First, let it be said that it’s completely possible for a vegan and a carnivore to be able to live together in perfect roommate harmony. These diet-discordant roommate couples have found work-arounds to make amends with their clashing lifestyles and remain great roommates. That being said, many vegans prefer to live exclusively with other vegans or vegetarians in an accepting environment that supports their vegan lifestyle without having to worry about double checking the ingredients of every product.
What Exactly is Vegan?
Although veganism is already pretty mainstream, to the uninitiated, the term vegan may be a little confusing. Just so all the curious carnivores are clear on what it is to be vegan, Wikipedia defines veganism as:
Veganism/ˈviːɡənɪzəm/ is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, as well as following an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of sentient animals. A follower of veganism is known as a vegan
Basically, if it comes from an animal, you shouldn’t eat it. This includes all meats, dairy products, and many vegans even reject eating honey.
What Do Vegans Eat?
Contrary to what many carnivores think about vegans, it’s not all about eating french fries and salad. Vegans have a rich variety of dishes that they can eat without worrying about animal products. In many cases, simple vegan-friendly replacements exist for every day items. Certain ethnic foods, such as Indian cuisine, feature a wide variety of dishes that are completely meat free.
Vegan Milk Alternatives
Instead of cow milk, vegans opt for soy milk, almond milk, and other vegan non-dairy milks. Many carnivores, especially people who are lactose intolerant, also find that this is easier on the stomach and leaves them less bloated. Soy milk is high in protein, lactose free, and after getting used to the taste, many soy-milk drinkers never go back to dairy milk.
Vegan cheeses, many coming from tapioca, are great for slipping in a sandwich or topping your perfect vegan pizza. The cheeses even come in different vegan varieties like cheddar, mozzarella and pepperjack.
Vegan Meat Alternatives
From vegan burgers to vegan chopped meat and everything in between, there is a clever alternative to eating meat. These plant-based meat replacements are high in protein and taste great. The interwebs are bursting with delicious recipes on how to make succulent and satisfying meat-free dishes with vegan heavy-hitters like tofu, seitan, umami and shitake mushrooms, beans, legumes, lentils and more.
Vegan Honey Alternatives
Carnivores and even some vegetarians may be surprised at this one, but many vegans abstain from eating honey. Among vegans there is even a vegan honey debate whether or not it’s ok to consume the bee-byproduct sweetener. If your vegan roommate avoids honey, aside from plain old sugar and artificial sweeteners, there are mouth-watering alternatives for sweetening your tea. Popular in Israel and parts of the Middle East, Silan, also called “date honey,” is made completely from dates and has a similar consistency and sweetness to honey.
Should I Live with a Vegan Roommate?
Many vegans prefer to live exclusively with other vegans and vegetarians. Tomer Versano from New York, a self-described ethical vegan for about ten years and vegetarian for almost twenty, lives with a vegan roommate. For him, living with a vegan is a more natural and comfortable situation. In Tomer’s words:
After living most of my life with non-veg people I found that living with a vegan roommate in an all vegan household (vegan food, clothing, cosmetics) is the perfect situation for me and I don’t see myself ever turning back. The fact that I can consume and use each and every product in my house without double checking the ingredients has changed my life tremendously. We have a vegan cat and a vegan dog that are both healthy and happy.
Vegans like Tomer feel strongly about their choice to be vegan and would not want to have any animal-derived foods in the home. As an extension of their lifestyle, they may even keep their pets on a vegan diet. Vegans like Tomer will feel most comfortable sharing a home and a kitchen with another vegan or at least a vegetarian.
Regardless of your choice to live with a vegan roommate, either as a meat-eater or another vegan, your living arrangement should be built on honesty and expectations up front. Before moving in together, it’s important to be honest about dietary expectations and which food items each roommate would be most comfortable with.
Making a Vegan Non-Vegan Roommate Relationship Work
There are lots of situations where vegans end up shacking up with carnivores. Sometimes one roommate decides to go vegan and the other one doesn’t, but after already having built a healthy roommate relationship, they decide to continue living together. Diet-conflicted roommates may not exclusively define their personality as being vegan and can be like-minded in other ways such as musicians, programmers, or unicorn hunters.
Seperate Vegan Dishes and Cookware
This following question about Vegan Roommates on Quora gives a taste of what vegan-carnivore roommates should consider: “If my vegetarian/vegan roommate doesn’t want to use kitchen supplies with which meat is prepared and made, who should pay for the new stuff?”
Venkatesh Rao answers:
As a vegetarian, and near-vegan who has been in this situation, I’d expect to be the one buying/maintaining veggie-exclusive equipment. That’s what I’ve done. Where possible vegetarians/vegans try their best to live with others with the same diet. I lived in a vegan co-op for 2 years. It’s for the best.
I am not anal about it, but if I know cookware has been used with meat, I generally won’t use it. At restaurants or in others homes, I generally am able to suspend my meat-dar.
It has nothing to do with logic or the physics of food stickiness. If you’ve grown up that way, you have a visceral psychological aversion to mixed kitchens. It isn’t religious either. It’s the reaction meat-eaters have to the gross-out eating challenges on reality shows like Fear Factor, but more sensitive.
Many of my older relatives won’t even eat in restaurants that maintain separate veg/non-veg sides of the sort Jonas mentions. They’ll only eat food out of pure vegetarian kitchens.
People who go vegetarian/vegan later in life for consciously processed reasons tend not to have this deep aversion we born-vegetarian people do.
If in the middle of living together, one roommate decides that they would like to change their dietary lifestyle, each roommate should try and accommodate in their best way. In most cases the burden falls on the roommate who changes from the initial expectations when you went into being roommates together.
Urble is all about finding like-minded roommates for better living, and vegans can easily find other vegans and vegetarian roommates who are in tune with a vegan lifestyle. If you’re a vegan or vegetarian who would prefer to live with other’s that follow the same diet, make sure to tag yourself “vegan” and search for “vegans” under “diet” in the Urble advanced search box.