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Living with friends or family who eat meat can be difficult at times. Opening the fridge and seeing a cut up cow can be very upsetting, so I have some tips that have helped my roommates and I deal with the issue of food.

  • Decide what can be shared. I’m ok with my roommates using my plates and eating utensils for their meat-based dishes. I am not, however, comfortable with my pans, cutting boards, and some other kitchen supplies touching animal products. My roommates and I took an hour out of our day to divide the cabinets and shelves among us. We each have a couple of shelves designated for items we don’t mind sharing with others (with permission!) and another couple of shelves for our “off-limits” items.
  • Set up a cooking schedule. The smell of an animal cooking really bothers me and I prefer to not be around when my roommates are making their dinner. Our kitchen is also on the small side and does not fit three adults comfortably at one time. To help with this, we decided to create a cooking schedule. I am generally the first one home so I cook before everyone else. I clean up after myself and then the boys will sometimes cook together. I generally eat with my roommates once they are done cooking. This schedule is obviously not set in stone as our days do fluctuate but it helps us all to have an idea of what to expect each day.
  • Set up boundaries in the fridge and pantry. I firmly think that meat should not be placed on the top shelves of the fridge to prevent the juices from dripping onto items below. This is both a preference I have as a vegan and a health concern. So my roommates and I made some rules for the organization of the food: meat as close to the bottom as possible, our leftovers and excess items in the middle, and everything else (drinks, unused food, condiments, etc.) towards the top and in the door.  This system also makes it easy for us to see what we are running low on and what food might be close to spoiling and needs to be used soon.
  • Label everything! Create a system for labeling your food items. Each of us writes our initials on the food we buy. We frequently share food but labeling it with initials helps in another way: I know that the food I buy is safe for me to eat, but when I see a food item with my roommates’ initials on it I know to be careful about using it. Initials aren’t the only way to label; you have your roommates put a rubber band on items that may contain animal products, label with a “V” for vegan or vegetarian, “O” for omnivore, etc.

And perhaps most importantly…

  • Respect each other. I cannot respect the practice of eating animals and animal products. And though it pains me that these products are so common in our lives, it is hard to get around the fact that these products are culturally acceptable (at least in my culture). And though my roommates take part in this industry, they are not bad people. I respect them though I do not respect their choice. And they respect my choice though they disagree. It is because we respect each that we are able to live together peacefully (for the most part… 😛 ) and found ways to ensure each of us can live with the others comfortably.

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