Some of you may already know that Inside Sprout is run by two girls. Julia and me. In a lot of ways we are very similar, and in others, we are not. For example; we both live together with our boyfriend, although hers is vegan and mine isn’t. So, even though it is just me who can write about this subject, we still wanted to create this blog since I am definitely not the only one who is living with a non-vegan partner!
First, I want to give a little backstory into my life and how I ended up where I am now. I have been a vegetarian since I was 9 and back then I was really lucky to have the most amazing parents who respected my food choice. And, occasional jokes aside, my dad always made me a vegetarian dinner. I grew up around meat eaters who always respected my choice not to eat animals. But some people outside my family were a bit different, they called me picky or spoiled and questioned my decisions, my parent's agreement to me not eating animals and my health (mind you, this was about 10-15 years ago and being a vegetarian was very weird back then). After a while, I just went into protective mode and kind of shied away from confrontation. I told people who questioned my diet that I was fine and if they wanted to eat meat that was fine too, heck I even told people that they could have twice as much because I wasn’t eating any (inner facepalm). The thing was that I felt alone being different from everybody else, and that made me less involved in animal welfare and I noticed how easy it is to forget about all the reasons I turned to vegetarianism in the first place. People I talked to, who used to also not eat meat changed back into their old habits (or occasionally ate meat anyway).
I met my boyfriend, Job, 9 years ago and we have been an official couple for 6 years. On our first date we cooked together, or actually, Job tried to cook in his little student dorm and we ate undercooked pasta with burned red sauce (he is a keeper!). He didn’t mind me being vegetarian and also didn’t mind not eating meat when we cooked together. But he ate meat on other occasions. When Job and I moved in together, we had to make some rules because I got annoyed by the meat I saw laying around my fridge and didn’t want my nice pans ruined by them. So I suggested that we could have a meat-free house, and he agreed. He would still eat animals in other occasions. I didn’t care that much at that time, as long as it meant we could cook and eat the same thing that was fine by me.
I got more intense about not eating animals when I went to live in Copenhagen while Job stayed back in the Netherlands. I went back to university and learned way more about the food industry and opened my eyes to all the other aspects of it (dairy especially!).
After graduating, Job and I moved back in together in the Netherlands and things got tough! I wanted to change my lifestyle, protest and convince other people to change. I was finally motivated again and had all these new insights that I wanted to share. And the most difficult part was that, while I had all this information about the industry and the environment and about health, I could not convince my boyfriend. The one person who was closest to me!
So how did I eventually convince my boyfriend to become vegan? Well, I didn’t and he isn’t. What changed is my mindset. I am not going to be the one that convinces him to become vegan. Just like I never changed the beliefs of my family and friends. All I am doing is being an example that living as a vegan isn’t a restriction. It means that you get to taste all these different things that many meat eaters have never heard of, and show it to them. Of course, I still share new research and things I learned with Job, and he takes it all in or we try to have a good discussion about it. While I am writing this I asked Job what he thought was the best thing about how we are living at the moment, and he told me that it’s that he is now more conscious about the environmental damage animal products have on society. He also mentioned he still didn't like tofu. Right now we eat vegan at home though, which is one of our ground rules. Another rule? I can’t guilt him into not eating animal products when we are somewhere else (although I am noticing that he is often choosing vegan options when ordering at restaurants, because then we can share each other's food).
I think living with a non-vegan partner is totally possible, as long as you have open communication and are respectful to each other. Respect and communication is key (and setting some rules about animal products). This means having a partner who respects your choices and takes you seriously. But it also means respecting the meat-eating choices of your partner and letting them make their own choices because they are letting you make yours.
Now on to the fun part! I often complain about my boyfriend not liking salads. But I discovered that it’s not actually salad he dislikes (he will try to say this isn’t true, but it is). He just doesn’t like cold tomatoes mixed with lettuce and cucumber for dinner. Enter rice wraps! These things are so fun to fill and perfect for a summer dinner! We filled them with marinated tempeh, several veggies, mango and almonds and dipped them in a peanut soy sauce. I can hardly call it a recipe, because it is basically just throwing veggies on rice paper and wrapping them, but it’s meat eater and salad hater approved.
Rice paper wraps
± 8 rice paper wraps
1 carrot (sliced)
1 mango (peeled and cut)
¼ cabbage (washed and cut)
½ cucumber (washed and cut)
1 bell pepper (sliced)
1 avocado (peeled and cut)
15 almonds (cut)
100 gram tempeh
1 tbsp soy sauce
½ tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp sriracha
1 tbsp peanut butter
½ tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp soy sauce
± 2 tbsp water
To marinate the tempeh, slice it into strips and mix with the soy, maple and sriracha. Heat up a pan and bake on medium heat for ⅔ minutes on each side. Make the sauce by mixing all ingredients together except the water. Add the water last until it reaches the desired consistency (we used 2 tbsp).
Boil water and add to a shallow bowl, add a little cold water (so you don’t burn yourself when touching the water). Take one of the rice sheets and submerge into the water for 20 seconds. Take it out and place all the toppings on the sheet and roll up. Dip into the sauce and enjoy.