Janel Croll of Portland has been a vegetarian for 15 years. During the last nine she’s shared a home – and a kitchen – with her husband, who eats meat.

“It works because he doesn’t cook,” said Croll, 36. “I do the majority, if not all of the cooking. He’ll eat whatever I cook.”

Zach Croll, 33, agrees. He enjoys her cooking and doesn’t bring much meat home.

This is a common approach among vegetarians who live with people who eat meat. If the meat-eating housemate doesn’t cook and the veg one does, the home’s meals naturally become vegetarian.

However, things work differently in the kitchen longtime vegetarian Kristen Scarcelli shares with her meat-eating husband.

“He makes his part of the meal, and I make my part of the meal,” said Scarcelli, 58, who lives in Portland. “We meet over the greens.”

The shared vegetable might be sautéed kale with onions and balsamic vinegar or a simple baked potato.

“I don’t cook meat,” Scarcelli said. “And we share utensils, not in the same meal, certainly, but there isn’t a set of his dishes and my dishes.”

Croll said once in a while her husband buys cold cuts or canned tuna and makes a sandwich. They also share the same dishes and utensils, but Croll asks that he clean up after himself.

“I prefer not to wash dishes with roasted chicken breast on it,” she said.

At the Ellingsworth home in Portland, where both parents are new vegans and both kids eat meat, things work in a similar fashion. Mom Christy Ellingsworth, 42, does the cooking.

“I tend to cook what we’ll all eat,” said Ellingsworth, who blogs about low-sodium food at thedailydish.us. “If they don’t like what I’ve made, they’re free to make something else.”

Her 15- and 11-year-old daughters are skilled enough to whip up a simple meal if they don’t like the vegan one she’s prepared. Ellingsworth buys cheese for them and when the backyard chickens are laying, the girls have eggs, too. Ellingsworth has even been known to buy sausage on request for sleepover mornings.

“We allow them freedom of choice,” Ellingsworth said. “When they’re with friends, they’ll eat whatever they want. The more you try and restrict the kids, the more they rebel against it.”

Ellingsworth is also lenient with out-of-town guests, allowing them to boil lobsters and grill hamburgers at her house.

“Diet is so huge – it’s like politics or religion – how can you force that on someone?” Ellingsworth asked.

While many vegetarians in mixed households find a way to accommodate meat (and the people who eat it) in their own kitchens, it can be a different story for foodie couples who like to eat out.

“So much of our relationship and what we do centers around food,” said Emily Harradon, 37, of Portland, who moved in with her boyfriend right around the time she was adopting a plant-based diet. “I thought, ‘Now we won’t be able to have as much fun because it will be much harder for me to eat.’ ”

At first she did struggle, as she realized that the restaurants they used to frequent together had little for vegans to eat. But eventually she discovered the city’s cadre of vegetarian-friendly eateries.

“Luckily for us,” Harradon said, “we live in a town where within a half-mile walk of our apartment there’s wonderful Thai, Indian and Mexican and all kinds of other restaurants where chefs are realizing there’s a demand for vegan and exploring their talents.”

Croll and her husband said that when she decided be a vegan it did present some ordering challenges. “It was a little easier when I was vegetarian,” she said. “We could order a pizza, no problem, and share it. Now when we go out to restaurants, it is a little trickier.”

But Croll maintains a flexible, laid-back attitude, and she wants her husband to continue to enjoy the restaurant scene.

“If he wants to eat somewhere in particular and there isn’t anything vegan” on the menu, Croll said, “I order a salad and fries.”

Avery Yale Kamila is a freelance food writer who lives in Portland. She can be reached at:

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Twitter: AveryYaleKamila