Sometimes your body needs some iron, so do it a favour and make this
vegan, iron-rich, kale tahini rice bowl.
I recently attended a meet-up of awesome individuals with Emily from This Rawsome Vegan Life at King’s Café in Kensington Market. It’s always fun to meet up with new vegans and see what their experience is like. Everyone has a different vegan journey, and it’s so interesting to hear about the path they took to be where they are today. The topic of dating and partners came up, and the fact that Burrito Boy isn’t vegan came up.
“What’s that like? You know, dating someone who isn’t vegan?”
There are so many people who feel super mixed about the idea of vegans dating non-vegans. There are tons of vegans who are very aggressive and frankly a little offensive about how they “could never kiss someone who had willingly consumed the flesh of a murdered being”. There are very few of us who were born and raised vegan. We all have to start somewhere. With that said, I didn’t go into my relationship hoping to convert Burrito Boy.
Personally, I think dating as a vegan can be a form of activism. Not only can you educate people on how veganism is a compassionate lifestyle, but you can also help break down the stereotype that vegans are militant, angry people when you meet their family and friends. Besides, limiting yourself to a certain group of people doesn’t mean you’ll find someone who suits you. You can choose who you date, but you can’t really choose who you fall in love with. Just because two people are vegan doesn’t mean they’ll get along.
But an ongoing concern that vegans have about dating non-vegans is whether or not their partner will support their ethics or lifestyle. Whether or not someone supports you and how you live your life boils down to whether or not your partner actually cares about you and respects you.
Before Burrito Boy met me, he had never really known anyone vegetarian, let alone vegan. I can’t remember exactly what he said when I asked him what his first impression of me was after he found out that I was vegan, but I think it was something along the lines of a shrug plus “I dunno if that was gonna work out, but you seemed cool.” As we were going out, he’d ask me whether or not something was vegan before giving it to me. He’d let me pick the restaurant anytime we were going out, or he’d double check that I’d have something to eat if we were going to a restaurant of someone else’s choice. Aside from the fact that he’s both indecisive and easy-going, he’s always really accommodating of my plant-eatin’ ways.
On his birthday, he really wanted to go to Tucker’s Marketplace (basically white-people food buffet) and while he enjoyed his meal, he was really concerned that I didn’t have much to eat there. The amount of concern he had for my general well-being and food options was really sweet and surprising because I had never encountered that before. I’ve always been fiercely independent and it’s weird to have someone who takes care of me, especially on their birthday.
If you’re dating someone who respects, cares, and understands you, whether or not they are vegan is irrelevant. If you give them the same respect in regards to their eating habits, they’ll do the same for you. If your end goal is to have a completely plant-based family, then maybe take that into consideration when you’re looking for love. I mean, I’d be over the moon if Burrito Boy were vegan, but he’s not and I accept that. The thing that’s important to me is that he’s open-minded about eating and living vegan. He just wants to make sure that I’m healthy and happy. Since I do 90% of the cooking, he ends up eating vegan when he’s with me anyway.
And while Burrito Boy loves his meaty burritos and other non-vegan things, he’s always pretty open-minded about my healthier food. I’m 90% sure he had never had whole chickpeas, tahini, or kale before, and especially not in this form. We went for a hike and I brought these bowls for a picnic at the top, and he optimistically obliged and ate the rice bowl.
“This is a whole lot of stuff I’ve never had before,” he remarked between forkfuls.
“What do you think? Do you like it?” I probed.
“…It’s a lot of chewing. But it’s pretty good.”
Every time I looked at him while he was eating, he had this sort of defeated look on his face as he chewed each mouthful. I had to laugh because he said it tasted good, but he wasn’t used to eating hearty, leafy greens.
“I like spinach better,” he added.
In hindsight, I should have steamed the kale a bit in the pan so it was a bit more tender, but I like the hearty chew that kale has. Burrito Boy has since eaten kale with tahini sauce again, so I think it’s safe to say that it’s BB-approved.
I made this meal just before “shark week”, when my body was craving iron and carbs. The Vitamin C from the lemon juice allows your body to better absorb the non-heme iron from the kale, chickpeas, and tahini. Protein from the hearty greens, chickpeas, and brown rice keeps you full and satisfied. PLUS it’s colouful so it’s a feast for the eyes.
What do you think? Are any of you plant-based and dating non-vegans? Or vice versa? Sometimes my friends are dating vegetarians or vegans and they come to my blog for recipes to make for their partners (which is pretty rad btw. Go friends!)
Vegan Iron-Rich Kale Tahini Rice Bowl
For the tahini sauce:
- 1/4 cup tahini (ground sesame paste)
- 2 tbsp tamari (or to taste, I don't like my food that salty)
- 1 lemon, juiced (3-4 tbsp, but you can do this to taste. I love lemon a lot)
- 3 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Optional: cayenne pepper powder or hot sauce for extra oomph
- 1 cup of steamed brown rice per serving
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 2 cups of fresh kale
- a pinch of salt (to taste)
- 1 squeeze of lemon (about 1/2 tsp of juice for the kale)
- 1/4 cup cooked and drained chickpeas
- 1/2 carrot, peeled and grated
- Hemp seeds
- Toasted sesame seeds
- Nutritional Yeast
- Cook the rice (I use a rice cooker).
- Grate the carrots.
- Strip the kale, tear it into bite sized pieces, wash well, and all that jazz.
- Whisk all ingredients together for the tahini sauce. Adjust according to taste (add more tamari if you like it saltier, less lemon juice if you don't like it as tangy). Set aside.
- To sauté the kale, preheat a skillet to medium heat. Add 1 tsp oil and kale and sauté until soft. If you want it a little more tender, add some water once the heat gets going to steam the kale in the pan. Remove from heat and finish with a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon juice to keep it perky and green.
To assemble the bowl:
- Layer the brown rice on the bottom.
- Arrange sautéed kale, chickpeas, and carrot, then drizzle about 2 tbsp of tahini sauce on top. Garnish with hemp seeds, toasted sesame seeds, or whatever your heart desires.
When my boyfriend and I first started dating, I was vegetarian and he supported it 100%. About a year and a half ago, I made the decision to switch to veganism and he still supports me, to the point that when any of his or my family and friends say anything about or question it, he defends my choice right along with me. When it comes to eating, we sit down together going through all the cookbooks that I’ve bought or blogs that I follow and we pick meals out together. He actually ends up doing the majority of cooking and he loves doing it. And on the times that he does want to cook and eat meat, he tries to do it while I’m not home so that I don’t have to deal with the smell. On the rare occasion that I am home when he wants to cook it, he apologizes profusely, opening windows and turning the kitchen fan on. So, in my opinion, dating and living with an omnivore can totally work, you definitely got it right by saying that they need to respect your choices. If he wasn’t behind me as much as he was, it would definitely put a strain on our relationship.
Lisa Le says
Your partner sounds very supportive and open-minded! That’s awesome that he loves to cook, lucky you ;) Burrito Boy doesn’t mind cooking, but he doesn’t like getting in my way. He is an excellent sous-chef though!
I totally agree, it’s more about being openminded and respectful, than whether you share the exact same diet/beliefs.
I was engaged to an omnivore, who, among many issues, did not respect my being vegetarian. He constantly harped on me to eat “healthier” (while eating deli meat sandwiches himself…). On the other hand, my now-husband is a “flexitarian”, and even though he eats veg at home, it’s for different reasons than me. But he respects why I eat what I eat, and that’s totally what makes the difference.
Lisa Le says
Yes, I’ve dated an omnivore who was sort of supportive, but then he’d make sort of hurtful comments or reactions to certain situations where veganism was relevant (what we were having for dinner, going out with friends, etc.). After meeting Burrito Boy, I’ve learned that just because someone isn’t eating the same way as you, doesn’t mean you have to feel like a social outcast about it. Thank you for sharing your experience with being with omnivores!
looks great! i’ve been looking for a great tahini sauce recipe (i like the 3:6:9 from Fresh and want to find a look-alike :)
Lisa Le says
Thanks Laura! I actually have never had the 3:6:9 dressing, but this one is a regular favourite =)
Kathleen Henry @ Produce On Parade says
That’s so awesome you got to meet up with Emily! Dang, I wish I was over there too! How neat :) I loved this post, it was so open and thought-provoking. Todd of course is vegan so I don’t know what it would be like be with a non-vegan person. I do love it when my friends order vegan food as well at a restaurant, that’s always kind of cool. It’s so funny about BB and the chewing thing. That’s is Todd’s biggest complaint all the time…too much chewing, haha! Who says that?!
Lisa Le says
Hahah yeah it was really fun to get to know Emily. You two are on the same coast! Maybe you should hang =)
And yeah, I mean, one of the biggest things that turned me off meat in the first place was how chewy it was. I would rather chew a pound of kale than a steak any day! The only thing I don’t like about it is when it gets stuck in my teeth XD. But BB has opened my eyes to how much people like to eat soft food. Soft sandwiches, soft burritos, soft mashed potatoes. GIMME TEXTURE, PEOPLE! I NEED MY CRUNCH!
Ana @ Ana's Rocket Ship says
I don’t have a boyfriend yet – but when I do I hope he’s as cool as Burrito Boy. I think that for me – I’d rather have someone who loved me completely and supported me but was not veggie/vegan – than to ‘choose’ someone specifically because they were – but to have a horrible time overall because we had no other common factors.
I’m not a vegan, but my sister had a stroke a few years ago and after a lot of doctors visits and stuff eventually decided to become vegan. She’s actually an amazing athlete and was training for a triathlon when the stroke happened, so she wasn’t exactly eating badly before, but now it’s completely different. Anyway, because she’s doing it then I’m trying to be supportive and find new recipes that I’d eat that are also vegan. I’ve found a butter replacement that is amazing and not like 100 dollars, but there are a few things I haven’t found yet. I’m not brave enough to enter the world of vegan cheese yet. I have found that sweet potato is way more versatile than I ever have it credit for and so a nice hearty vegan stew it something is still possible. I even made Christmas dinner half vegan half not where people could add cheese or choose not to if they wanted and they could choose the fish dish or not to take any and surprisingly even some of the totally dedicated nest eaters at the table ate 3rds and there was meat left over, but the vegan foods were gone with people asking for recipes. It is possible to coexist and do it well.
Lisa Le says
That’s an amazing example of peaceful omni and vegan coexistence!! I love it. The vegan cheese world is starting to snowball and come up with AMAZING plant-based cheeses! I am always passionate about finding new cheeses, so feel free to reach out if you ever have questions! I’ve discussed it a couple times on the Toronto Vegetarian Association Podcast if you ever want to check it out (I think it’s named vegan cheeses, it was a couple months ago ^^;)
Hi five for your Burrito Boy he sounds like a lovely fella!
Thanks for the recipe, I have some tahini so I will try that.
Hi Lisa, in your video the garbanzo beans look like they’ve been treated… maybe roasted? But that’s not indicated in the recipe. Could you clarify how you treat your garbanzos?
Lisa Le says
Hi! I thiiink i made them like in this recipe?