They say opposites attract. For my boyfriend Rick and me, that couldn’t be more true — especially during meal time.
Once upon a time, Rick and I had the same tastes; We both liked pepperonis on our pizzas and ketchup on our burgers. At the time, it’s as if the aroma of cooking meat brought about a primal instinct within me; at the very whiff, hunger could instantly be triggered.
Rick and I have been together for nearly eight years but about a year into our relationship, I became a vegetarian.
My reasons for restricting my diet, however, were not because of a sudden distaste for meat. Rather, it was a distaste for the meat industry.
When I was 20 years old, I watched Food Inc., a documentary that focuses on major corporations’ role in the American food industry. It opened my eyes to the brutal truths about our food.
Camera crews followed a Perdue chicken farmer into a dimly lit structure. Inside were hundreds of thousands of unhealthy and overweight hens. “This isn’t farming,” she said, suited in a protective face mask as she looked out toward the sea of hens that would soon be slaughtered, packaged and placed on the shelves of our supermarket. “This is just mass production, like an assembly line in a factory.”
From that moment in the film, my sense of urgency grew; Tears filled my eyes while disgust and outrage flooded my entire body. I knew I had to change something. I quit eating meat cold turkey.
Thus, Rick and my journey began. Rick, a hunter and proud meat eater and I, a new vegetarian, had to learn to tolerate one another during mealtime.
When it all began, thin strands of pasta smothered in red sauce and a simple side salad often graced the plates of our shared meals.We both liked it, it was easy and cheap to make and, best of all, it was vegetarian.
It quickly became clear, however, that we would have to do better than throwing together some pasta and romaine and calling it dinner.
When I cooked for just myself, I progressively became more creative. I dabbled with tofu, quinoa and a variety of other veggies and fruits I had never considered eating before. But more often than not, Rick turned his nose up at the idea of eating these “weird” foods.
It’s not that he didn’t like the new ingredients, they were just unfamiliar. The dramatic aromas that wafted off my creations seemed to always seemed to win him over eventually, though.
Thus, our journey progressed.
“Oooh, what’s that?” Rick would ask charmingly, hoping I’d offer him up a bite. I’d go on to describe all the “weird” ingredients I’d included but, all of a sudden, they no longer seemed so weird to him.
Embarking on this veggie voyage has been a constant learning experience for both Rick and myself. For me, the decision to go vegetarian seemed obvious; I knew I wanted to change my impact on the world and this decision seemed like the most immediately accessible. Rick, on the other hand, wasn’t so convinced.
Rick’s been hunting game since he was 16 years old. He’s harvested everything from wild boar, and deer to turkey and duck. I’ve often heard the argument “if you eat animals, you don’t love animals.” I used to agree but after talking with Rick and learning more about his experience with hunting, that just didn’t seem to be true.
“To me, hunting is not all about harvesting the trophy animal everyone wants,” Rick explained to me. “It’s about taking an animal from the land and being grateful for the meat it has provided.”
“A good majority of all savvy hunters always keep conservation in mind,” he continued. “Although it would be great to take down the biggest and largest-racked buck we find, we sometimes will pass on it to ensure that his good genes are passed on to future generations, so more deer like him will be produced.”
It’s this idea that’s given me an exception to my vegetarianism. While it’s not often, I feel completely comfortable eating the meat Rick has brought back from a hunting trip because it was not raised on a factory farm.
Now, when we cook together at home, Rick always follows my vegetarian preferences. Although he hasn’t chosen to become a full-blown vegetarian himself, he understands and respects my decision to do so.
It’s been six years and, we’ve come a long way since our red spaghetti days! Cooking together has become an adventure.
Rick takes pride in showing off the new flavor combos we’ve come up with together. This simple diet change has taught us to accept each other’s values even when they may not directly reflect our own.
And with that, the vegetarian and the hunter continue to live happily ever after.
I chose to stop eating meat products and, as a result, I’ve gotten one step closer to becoming ‘the change I wish to see in the world.’ This simple change is just a step in the right direction, for me, to help make the world a better place as I see it. Any change can be impactful, no matter how insignificant it may seem.
WELCOME TO THE RECIPE ZONE
Here are some of our favorite veggie meals that we think you’ll love too:
-Baked sweet potato dressed in coconut oil, stuffed with sauteed spinach, walnuts and cranberries
-Sauteed mushroom, spinach and yellow onion sandwiches mixed with baked squash on sliced sourdough bread with vegan garlic mayo and avocado
-Cream sauce pasta (hoping to one day find a good vegan substitute for the cream) pretty much mixed with any kind of sauteed veggies that tickles your fancy. We like mushrooms, squash, zucchini, broccoli olive, tomato and yellow onion. (You definitely need a big pan and a big appetite for this one!) Add some ground ginger and turmeric, or keep it a little more traditional with rosemary and some basil (fresh if you can!).
-Tofu stir-fry, with mixed veggies and rice (and kidney beans if you want!)
and some “Family-favorite” recipes from Rick’s successful hunting trips:
-”Wild pig tacos”: Sauteed green peppers, onions and tomatoes, blanketed with cheese, wrapped in a corn or flour tortilla
-”Deer cheeseburgers”: According to my dad, “just like a regular cheeseburger, but with (ground) deer meat instead of beef.”
-Venison and boar jalapeno smoked cheddar sausages
-Venison steak marinated in teriyaki sauce
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