"Marriage is about compromise," says Glue and Glitter's Becky Striepe."That applies as much to what's on our plates as it does what color we paint the living room." Striepe, Veggie Queen Jill Nussinow and I are all dedicated vegans married to -- gasp -- omnivores.Ivy Manning, whose award-winning cookbooks include "Weeknight Vegetarian" and "Adaptable Feast," about feeding a multivore crowd, is the omnivore in her marriage to a vegetarian she affectionately calls Mr. Tofu. This is not about us making our spouses see the meatless light. This is how we work it out.
We don't harangue each other over food choices. Other things, sure, but not that."What people eat -- that's up to them," says Nussinow, author of new "Vegan Under Pressure." Our partners may not eat the way we do, but they support our decision and they support us. "I wouldn't have married someone who didn't respect my beliefs, food-related or otherwise," says Striepe. If you criticize or attack each other's food choices, I'd suggest you have issues other than dietary. As Dr. David Katz puts it, "Diets divide us."
Meals are more fun when everyone can enjoy them. Together. Make the focus of the meal something everyone can eat. "Chili, beans and rice, tofu and vegetables," suggests Nussinow. Big flavors like Manning's majorly umami mushroom pate or solid comfort like Striepe's shepherds' pie (no sheep required) satisfy everyone and mean omnivores won't miss the meat. In other words, meals are vegan, with an occasional side of meat or cheese for them's that eats 'em. More about that here on April 18, when I feature Anna Thomas and her new book, "Vegan, Vegetarian, Omnivore."
Look, cooking's what we do. It's where the personal and professional intersect for us. But whatever your culinary skill set or food choice, placing value on whole foods and the time it takes to source and prepare them tends to produce meals that don't suck.
We like to socialize. For parties, we usually bring something vegan everyone can share. Nussinow's curried pear and squash soup "has become a family favorite." Dining out, she suggests going ethnic. "Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian have options that suit most people." I find if I call ahead and give the restaurant a vegan heads-up, the kitchen's glad to accommodate me, That said, we've all endured some meager meals. We deal with it. But it pisses off Manning off.
"There's hundreds of vegetables, it's not hard!" she wails. "We just dined at Farm Spirit. Chef Aaron Adams can cook 12 courses, all vegan, with nearly all local ingredients and no animal products. and they are on par with any Michelin-star restaurant. So if he can do that, why can't other restaurants put more than just one phoned-in veggie risotto on the menu?"
Over time, all the omnivores have come to lean towards meatlessness, It's not because their vegan partners are awesome, (although we are). They've come to it through their own personal, gradual process -- involving lots of good food. "Between being assigned more vegetarian recipe development gigs and simply choosing to eat less meat for health and ethical reasons, I'm definitely leaning more towards vegetarian every day," says Manning. "I feel better. "
So does Nussinow's husband. "But he still hates mushrooms, doesn't like tempeh and will only tolerate Brussels sprouts." Hey, what relationship isn't a work in progress? It means more Brussels sprouts for Nussinow. And if she eats a few of his French fries, "it's OK." Call it crazy love.
Vegan Shepherd's Pie Recipe with Kale
Recipe used with permission from Glue and Glitter.
4 small potatoes, cooked
3/4 cup unsweetened soy or almond milk
2 to 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 additional tablespoons for olive oil, to saute
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 block firm or extra firm tofu, drained, pressed and diced
1 bunch dinosaur kale, chopped
1/2 cup dinosaur corn kernels - fresh, frozen, or canned is fine
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup water
cube vegetable bouillon (low sodium is fine, if you prefer)
2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, mash the potatoes with the soy milk, the 2 to 4 tablespoons olive oil, nutritional yeast, and garlic powder. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.
In a Dutch oven or large ovenproof caserole, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium high heat. Add the onions, carrots, and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions start to brown, about 5 minutes.
Add diced tofu.
Cook for a few minutes, then add the remaining ingredients. Give everything a good stir, cover the pot, reduce the heat to medium low, and let everything simmer for 5 to 7 minutes or until the kale turns bright green and start to wilt.
Turn off the heat. Using the back of spoon, smooth and pat down the veggie-tofu mixture. Top with mashed potatoes and spread to cover.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the potatoes start to brown on top. Let the shepherd's pie rest for about 10 minutes before serving.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
More at soulfulvegan.com.