Healthy Living

My Spouse is Vegan and I’m Not: My experience and tips

On January 1st, my spouse became a vegan.

He had already done a detox program that required cutting out animal products (as had I) but this time he was doing it by his own volition.

In all honesty it isn’t something I’d ever thought I’d see him do- my husband is French and I’d see him eat a 21 oz rib eye steak. In the past, he had been genuinely excited about cooking meat, saying things like “that’s a beautiful piece of meat.” as he marinated it. So, no, it’s definitely not something I ever thought he’d do. But he has and it has affected the whole family.
 
I wanted to share what I’ve experienced through this journey and some tips if  you’re going going through this too: 
 
The hardest part for me (the non-vegan)
 
For me, food is something that brings people together. Some people say you shouldn’t attach emotions to food but food does bring out emotions… you remember where you were the first time you tasted something amazing, for example, or who you were with. Food may carry special memories related to holidays or special moments with family. Especially in the Latino and French cultures, food is definitely emotional.
 
The hardest part about my husband becoming vegan is when we eat different foods at the dinner table, something that especially happened in the beginning. It would make me sad, not eating the same thing made me feel like we were disconnected somehow. So, we have been trying to do more family dinners that look alike but that are vegan friendly (for example, taco nights or pizza that can be vegan and not vegan).
 
Cool things about having a vegan at home
 
The greatest part about him becoming vegan is that we are eating more vegetables, and the myths are debunked: vegan food can be YUMMY! (He makes a mean vegan eggplant parm that will melt in your mouth!)
 
When we go out to eat and find a place that has vegan and non-vegan options, I get really excited! It’s opened up my food options- I try more spices and more vegetables in different ways.
 
Even if you don’t take the vegan plunge, you will still be more conscious about what you put into your body, and you will learn a lot too!
 
You will learn A LOT about food, the vitamins in food and the nutrients — you will learn that no, we really don’t need meat to get protein because there are a lot of vitamins and nutrients (including protein!) in vegetables!
 
The most surprising things about living with a vegan: How much you learn! 
 
First, plant-based foods can really be delicious! (If you’re in NYC, head over to Cinnamon Snail for vegan donuts, your mind will be blown!)
 
Second, the things that I would’ve thought are vegan that aren’t, like wine. Did you know that wine isn’t vegan? Well, most wine anyway. It has something to do with the way the wine is filtered. Mind blown.
 
Vegan food also doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s healthy food. Vegans can eat a lot of junk food, as long as it is processed food that doesn’t come from animals– like OREOS (which are vegan).
 
 
Will I ever become a vegan?

Having a vegan at home has made me rethink the way I eat… yesterday I had steak for lunch and honestly I’m over it. I definitely eat less meat and chicken than I used to. And that’s fine.

It’s not meat that I’d miss the most, it’s dairy products that I don’t think I could give up. I like eggs, I like butter, and cheese- I mean, I could probably live off cheese.
 
 

Has my eating changed now that I have a vegan at home?

Yes and no.

I still eat what I want, but the truth is sometimes I feel badly eating in front of him. For example, with milk. I like milk- I still drink milk in my coffee but I’ve tried to not drink more milk in front of him, because I feel badly. Then I think about it, should we be drinking cow’s milk? If my milk (because I’m currently breastfeeding) is for my baby, why am I drinking a calf’s milk? Does it make sense? (One of my husband’s arguments is that being vegan makes intellectual sense… read more about that here).

Still, I’ve tried having my coffee with other types of milk and I simply don’t like it. So for now, I will still have my coffee with a bit of milk.

When my husband started becoming a vegan, he said he wouldn’t try to influence us, but of course, that doesn’t really work. In the beginning, he’d simply make two different types of food… which I explained before, I don’t really like. So, he tries to make food that we can all eat, and sometimes I will add meat/fish/chicken for the non-vegans in the house.

It’s been almost nine months and he is going strong, even after a trip to France. I’m not going to lie, I’m not the best influence… sometimes I would just say “have the croissant already!” or  “Don’t you miss cheese?”

Recently, he told me that he was no longer going to buy meat for me when he goes food shopping, so in that way, he is absolutely altering the way the whole family eats.

How does this affect my kids- will the become vegan?

My son, who is six, is also intrigued about the way his father eats and sometimes acts like the vegan police. He’ll say things like “but you can’t eat that, because it’s not vegan.” My son contemplated being a vegan for about 3 minutes… after a serious of questions made him realize he wouldn’t be able to have pepperoni pizza or eggs, he said he couldn’t do it.

As for my daughter, she is only six months old, but my husband has expressed (in passing) that he didn’t think she should have cow’s milk when the times comes for that. We haven’t made any decisions on this nor have we discussed it at length. I should add that my son does eat dairy products like cheese, butter and yogurt.

As you can see, having a vegan spouse definitely alter the way the family eats, the way I look at food, the way I think about food at home. I’m happy my husband has found something that makes him feel good (he says he has never felt better in his body than he does now). Personally, I don’t think I could become a vegan, but as I said before, I never thought my meat-eating husband would ever stop eating meat, so things may change.

 

TIPS IF YOUR SPOUSE IS VEGAN AND YOU’RE NOT

  1. Respect his/her decision.
  2. Find places where you can both eat. (and enjoy the food!)
  3. Don’t try to change his/her views.
  4. Even if you are skeptical, try and eat something that is vegan -who knows you may love it!
  5. Make vegan meals your whole family will love (for me, vegan banana pancakes are it! Perfect for Sunday brunch!)

 

Is your spouse a vegan? How has that impacted your family life and eating habits? Share in the comments below, or tweet me, @dianalimongi!

 

 Photo credit: Shutterstock (c)
Diana Limongi
welcome! I'm a Latina working mom from Astoria, NY, mom to a trilingual four-year old. I blog about motherhood, Latino issues, women's issues, work/life balance, food, parenting and raising my multilingual and multicultural son!

Leave a Reply