Food and relationships, for me they have always been closely bound. Fall in love? Lose 5 pounds. Heartbroken? Lose 10 pounds. Or, as my current situation reflects, get comfortable in a three-year relationship? Gain 15 pounds.
So, when swimming suit season was in full swing and I realized I wasn’t particularly fond of my ‘chubby bits’ (as my boyfriend lovingly calls them), I was looking for ways to slim down. But in looking for ways to slim down, my binging problem (that I have struggled with on-and-off since early high school) flared up. And so finally, deciding I love myself, chubby bits and all, and simply want to be happy, healthy and in control of my eating, I started reading “Breaking The Food Seduction”.
You know when you read a book that you feel has been written just for you? When you read it, you feel compelled to exclaim things like, “Mmmhmmm!” and “I see!” and “Of course!” out loud, even in public places? That was this book for me. And after I read it, it was suddenly clear that I wanted to try a vegan diet and I wanted to start right this minute.
Now I’m a get-an-idea-into-my-head-and-embrace-it-full-swing kind of gal, while my dude is much more of a lets-silently-mull-this-over-for-several-months-before-we-make-any-kind-of-move-resembling-an-action guy. So, since I read this book during a weekend he was working out of town, let me just say he was more then a little surprised when he came back and I tried to serve him an eggless egg salad sandwich for lunch (you make it with tofu and it’s FANTASTIC).
“Ummm, Lauren… What the hell is this?”
“It’s egg salad.”
“No it’s not.”
“Well, it’s eggless egg salad.”
“You can’t have egg salad without the egg. Then it would just be called ‘salad.’ And this is NOT salad.”
“Well, whatever it’s called, do you like it?”
“Oh. Why not?”
“Because you told me we were going to have egg salad. I had my heart set on egg salad.”
“No, I said we were going to have EGGLESS egg –“
“Ok, ok, whatever!”
I continue to munch away while he eyes his sandwich suspiciously.
“Did we run out of eggs or something?”
“No. While you were gone I decided to become vegan, so I’m just trying out some new recipes. Yesterday I had chickenless chicken salad, tomorrow I might try tunaless tuna salad, and on Tuesday –”
“Wait, wait, you became WHAT?”
“Vegan. No meat, no dairy, you know.”
“No, I DO NOT know. Lauren, I grew up on a BEEF farm.”
“Yes. Yes you did.”
We have a bit of a stare down before he grabs his keys and gets up from the table.
“Where are you going?”
“Tim Horton’s. They have egg salad – WITH EGGS IN IT.”
Over the next two weeks we were in total turmoil. I always knew enjoying food together was an important staple of our relationship, but I didn’t realize just how threatened and alone we would both feel if one of us made a significant change in our diet. When I cooked, I continued to make a selection of vegan recipes for dinner and he continued to haw and hum about it. When he cooked, he would base the meal around meat as he always had and I would eat everything but. Finally we came to a compromise – He would include another protein source in the meals he cooked and I would start making him chicken or beef on the side.
Finally there was some small semblance of harmony in our foodie relationship again, and we could at least be civil to each other while eating dinner. But, as my wonderful man never fails to surprise me, I was thrown for another loop during a conversation we had on our way to my parent’s cottage.
“I wanted to let you know that stir-fry thing you made last night was really good. What was that sauce called again?”
“Tahini, right. So, I know you’ve been talking a lot about the health benefits of going vegan and I guess you’ve got me thinking a bit, and I wanted to let you know that if you’re cooking recipes as tasty as that Tahini thing, you don’t have to do the meat on the side for me anymore.”
“Yeah, no problem. It’s a lot of extra work for you anyway and a bit less meat will be good for me.”
Since then I’ve made us stuffed portobellos with tomato-shallot vinaigrette, a kale, olive and sundried tomato pizza with a spelt pizza crust, and sweet potato curried cauliflower soup (please note that my staple meals before I got into vegan cooking were a toss up between hamburger helper and soup a la can). Today is our three-year anniversary (yay!) and to celebrate we chose a meal to make together out of my new cookbook – Udon Noodles with Tofu and Gingered Peanut Sauce. And right now, in this moment, our relationship has never been better, and I have never felt healthier.