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Mixed Marriage: I'm Committed to Going 100 Percent Vegan, He's Not

Howdy from windy Arizona (this week). I'm so glad to find this supportive group of folks.

I'm a (practically) lifelong lacto-ovo veg (26+ years)  who has thought about going completely vegan for many years. But, being married to a carnivore for the last 14 has made this less of a priority... until now....

Last week, my dear friend was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer and it hit me like a ton of bricks. Now, in honor of my friend and this awful (mostly) diet-related disease, I am truly committed to changing my diet to 100 percent vegan, and hopefully having some influence on my husband too.

Hubby's not a diehard carnivore (in fact he made us a tofu scramble for breakfast this morning), but he also grumbles a fair share about not having enough dairy products in the house. He's not exactly supportive, but he isn't trying to talk me out of it either.

If there's anyone out there who has some suggestions for making the transition a bit easier when your partner is not committed at all, I''d love to hear them.

Thank you for listening.

Hi and welcome.  I just wanted to let you know I'm in a somewhat similar situation.  My husband I and were both lacto-ovo vegetarian for about 5 years before I recently decided to cut out dairy and eggs (I was l/o veg for about 8 years before we met).  My husband eats dairy at home, and sometimes eggs when we eat out.

I think it helps for both of us to be supportive.  For example, if I'm running out to the store, I'll buy him milk and cheese if he's running low.  I don't try to keep him from eating those things just because I don't agree--it's his choice to make, and I would never force him to do anything he didn't want to do.  My husband understands my reasons (in my case it's not for health, but rather for the animals), and while he hasn't come to the same conclusion, he respects my choice.

It's so great that your husband made a tofu scramble!  When he makes the extra effort to make something vegan and perhaps unfamiliar, you should be sure to let him know how much you appreciate it. 

I do most of the cooking, so everything is vegan to begin with, but my husband can add some cheese to his portion if he wants, and I can add vegan cheese to mine.  If you normally split the cooking responsibilities, you might want to consider taking on a little more of the cooking at least in the beginning, to take a little of the pressure off your husband.  Depending on what you normally eat, it might not be that big of a deal to cook vegan, but it might require a little more effort.

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Hello!

You totally need to check out the 'Sweet & Sour' forum.. there are several good threads dealing with this very issue! Start here:

http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=29972.45
http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=23340.0

and from 'Food Fight'
http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=31857.0

I'm in the 'let 'em eat kale!' camp, myself... everyone's different, and you'll find what's most comfortable for you. But for me, I'm just not interested in jumping through hoops to spoonfeed another ADULT foodstuff that I think constitutes a health/ ethics/ environmental disaster... I'm the only one that cooks, at my house, and the only one who shops. My husband does all the laundry. When he does laundry, I do not say 'I only want my clothes washed in this kind of detergent , and be sure you fold my shirts THIS way and not THAT way'... I say, 'Wow, clean work clothes, awesome!! (smooch)' And when I shop & cook, he says 'Thanks, babe, that was great!' Whoever does the work gets to decide how it gets done; I think that's fair, and it works for us. If he wants stuff I'm not comfortable buying or cooking, well, he's as able to get it as I am... so, yeah... Kroger's thataway, pots & pans are in the cabinet under the coffeemaker...

I haven't been a planteater exclusively the whole time we've been married; but he knew who i was when he married me (ie a hardheaded but kindhearted b****!)... and just like I wouldn't ask him to abandon his religion because I don't believe in it, he wouldn't ask me to do something I have ethical problems with just because he doesn't see it exactly the same way I do. I wouldn't see that as a reasonable request, and neither would he (if I did, he'd undoubtedly go looking for the thermometer to rule out fever & delirium! haha).

Anyhow: glad you're here! You'll figure out what works for you guys-- there's no 'one right way' to go about it, just give it your best & it will get easier with time, guaranteed! Be sure to ask for help as needed, as you explore new cooking & lifestyle habits... Welcome!

:)

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Thanks so much for the welcome and the feedback. It's good to hear other stories of couples who are making this transition.

I wouldn't ever cook meat for hubby, and he really doesn't want me to (I can't cook it for anything!), so that's a relief!

I do the majority of cooking most nights, and he's also lost a ton of weight since I started omitting animal products from our meals. I think at some point he will begrudgingly admit that he looks/feels better since this change. My goal isn't to convert him, just to make this less of an issue whenever we have meals that were once standard, like cheese-based pizza, and turn them into new vegan favorites. His philosophy has always been that if a couple has separate meals, they're doomed to failure (we've seen vegan/carnivore relationships dissolve). I told him he's got nothing to worry about...I won't let cheese come between us!

Thanks so much for the support. I can't wait to dive in here and find more fantastic recipes/ideas. This is my first branching out since buying "How it All Vegan" and going through just about every recipe in that book. This is a whole new world! Yipee!

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I'm sorry to hear about your friend.

Best of luck to you and welcome!

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His philosophy has always been that if a couple has separate meals, they're doomed to failure (we've seen vegan/carnivore relationships dissolve).

I'm also really sorry to hear about your friend.

I thought I'd chip in, because I've been living with my omni boyfriend for about four and a half years now, and before that I lived with an ex for over four years as well who was also omni--so I know how you're feeling!  For me, in both cases, things got easier with time.

My boyfriend doesn't eat a ton of meat, but when he does he's good about making sure he's cooking something that I can modify for myself as well.  So we've gotten pretty crafty about planning meals where we're essentially eating the same things (and thus avoiding the issue of eating completely separate dinners, like you said), but I can toss in my tofu or tempeh and he can toss in his meat, and we're both happy.  Stir fry dishes, burritos, spaghetti with meatballs (or 'meatballs'!!) and that sort of thing are all easy meals for that reason.  Also, when we're doing something a little more involved like lasagna, sometimes we do it vegan-style or sometimes we just make two little casseroles side-by-side in the oven.

I've also found that the more I experiment with tasty vegan dishes, the more of them I find that we both really love.  So over time I've built up a good long list of meals that are vegan that he loves as much (or almost as much!) as I do, and that's helped a lot.

I hope that helps.  Keep your chin up.  :)

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Thanks for the additional insight!

The way you two work your meals together sounds a lot like the way we've been doing it for years. Only now it seems more challenging to me since I'm omitting the dairy. But you're right..experimenting with recipes is key. Today I made a vegan eggs benedict for the first time, from a recipe I got here, and he had nice things to say about it.

The recipes here are great!!!

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I hear ya - so glad to find peers! I've been a lacto-ovo veggie for 20 years and so is my husband, but I recently turned vegan sort of 'overnight'... (Posted my introduction in this forum a minute ago). DH is sad about the things we enjoyed together that are now lost.  Like our tradition of having cheese fondue on Sinterklaas (Dutch holiday) and eating out regularly. Also, he just doesn't want to have his cheese grated on pasta all the time (when he feels like having cheese that is), but would like a real cheese/egg dish every once in a while. Like your DH he's worried that our current different opinions/lifestyles will come in between us -- we always were/thought so much alike, and that changed. He understands & respects my decision and is supportive but finds it hard. Anyway, the feedback in this thread helps!

I'm sorry to hear about your friend, my mom died of colon cancer (around the time I became a veggie, no coincidence) so I know how you feel.

Good luck with finding new awesome recipes & such!

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Gnoe - my husband feels similarly about wanting to have a dish with cheese incorporated into it rather than just on top once in a while.  For now the solution has been to make similar dishes side-by-side--we'll cook some pasta, he'll have macaroni and cheese while I'll make some faux cheesy sauce.  We've made two lasagnas, also (actually in the same pan, contained in foil, although it would be easier to just do two smaller pans if you have them).  We'll make two pizzas each with our own favorite toppings.

Eggs aren't so much of an issue for us since we really only used to have them for weekend breakfasts or in baked goods (easy to replace).  Luckily my husband loves tofu scrambles, vegan waffles, etc!

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Hi Gnoe, thanks for replying, it's good to feel like I have company with this one.

What I've been finding is that the biggest issues we have regarding this decision are:

1) breakfast. We used to eat a lot of eggs for breakfast. Frittatas, scrambled, you name it. While eggs can be easily replaced in a breakfast, I just don't want to eat so much tofu. I'm having a hard time finding good, egg-free recipes that can be just as good as a plate of runny eggs and biscuits (hey it's a great hangover cure!). Any ideas for livening up breakfast is greatly apprecaited.

2) Whenever I cook a recipe out of "How it All Vegan," about 90 percent of the time I get either rolled eyes, a look of "oh boy there she goes" or like tonight, a hack when he tried a sauce I made. Even if something is good, he still feels a need to make some kind of comment or reaction about it, and I KNOW he wouldn't do this if I was cooking a non-vegan recipe. Granted,  he's a better cook than I am, but I find it completely rude and upsetting that he doest his. He has no idea how passive-aggressive he's being with his snide reactions and non-verbal cues. We had a big blow up over this tonight. Any thoughts about how to handle this behavior will be greeted with lots of hugs!

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1) breakfast.

I'd say start experimenting with baking.  There are lots of vegan breakfast cake ideas on this site.  My favorites are a blueberry oatmeal breakfast cake and the 'sour cream' coffee cake, which I recently discovered is just as good with plain vegan yogurt if you don't have the 'sour cream' around.  (Incidentally, you can also find 'sour cream' recipes on this site if you want to make your own).  Maybe if you learn to make some new recipes like that, and muffins and stuff, you'll both be happy and he'll be pleasantly surprised.  A lot of these types of things (scones, especially) don't take any time to whip up and bake, so it won't take your whole morning.  Alternatively, you can bake up a bunch of breakfasty stuff on Sunday and wrap it up for the week.  I go this route with muffins when I know I'm going to have a busy week--I just bring a ziplock baggy of muffins to my office on Monday morning, and then I don't have to even think about breakfast for the whole week.

2) ...I find it completely rude and upsetting that he does this. He has no idea how passive-aggressive he's being with his snide reactions and non-verbal cues. We had a big blow up over this tonight. Any thoughts about how to handle this behavior will be greeted with lots of hugs!

It sounds to me like you need to have a real heart-to-heart and tell him exactly how you feel.  Having these conversations sounds really hard at first, but actually it often ends up being easier over time, and you'll feel better about yourself and your relationship.  Avoid starting sentences with things like "YOU do this, or that..." or "YOU upset me when..."  Instead, put things in terms of yourself and your own feelings.  Use the word "I."  It will be less accusative and more productive overall.  Tell him what you want and what you need (a positive) rather than what he's doing that upsets you (a negative).  Be very matter-of-fact.  I've found that using this approach in arguments in general helps keep people from getting defensive.  When you're on the defense, you don't tend to actually listen, and it sounds to me like what you need is for him to actually listen.  I hope that helps.  :)

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Awww thanks for the advice!

The breakfast cake ideas sound good. Both of us are real sweets junkies, so I think we can definitely find common ground with this one.

As for the conversation about his attitude...oy vey did we have a talk. But it's all good. Now he knows how I feel and hopefully we'll work through it sooner than later!

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Anything can work in a marriage so long as the support is there. My DH didn't go vegan at all when I first started to investigate it in 2009. Recently, he's decided to go veg, but our relationship wasn't altered by what we ate. Granted, I'm the shopper/cook in our family, so he did know that if he wanted something at home he'd have to cook it himself.

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