For other teen FAQs, check out: http://www.vrg.org/teen/
How can you peacefully share a kitchen space with non-vegetarians?
Moving into a place with new people, whether they are your friends or people you’ve never met before, can be hard, especially if they are new to the concept of vegetarianism. How can you explain to them what your boundaries are, and how can you respect theirs? After a year at college, living with three people, I have some advice to offer on peaceful cohabitation:
Decide what your boundaries are, within reasonable limits:
- What are you comfortable with? If you’re sharing dishes and kitchenware, make a set of rules that everyone can follow, like, “If you use my pot to cook meat in, please clean it yourself afterwards,” or “Please mark things in the fridge that aren’t vegetarian.” If your requests seem arbitrary to them, then explain, politely, why you feel that way. One analogy that I’ve found works well is telling them to act as if you’re “allergic” to animal products.
Keep communication open, and be polite:
- If something comes up that you’re not happy with, let them know. If one of my roommates forgot to clean a dish of mine after cooking with meat on it, I gently reminded her, and no one ever made the same mistake twice.
Respect their food:
- However you personally feel about meat, what they do in the kitchen is their business. Moralizing about the ethics of eating animals is not something your roommates should have to hear every time they sit down to dinner. Telling them that the steak they’re about to enjoy might shorten their lifespan isn’t likely to do anything but annoy them. There’s a time and a place for arguments, and it’s not at the dinner table.
- Nothing breeds converts like showing people how tasty animal-free food can be. If you have time, bake some vegan cookies and put them out for the people you’re living with. You can find lots of recipes online here: http://www.vrg.org/journal/index.htm#Recipes
As long as you and your roommates are willing to respect each other and open about how you’d like to keep the kitchen, living together isn’t really that difficult. It may take a few weeks for them to remember your system, but above all, be patient. A little positivity can go a long way!
Written by Rebecca Kaplan while interning with VRG