Coming to college, I had no idea who my random roommates would be. They could’ve been the best people in the world or absolute terrors straight from a horror movie. Thankfully, they weren’t so bad. The biggest obstacle I had to face was learning how to live with my vegetarian roommate.
As someone who had never lived with vegetarians or really befriended any, I wasn’t familiar with the lifestyle or how to work with it. After living with my vegetarian roommate for the last 2 years, I think I’ve finally figured it out. Here are 6 tips for other omnivores living with herbivores:
1. Ask what they’re comfortable with.
There are different levels of vegetarianism. Some people are comfortable seeing and even touching meat, while others can’t stand the smell. Check with your roommates to see what end of the spectrum they’re on, and be considerate. If they don’t want to see raw chicken, warn them when you’re cooking.
2. Use a separate cutting board and knife for meats.
Don’t cross-contaminate! This is a good rule of thumb whether or not you live with a vegetarian, but it’s especially important when you do. If someone doesn’t want to eat meat, they sure as hell don’t want remnants of raw meat or blood anywhere near their fruits and veggies.
3. Allocate fridge space for each person.
If you share a refrigerator, block out sections for meats. I recommend a lower shelf because you don’t want dirty water dripping onto someone else’s produce when you’re defrosting meat. Having separate sections also makes it easier for your resident vegetarian to avoid looking at raw meat.
4. Have different sets of pots, pans, and dishes.
Similar to using a separate cutting board and knife for meats, it’s better to have a different set of cookware for veggies only. Label them with a sticker or buy a different design so it’s easy to tell them apart.
5. Check for hidden ingredients.
It’s easy to forget that something isn’t vegetarian when there isn’t obviously meat in it. Soups tend to fall into this category since they don’t always have meat in them, but are often made with meat stock. Lard is also typically considered non-vegetarian because it’s made out of pig fat.
6. Be respectful.
No matter how much you love bacon, don’t try to convince your roommates to eat it. Respect their decision, and never shove meat in their face. Don’t even give them a chicken salad after taking the chicken off. It’s not the same.
It might take a few tries to get it right. But I promise that your vegetarian roommates and friends will truly appreciate the effort you put in to make them feel comfortable.