7 [different] Questions: Nick Conrad
What's it like being an omnivore with a vegan girlfriend?Let's ask my [simply amazing, extremely supportive] boyfriend, Nick Conrad:
VTB: What was your first thought when your girlfriend told you she wanted to try being vegan? Nick: First thought: “Oh shit, now it’s going to be a pain in the ass to eat in a restaurant.” I just didn’t want her to be one of those people that goes out to eat and says to the server, “yeah I’ll have the turkey sandwich but with no turkey, no mayo and no cheese, instead of the turkey I'd like sliced sweet potatoes, instead of the mayo I'd like mustard and instead of the cheese I'd like you to use this" (she produces vegan cheese from her bag) "and also can I have asparagus as my side instead of fries?"- She is nothing like that.
VTB: Has it been easier or harder than you thought it would be dealing with her dietary limitations? Nick: It has been way easier. It’s not near as much of a pain in the ass as I thought it was going to be. You just have to be more creative with your food choices. If we are making food it might take longer to pick something out, especially because we have to read every package thoroughly, but other than that it's no big deal.
VTB: What vegan product have you tried and liked way more than you expected? Nick: Oh, the vegan butter surprised me. Also I discovered lots of things that I already eat are vegan. Kinda fun.
VTB: What vegan product have you secretly hated and been too polite to mention? Nick: Nothing that I abhor. I may have preferences, but almost all of the vegan substations have been surprisingly tasty.
VTB: What have you learned about veganism over the past month? Nick: My GF always tells me of the celebrities that are vegans. Even though I give her crap for it, it is interesting. Also, the connections to dairy allergies and other health problems are interesting. I have learned a lot about genetic modification in food as well as the sad state our current food system is in, but the worst one I have learned is what the meat companies do with the meat that is too rotten to sell: they grind it up and sell it as baby food*. Ewwwww.
[*Editor's Note: He's referring to a quote I've told him about from Gail Eisnitz's Slaughterhouse taken directly from a poultry plant worker:
"I personally have seen rotten meat-you can tell by the odor. This rotten meat is mixed with the fresh meat and sold for baby food. We are asked to mix it with the fresh food, and this is the way it is sold. You can see the worms inside the meat."
VTB: Would you ever consider becoming a vegan? Nick: If I had a choice to still eat meat, I would. But if I had to live on a vegan diet for one reason or another, I would. I have always tried to limit my meat intake. Most Americans eat waaaaay too much meat, beef especially. You don’t need meat at every single meal, or even every day for that matter. I enjoy eating meat, despite all of its downsides. I hope that in the future we can learn as a society to produce safe, healthy meats, at a reasonable price. This American notion that everything has to be at the absolute lowest price possible is in part responsible for many of the economic and ecological problems in the world today. People in this country would rather eat toxic, processed, genetically modified foods than organic, natural products just to save money. As a point, I am one of those people to a degree. I will spend more on certain things, but since I have to watch my money these days, I am more likely to buy food that I know is not the best for me.
VTB: What's your favorite thing about your vegan girlfriend? Nick: Her easygoing, low-maintenance attitude about the whole issue. She knows how to navigate gracefully in a society that doesn’t really know what veganism is, let alone understanding the philosophy behind it. She never seems judgmental, more informative. It is much easier to live with someone who is like that verses someone who waits for you to order fried chicken and then says “…. did you know that chickens are…. (insert anti-meat remark here)." No one likes to be judged for their choices. But if you inform them of what you have learned in a passive way, you will communicate more effectively as well as gain respect for your lifestyle choices.