Do your roommates have diets you’ve never heard of before?

Do your roommates have diets you’ve never heard of before?

How to respect your roomies’ food choices

Moving in with strangers can be challenging when there are as many different diets in the house as there are people. Avoid a tense living situation by understanding each other’s choices and establishing boundaries.

Living together at home, most families either share a diet or are accustomed to other family members’ specific needs. Thus, you may not have much experience actively considering others’ food-related needs. Don’t worry, we have some helpful tips for you!    

Five easy steps to respecting each other’s diets

  1. Start a conversation by calling a house meeting at home or at a restaurant. If it’s not possible for everyone to meet at the same time then speak to each of your housemates individually.
  2. Ask your housemates what their dietary preferences are, if they have any allergies, and if they are for or against sharing certain items such as milk or condiments.
  3. Ask for clarification if you don’t understand something. For example, does someone avoid dairy because they are vegan or because they have an allergy? If they have an allergy, does this mean their plates and pans should be kept separately?
  4. Share your own needs with your housemates and establish clear boundaries if things are important to you.
  5. Be flexible and understanding. If someone makes a mistake, talk it through.
Alora Griffiths | The Ontarion

There will be instances when following these steps doesn’t help the situation. If you’ve tried talking it through and gotten nowhere it may be best to purchase a mini refrigerator for your room and keep your kitchen things in your room as well. You might feel like a weird hoarder for a term or two but if that’s what it takes for you to feel comfortable in your new home, that’s totally okay.

Usually, when people aren’t respectful of others’ diets it’s because they don’t really understand them. Here are some points to help if you’re having trouble understanding what your new housemate is talking about.

INTOLERANCE VS. ALLERGY

Being lactose intolerant is really different from having a dairy allergy. The former can cause gas while the latter can send someone into anaphylactic shock.

Alora Griffiths | The Ontarion

GLUTEN

Many people are gluten free due to gluten intolerance. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley.

PESCATARIAN

Alora Griffiths | The Ontarion
  • No meat
  • No poultry

Pescatarian diets are like vegetarian diets but include fish and seafood.

PALEO

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  • No dairy
  • No grains
  • No legumes
  • No refined sugar
  • No alcohol
  • Limited potatoes
  • Limited eggs
  • Limited dried fruit

Paleo is short for Paleolithic and is thought to be similar to the diet of “cavemen.” The paleo diet emphasizes using healthy oils like coconut oil and mostly consists of lean meat and poultry, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and seeds.

VEGAN

  • No dairy
  • No meat
  • No fish
  • No poultry
  • No animal byproducts (for example, eggs and honey)

Veganism also extends to one’s clothing — for example, a leather belt wouldn’t be acceptable under a vegan lifestyle.

Alora Griffiths | The Ontarion

VEGETARIAN

Alora Griffiths | The Ontarion
  • No meat
  • No fish
  • No poultry

Most people who follow a vegetarian diet are ovo-lacto vegetarians, which means they eat eggs and dairy products. Some vegetarians may not eat eggs; this does not make them vegan because they still eat dairy products. People often incorrectly assume that vegetarians eat fish or any seafood.

RELIGIOUS RESTRICTIONS

  • Pork is not consumed in religions such as Islam and Judaism because pork is considered to be unclean.
  • Beef is not consumed in religions such as Hinduism because cows are considered to be sacred.
  • Onions, garlic, potatoes, and eggplant are excluded in a Jain vegetarian diet because they are thought to cause lethargy.
  • Sometimes meat needs to be killed according to religious standards as is the case with kosher meat in Judaism or halal meat in Islam.
  • Sometimes certain foods can’t be eaten together, such as milk and meat in Judaism.

These are just few of the more common diets you may come across.

Whatever the diet is, it’s important to respect each other when it comes to food.

Eating together forms strong bonds and is a great opportunity to learn about cultural differences and experience something new.

The next time you’re in charge of ordering the pizza don’t just get pepperoni because “everyone likes pepperoni” — ask your housemates what they want; this small considerate gesture may lead you to a great new friend.

Photo courtesy of Alora Griffiths/The Ontarion.