On Negotiation and Compromise, or How to Eat with an Omnivore

A couple of years ago, I made a pizza with someone who, although a meat eater,  talked me into making a meatless, cheeseless, sauceless pizza.

[176/365] Compromise Pizza

I made it look nice for the photo, but no, reader; it was not good. This sad pizza came about through what was termed “negotiation and compromise,” but what was in fact something more like endless veto power. I vetoed meat and real dairy cheese; he vetoed soy cheese and jarred sauce. We basically dumped the contents of that week’s CSA bag onto the homemade crust –which are both good things — but it really wasn’t the pizza I wanted, you know?

Currently I have a much better sense of compromise with my omnivorous table-mates. W and I eat together almost every night despite our different food philosophies. In this case, making compromises in order to eat together is largely unnecessary — or the compromises are so minor as to be practically insignificant. Here’s what I made for us last week:

Miso Soup with Udon
[52/366] Sushi Plate

Not going to lie: I am kind of proud of this dinner. It suited us perfectly. We both love miso soup, which is vegan anyway. I was easily able to make all of the sushi completely vegan myself, and my salmon-eating dinner guest simply added the fish to the top of his roll when he got here. Simple, and we both got exactly what we wanted to eat.

I’ve found someone who loves food as much as I do and who is also quite choosy about what he eats. Although he’s a meat-eating Alabamian and I’m a vegetarian/vegan transplant, we still have a lot of common ground. We both love Mexican, Japanese, Indian, Chinese, Thai, Italian, pizza, burgers, and on and on. With one small exception that I’ll mention later, we can basically eat whatever we want, either at home or at restaurants, and not feel like we’re making too many sacrifices in the process. Here are some of my favorite things to cook (or have cooked for me) to feed one vegetarian and one omnivore:

Pizza. This is easy and always great. I do the crust and divide it in half; we each fix our own personal pizza exactly as desired. Easy.

Tacos. W makes this, fixing his meat and my protein (seitan, usually) in separate pans. We share everything else.

Fajitas. Similar to our tacos — W makes the veggies and my protein in one pan and his meat in the second pan.

Burgers. So easy. One veggie burger, one beef. Separate pans or we cook mine first, his second. Buns, toppings, fries are shared.

Pasta. W loves to make spaghetti. We had this the other night and it was great. He makes the sauce and we each add our own protein to it: ground beef for him, seitan or crumbled Field Roast sausage for me.

Lasagna. I made an all vegetarian lasagna not too long ago with crumbled Field Roast sausage in the sauce. I used a ton of real dairy cheese in this case, which was a bit of a compromise because I almost never eat this. I chose good products from the most ethical-seeming (?) producers, however. I still cringe to think of how much the cheese cost. At any rate, W said it was so good he’d consider it not “vegetarian” but simply “meatless,” which is a great compliment in his terms.

Sushi. See above. Big hit!

Curry. I can’t remember exactly how we did this last time. I know I made coconut red Thai curry with the vegetables only, and then added baked sesame tofu to mine. If I remember correctly, W brought some chicken or something he had at home and added it to his (he’s not a tofu fan).

BYO Protein. Lots of times we do salad and/or baked potatoes and/or soup together and we each add our own protein — whatever we’re feeling like. That’s what’s going to happen tonight, in fact. This is just a basic, flexible situation for making do with whatever’s around.

I think we’re both pretty happy and well fed, between these dinners and our amazing weekend breakfasts. We both like to cook and have dishes we’re good at, plus of course several favorite restaurants around town.

The main exception to our dining bliss, however, is this: Southern food. I have certainly cooked plenty of southern-style (but vegetarian) greens before, and he says they’re pretty good for not having pork in them, but if he’s in the mood to go out for traditional southern cuisine, he does it without me because around here, even the vegetables aren’t vegetarian (let alone vegan)! One more exception is pot roast, which he tells me he is making for himself tomorrow night when I have a girls’ night out on the schedule.

So to my fellow vegetarians out there, and to any omnivorous readers who find themselves eating with vegetarians, are there any great modifiable dishes we are missing?


  1. This is all so great! We do a lot of the same things — tacos, pasta, burgers, etc. Another one we love, that is SO easy, is couscous and vegetables. It takes just a few minutes, and it’s really easy for J to add some chicken or something, and if I feel like it, I can add a protein, but I usually just pile a ton of broccoli and cauliflower on and call it good.

    And, the final one, which might be my favorite (and I think I’ve told you about it) is roasted veggies on crusty bread. I use a cream cheese/sour cream/garlic spread to get the veggies to stick, but you could totally use a vegan cream cheese version.


    1. Good ideas! Couscous and vegetables sounds like a really good one, as does the crusty bread. Putting these on the list.


  2. I think there is something so satisfying about finding happy compromises in mixed-food relationships. It just feels so great being able to eat together and (mostly) the same food; at the same time, it confirms each person’s individuality. Your list is so extensive that I can’t really think of anything, other than to mention soups, which I know you did above. There are so many wonderful, filling, vegan soups! I suppose you could do a soup-and-sandwich night, with one pot of soup and then the sandwiches can be veg or not, depending on person. You could also do stuffed vegetables (winter squash, bell peppers, etc.) with a veggie-based filling to which you added different proteins. Yum!


    1. Soups! I haven’t done soup in a while, but I did my favorite butternut squash soup once and that went really well. Must do more.


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