Max: When I met Max he was a lanky, at 6’2”, 145-pound doctoral student, his stomach so concave his torso resembled a giant comma. On our first dinner date, at an Italian restaurant, we ordered pizza: half plain cheese (him), half pepperoni (me). He was the first guy who bought me wine with dinner, a bottle of Mateus. (I was 20-years old). Afterwards, I called my mother and asked, “do you think I can be in love with a man who doesn’t like to eat?”

My future husband’s taste buds had stopped evolving around age five. His favorite food was pizza (cheese, no toppings). He ate well-done (burnt) lamb chops, well-done-chicken (breast only), well-done brisket (end-cut), well-done steak, coconut doughnuts, ice cream (vanilla) no vegetables, no fruit. When my mother told me, “he’ll change,” I didn’t believe her. It took years, but she was right.

Max learned to eat when I learned to cook. We’d been married a decade. While he was on a 6-month Fellowship in California, and I stayed in Illinois to work on my dissertation, I decided to experiment with vegetarianism. By the time Max returned, I was a decent vegetarian cook. He ate meat out of the house for a couple months, but soon came to realize the food was better at home. Thirty years later, Max stopped eating dairy. And I learned how to cook without it.

Max’s favorite meal is still pizza, which he makes with vegan salami, a product he learned about in his role as an investor in vegan start-up companies. His favorite restaurant is Millennium (Oakland, CA), where his favorite menu item is crispy mushrooms – a food he definitely would not have eaten as a 22-year old. He claims he still hates vinegar and mustard, but he can’t get enough of my caesar salad dressing, which uses both.


Becca, a black lab mix dog, yawningBecca: Becca is a very good dog. She eats Purina dog food, squirrel and rabbit poop (when she can find it), and everything Max feeds her (bad husband!) from the table, except lettuce and corn on the cob. Though it’s possible (perhaps even healthier) for dogs to have a plant-based diet (but not cats), Becca is an omnivore. Our next dog will be plant-based.