Learning to compromise: No meat on the shelves in two thousand twelve

When I started this blog about 6 months ago following our wedding, I wanted to prove a point. That two people of different backgrounds, along with their families and communities, can all get along. J and I have a mixed marriage in pretty much every sense of the term . . .  mixed race and mixed religion to start. He was born and grew up in the ‘burbs, I grew up in the city. His family is small and close. My family is huge and spread throughout the world. And do we all get along? YES!

In the beginning, some family members and friends asked me if either of us were going to convert to which I answered “Why?” So far J and I have lived happily together and balanced the ships of our cultures and religions like masterful sea captains. Sometimes he wears a kepah and I wear a sari. I love latkes and he loves mango lassis. He has a Bollywood station on his Pandora and I have a klezmer station on mine. For our trip, he has learned many Bengali phrases and I like to use Yiddish in my classroom. We have a love for each other and each other’s cultures.

We’ve also made compromises. For example, we have accepted the fact that our social calendars for the months of September, October and most of November are permanently booked for the rest of our lives. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good celebration, but this year I celebrated two Thanksgivings, 2 festivals of light (Diwali and Hanukah), three independence days: America, India and Bangladesh, and three New Years (Rosh Hashanna, Bengali New Year AKA Pohela Boishakh and January 1st). And let’s not forget Yom Kippur and Durga Puja. Also with lots of close Muslim friends and being bike enthusiasts, there is Eid (sometimes, depending on the lunar calendar) the MS150, and the training rides that go along with it. On a side note, this is all a good thing because the biking is necessary to burn off the food we indulge on during Eid and the Jewish holidays. But this only occurs for a fraction of the year and does not affect our daily lives, so we take it all in stride.

What does affect our daily lives? Food. The toughest thing, not for me but for him perhaps is to be with someone who eats meat. I am someone who kept a rotisserie chicken in her fridge and loved Korean barbecue. When I used the slow cooker in the house to make my black bean and turkey chili, he dejectedly said, “the house smells like meat.” Overall he has been very non-judgemental about it so I’m not stopping eating meat for him. What has influenced me though, is a book I read on our 24-hour plane journey.

During our desh journey, J let me read Why we love dogs, eat pigs, and wear cows on his Kindle. I can’t eat meat anymore after that . . .

I’m not going full vegetarian just yet, and don’t know if I ever will. So for now I’m a pescatarian. Hey, I’m Bengali! So when we got back to Philly last Friday, I bagged all the meat we have in our freezer and am planning on giving it to our friend’s bull mastiff.

For our first grocery trip since getting back, I wasn’t tempted while walking past the meat. When I saw the bacon next to the eggs, instead of thinking yumm, I thought about the slaughterhouse worker who beat the squealing pig, cut its snout off, and rubbed salt on it because he was angry. When walking past the rotisserie chickens I thought about the hormones injected in them and the overcrowded cages they live in and how their beaks are cut off.

For some people, living in a household with varying dietary preferences is no big deal. Take for example my mom’s scientist neighbor. She and everyone else in her family ate meat until she started doing her grad school work which involved dissecting mice. The experience grossed her out that she gave up eating all meat at once. She still cooks meat for her husband and two boys though, as she prepares vegetarian meals for herself. Also, in 2008 the New York Times posited the question are inter-dietary relationships possible? The answer according to those interviewed, is maybe.

People say that in mixed marriages, one ideology usually dominates. One person in the relationship usually converts, either for personal reasons, outside pressure or convenience. As for me, I am going to change my subhead to “Can a vegetarian Jewish guy and a pescatarean desi girl live happily together?”

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