, My Organic Market and the neighborhood farmer's market. There was much label reading being done, and a hunt for products (rather than ingredients) ensued. But not one cookbook was cracked open.
The cabinets now filled to the gills with bags and boxes of vegan-friendly vittles, Mister Mighty Appetite set out on his solo kitchen adventure, while his other half waited for her turn in the kitchen. It was becoming the "His 'n' Her Meals" cooking show.
Along with the staggered cooking came dining alone. And on the fourth day, while I fixed myself an egg with some fresh chives and Mister MA tucked into a soy-cheese sandwich with warmed up marinara sauce, I came to an important realization: We had stopped sharing our time in the kitchen and at the table, which meant we had stopped spending our only free time together.
The moral of this story is NOT that going vegan is a bad thing guaranteed to ruin a marriage. Not by a long shot. In spite of its short life, the experiment succeeded in asking lots of questions -- how can a couple with differing diets peacefully cook and eat together? And what if one person wants to change the eating status quo -- what steps need to be taken to maintain balance and equity in a relationship?
Maybe two is better than one and I should have joined the old boy in his vegan adventure. Maybe not.
Maybe he should have asked me to teach him a few vegan recipes to bridge the gap and include me on his journey.
And MAYBE we both should have pushed each other to keep going for the remaining 26 days, to use it as an opportunity for palate expansion and contraction -- with a little humility thrown in for good measure.
One thing's for sure -- I married a good eater, and I'm proud of him for walking the vegan walk, even if it only lasted for four days. I'm betting there will be a next time, for at least twice as long, and perhaps he'll have a vegan co-pilot to help navigate the terrain.
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