You say he meets you where you are, so you might have to meet him where he is (on a barren plateau, eating reindeer jerky.)
You say he meets you where you are, so you might have to meet him where he is (on a barren plateau, eating reindeer jerky.)

KaiJune 20, 2024

Help Me Hera: I need my partner to eat some goddamn veges

You say he meets you where you are, so you might have to meet him where he is (on a barren plateau, eating reindeer jerky.)
You say he meets you where you are, so you might have to meet him where he is (on a barren plateau, eating reindeer jerky.)

I’m a vegan who adores vegetables and he’s a big meat-eater totally suspicious of them. Help me!

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Kia ora Hera,

I need my partner to eat some vegetables and I don’t know how.

I have a lovely partner: he’s caring, supportive and meets me where I’m at. But I can’t get over the fact he’s afraid of vegetables.

I adore vegetables. There’s nothing quite like crispy roast potatoes, or charred cabbage, or fresh peas, or deep-fried cauliflower. At dinner parties, I’m known for making kickass salads, baking delicious cakes with parsnips and making mousse with an avocado. So alongside being vegan, vegetables really are the heart of my cooking and wellbeing.

My partner, on the other hand, is very dubious of vegetables. He’s a big meat-eater and he genuinely accepts my dietary requirements but I can’t help but long for the day that I can cook some delicious vegetables and share them with him.

Don’t get me wrong, I know vegetables have their limits – I’ve brined a carrot into a hotdog before and been miserably disappointed (my fellow vegans are actually lying about that!), so I’ll go easy on him, but I don’t know what else to do but resort to blending them into juice or hiding them in sauces. Help me!

I also think it’s important to note his palate is quite minimal. For instance, Indian food used to terrify him and now he eats butter chicken because of me. It was a big win.

With love,

Veggie Lover

A line of dark blue card suit symbols – hearts, clubs, diamonds and spades

Dear Veggie Lover,

Food. It contains nutrients. You have to eat it to survive. Every day. For the rest of your natural life. Until they invent A Special Pill! 

You’d think given our tendency towards long-term monogamous cohabitation, it would be a more common relationship issue. But nobody thinks about the practicalities until they’re already in love, and giving up their breakfast chicken seems a small price to pay for lasting companionship. 

Most people have a few items of food they hate, but generally there’s enough of an overlap that a compromise is easy to manage. If your partner has an aversion to something it’s not too much of a hardship to eat it when they’re out of town. But you two couldn’t be more dietarily opposed. You’re a vegan vegetable lover who thinks parsnip is a worthy addition to cake, and he eats like he’s Jordan Peterson on Jordan Peterson’s All Beef Diet.  

Not an appealing prospect for everyone. (Photo: Getty)

As a vegetable lover, I feel your pain! Not only does your boyfriend’s hatred of vegetables limit your ability to enjoy a simple meal together, but cooking is obviously something you get a lot of joy from. It’s sad to think you can’t share your hobby with your partner without making him gag. For some people this would be a deal-breaker, especially if you were thinking about moving in together, having kids, or even travelling. Some people live to snack, and the idea of going to Japan and not visiting every convenience store under the sun is too much of a compromise. 

But you don’t want to break up. You just want him to eat vegetables. Is such a thing possible? 

The short answer is: it depends. If he’s a bit fussy, but generally open to trying new things, you might be able to shift his position over time. He’s probably never going to be chairman of the marrow association, so I wouldn’t get overly optimistic, but you might be able to make some traction. But if he has a genuine, deep disgust of vegetables, you’re fighting a losing battle. 

The fact that you managed to win him over to butter chicken is a good sign. It means he’s willing to try foods he’s suspicious of. Trying to repress the involuntary feeling of revulsion while allowing yourself to experience something new is the hardest part of overcoming culinary dislikes, so there’s definitely hope for him. 

For people who reject entire categories of food, the issue often has more to do with texture than taste. If you can figure out exactly what he hates – the sliminess of certain vegetables, or the cooking method – you might be able to make some progress. You say he hates roast potatoes, but will he eat fries? Does temperature or sweetness or seasoning make a difference? Under no circumstances should you hide vegetables in his meal because that’s only going to increase his food-related paranoia. But you should drill down into his specific dislikes, and try working around those until you’ve developed a stronger baseline. 

Basically, I think it’s worth a try. But I wouldn’t try too hard. Nobody likes dating a missionary. People don’t get into relationships looking to be reformed. It’s hard to get over foods you dislike and most people have no interest in doing so. There are one or two foods I would only eat at gunpoint. A nice, cool, crisp apple? Revolting. Someone jauntily eating an apple on public transport, with their smug, self-satisfied crunching? I’d rather sit next to a public masturbator. If anyone hid apple slices in my salad, I’d be as offended as if they were razor blades. 

It’s easy to roll our eyes at picky eaters and make snide comments about those who subsist entirely on chicken nuggets. But the reality is people who have strong food dislikes and textural aversions have intensely difficult lives. For most of us, mealtime is a pleasure. For some people it’s torture. And you can’t just opt out of eating, no matter how many Flintstones vitamins you take. 

Outside of ethical considerations, like buying free-range eggs, there’s no point ascribing moral virtue to liking or disliking particular foods. As a vegan dating a carnivore, you don’t sound particularly judgemental. But many people would consider veganism picky eating. Your objection to meat and dairy may be on moral grounds, but your partner is also compromising for you. He’ll never be able to take you to the Wisconsin cheese festival or cook you a steak the size of a toilet seat. You say he meets you where you are, so you might have to meet him where he is, which is apparently on a barren plateau, eating reindeer jerky. 

It’s worth having a think about whether this is sustainable for you. If he truly never eats another vegetable in his life, would it be a deal-breaker? Are you happy cooking separate meals for the rest of your life? As a food lover, it’s a huge compromise to make. People have broken up for dumber reasons, and it sounds like the situation could quickly become tiresome for you. 

Still, it’s worth trying a few things first. But my advice is to go slow, and start with potato rosti. Leave the twice-brined carrots for another day.

Keep going!