Love vs. Vegetarianism

It’s the rare vegetarian who has a tattoo like this.

For those of you who have read my blog regularly over the past years, you know I’m not a vegetarian, nor do I trip all over myself to make sure vegetarians always feel like they have equal footing in my menus. Simply put, I like meat, I cook meat, and if you have a diet that precludes you from enjoying it, then you’re likely to go hungry around me.

My brother is a vegetarian, and his wife is a vegetarian who eats seafood (referred to as a “pescatarian,” though I prefer the term “vegaquarian”). Whenever they are around, I of course make sure to cook vegetable dishes at my highest ability for them. Family is important, and I believe in making sure they feel that when they are around. But if you think even that’s going to stop me from grilling up some steaks around them – well, you just don’t know me that well.

I think the real issue I have with vegetarians is the fact that they never recognize they are eating a diet of luxury. We live in a society where we can actually afford to pick and choose what we want to eat, and can exclude certain things from our diets because there is so much choice. It really doesn’t take into account those in the world who don’t have such luxury in their life, and yet they so often frame their decision as the moral high ground. And of course, this is where I get off the boat completely.

Example of a wonderful vegetarian – my fiance Susan. Note how she makes sure the ring is visible in the photo…

Now I’m not saying all vegetarians are like this. As mentioned above, I know many wonderful vegetarians who are great people and do the most important thing when it comes to vegetarianism: They keep their opinions to themselves, and are not a burden to everyone around them with their dietary choices. And that is the perfect place to bring up my lovely fiance, Susan.

Susan, when I met her over 10 years ago, was a vegetarian, and had been for many years. She chose vegetarianism for personal reasons, but I was always amazed at how cool she was about it. I remember one time when we were having dinner, and I had ordered spaghetti carbonara (pasta with cream, cheese, eggs and bacon). She willingly took a bite, just pushing the bacon to the side. None of the, “eeeww, it has meat somewhere in it,” or the, “I’m a vegetarian, and would never think of eating that,” nonsense. Just worked around the meat to try something truly wonderful and share in her friend’s experience.

In short, she was the coolest vegetarian I had ever met.

But when Susan and I started dating, the issue crept into the back of my mind, “could I really seriously date a vegetarian?” Sure, this is the “coolest” vegetarian I know, but vegetarian all the same…. Could it work, or were we as star-crossed as Romeo and Juliet?

Well as luck would have it, when we started dating, Susan had decided she wanted to start trying meat again. (She had made this choice independently before we started dating, I didn’t force it on her.) She was trying chicken and pork. Well, I know an opportunity when I see one, so even though the initial idea wasn’t mine, I began working on this in earnest. And so I began her “re-introduction” into the wonderful world of being a carnivore. As she likes to put it, she’s a “recovering vegetarian,” and I have just the 12-step program for her.

I can’t wait for her to be into foie gras…

The road to bringing meat back into your diet is a slow one, as not everything tastes good or has a texture she’s used to after 20 years without meat. My chicken liver pate was a noted failure for her which I think it will be a few years before she tries again. But she devours mussels with gusto now, and I thought it would be years before she would even think of trying a raw oyster, but she loves those too!

I really thought I was making headway, but I received the ultimate confirmation of this the other night when we went out for our joint birthday dinner. She was perusing the menu, and I pointed out some wonderful vegetarian appetizers I saw, including a delicious sounding goat cheese salad. (Goat cheese being a favorite of both of ours…) She went back and forth for a while, and then asked, “Do you think the Prosciutto and Salami Plate would be good?”

There as a pause at the table, as this was not the question I expected to hear from her.

“Sure, baby, I think it would be wonderful… for me…”

“No, you know I like pork now, and I really like the salamis and such… do you think I should get it?…”

“That’s an awful lot of meat… I mean, it will be delicious, sure, but again, an awful lot of meat…”

I couldn’t believe what was happening. Here was my wonderful love actually offering to order a plate of meat, and nothing but meat, and I was practically talking her out of it! What kind of “carnivore coach” was I? I backed off, and she took the opening, and that’s what she ordered.

As you can see, she was happy with what came.

Best. Fiance. Ever.
(Note: ring is still visible…)

So, has love conquered vegetarianism, or has she just come to see the light?

It doesn’t matter which is the case, the simple fact is, she’s awesome no matter what! 🙂

Chef Matt

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9 Responses to “Love vs. Vegetarianism”

  1. swan says:

    We are, indeed, star-crossed lovers in many ways: carnivore vs herbivore, Virginian vs Marylander, hard rock vs country. At least we have a mutual love of cheese, Italy, and Stevie Wonder!!

    But seriously . . . one of the reasons I started trying animal again–aside from trying to get more protein in my diet–was because I felt I was missing out on a lot. You admit, we go to MANY restaurants and the vegetarian options are limited. (Ahem, entree plate of peas and corn.) I love finding new culinary treats! I try everything, and the things I don’t like don’t kill me (especially when there’s a glass of wine to wash away the taste) and the things I love become instant classics. How could I lose?!

    • Chef Matt says:

      That’s right baby! Keep trying all the good foods out there. I’ll never intentionally steer you the wrong way. 🙂

  2. Kathleen says:

    I totally get your motivation, Susan. I started eating meat again after five years of veg just before my honeymoon. We were going to France, and suddenly I thought: really? I’m going to go to France and not eat foie gras, or pate, or anything else? Then I went right out and got a chicken salad sandwich with bacon.
    That was nine years ago, and I haven’t looked back.
    Congrats you two!

    • Chef Matt says:

      That is where WE’RE going for our honeymoon! I don’t know if I’ll have her converted to foie gras by then, but the great thing is, she’ll be willing to try. At the very least, some nice cheese and charcuterie plates are awaiting us, so we’ll be OK!

  3. Chrissy Auer says:

    Well that seals the deal! Matt you are amazing! It was only this morning that I commented on a post of Susan’s saying that very thing!
    I hope one day we get to meet…. maybe on a trip to Scottsdale!
    Congratulations on finding the love of your life. You both are truly lucky.

    • Chef Matt says:

      Thanks so much! You’re very sweet to say that, and indeed, I too hope we have a chance to meat… ahem, “meet” some day! 🙂

  4. Alejandra says:

    I love this post!

  5. Heidi Gibson says:

    Fiancee?!? Many congratulations to you both. I wish you many years together enjoying meat, vegetables and all the other pleasures in life.