What some people would view as somewhat of a phenomenon (a vegan and and an omnivore coexisting peacefully) we don’t really know any different.
Let me explain. We had food differences way before I ever had even the slightest inclinations towards a plant-based diet.
Top: Me holding a pizza I made for Joseph. Above: Me and my dear husband.
I’m still discovering his likes and dislikes. Those that I am sure of:
Beans. Rice. Cheese. Ground beef with A LOT of taco seasoning in it. Strawberries. Oranges. Ice-berg lettuce, or the equivalent crunchy lettuce to go on his tacos. Home-made white flour tortillas. Sunflower seeds in the shell. Cheeze-Its. Candy pumpkins. Plain ol’ Lay’s potato chips. A & W Rootbeer. On occasion, my “green” smoothies, if “they aren’t too green.” Ben & Jerry’s strawberry cheesecake ice cream. Bacon. Sausage. Baby carrots. Tomatoes.
Chicken. Cabbage. Seafood (with the exception of salmon). Eating breakfast. Cauliflower. Squash. Sweet potatoes/Yams. Beets. Sour cream.
And then there are those things that are in a special category of their own:
Things he doesn’t dislike but doesn’t prefer or see a need for:
Maple syrup (why put syrup on his pancakes when he likes strawberry jam better?). Sauces, dips, and embellishments to food of any sort.
And then there’s the
I-will-never-touch-even-with-a-ten-foot-pole foods category (In order of importance):
3. Cooked greens (kale, spinach, ect.)
So, you may be asking yourself, how is it that we exist? I know that many spouses feel discouragement over wanting to make some real changes in terms of diet and healthful living. It can become a real sore spot in many marriages, especially if one spouse becomes insistent that other spouse change “or else.” I met a girl once who had made the change to a vegan diet, but her husband was not interested at all. In fact, he was openly hostile (a result of her insistence, I’m sure). Instead of accepting that, she insisted that there was NEVER anything in the house that she didn’t approve of (like meat). She wouldn’t even allow it to to be in the house, let alone cooked in the house. Now talk about a real way to build some wedges in a marriage!
I like lists, so here’s a little list of things we do and have proven helpful in allowing both of us to feel loved, accepted, and respected:
1. Allow your spouse to be an adult. To make their own decisions. If they need a mom in their life to tell them what to do, they can go home to get a dose of that. I try to never tell Joseph what to eat or not eat. One of the best ways to “change” someone, if you can call it that, is to just live your life, worry about yourself, and your example will speak for itself. A good example speaks much more strongly than a nag. No one wants to live in a police state.
2. Avoid being preachy. This just comes off as self-righteous, which is definitely NOT attractive. I like to share what I’m learning with Joseph, and he is genuinely interested in what I care about. He knows a ton of stuff about the benefits of eat whole foods, not eating meat, some of the negative effects of dairy, and so on.
3. Decide how you will do meals. For breakfast and lunch, Joseph is on his own (at school), so he pretty much eats what he wants although many times he’ll take leftovers from the night before. For dinner, it’s not a democracy, although I try to be as considerate of his specific tastes as possible (I usually don’ use squash, or eggplant, or cabbage as a part of our dinner meals). Some of our favorite dishes that we both enjoy are spaghetti (he makes his own meat and occasionally I make or buy vegan meatballs), baked potatoes with toppings of our choice (broccoli, chili, non-dairy cheese are some of our favorites), and some variation on burritos/tacos/tostadas. Soups are also a really easy favorite, as there are many variations and Joseph can easily add some ground beef to his if he wants.
4. Do seperate grocery shopping if needed. I go shopping for the family, and Joseph has some of our grocery money budgeted to do his own shopping. This is a great way for both of us to feel like we are getting what we want.
5. Avoid cooking two meals. Too much work, too much time. Avoid it. Instead, make a list of things that you both like that are vegan and could be easily made non-vegan with the addition of a side of meat or cheese.
6. Remember that you are in this together. Avoid judgement, competition, or any sort of negative comments about your spouse. Joseph is my biggest supporter, fan, and ally. He supports all of my decisions and encourages me to do the things that I like and want to do. Likewise, I allow him to eat what he wants, and I praise and encourage any positive choices/changes. I will even make him some of his favorite treats from time-to-time, or I will find tasty vegan versions of some of his favorites (like these mint-chocolate chip cookies that are to die for, and they’re vegan!).
7. Gratitude goes a long way! Show your spouse gratitude for all of the work they go into preparing meals, and show patience when things don’t turn out the way you planned, especially when a recipe doesn’t turn out as planned.
7. It’s all about the love. At the end of the day, it’s you and your spouse. Whatever you need to do to make your spouse happy and loved, do it!
So while I don’t eat animal products and my husband does, we are still happy. Through trial and error, much communication, and compromise, we have been able to both eat the way that we want to without sacrificing either one of our agencies/ablitity to choose.
One last thought. I really am so grateful for a husband who is so supportive of me. I realize we may not eat the same foods, and while I would love it if he came full on vegan today, I’m okay with the fact that he may never be a vegan, or vegetarian even. Having our differences and having to learn to compromise and communicate really has made our marriage richer, more intimate, and even more satisfying.