One of my most frequently asked questions is, “Since you’re vegan, your husband must be vegan also, right?” And to the surprise of most people, the answer is “no.” This response, of course, begs other questions, and most people struggle to understand how our relationship could even work with such different lifestyle choices, but it does. Whether you are a vegan living with non-vegan roommates, family members, boyfriends, or girlfriends, here is some advice on how to bridge the gap.
1. Buy predominantly vegan groceries; let the non-vegans purchase non-vegan products themselves.When it comes to grocery shopping, I am often asked if I will purchase milk, cheese, or meat for my non-vegan spouse, and the answer to that question is, “No.” When we go grocery shopping, we predominantly purchase vegan products, from the more obviously vegan products (such as fruits and vegetables) to the less obvious vegan products (such as bagels and butter). In many ways, we are able to find compromises; for example, neither my husband or I are fans of milk, so we purchase almond milk, coconut milk, or soy milk as wonderful substitutes. When it comes to meat, however, there are few vegan substitutes, and for non-vegans, there seems to be nothing better than the real thing. With this in mind, I refuse to cook with non-vegan products, and if my husband wants to grill a steak, I encourage him to go to the grocery story, pick up a steak, and grill it himself. This allows him to continue to live his life as he pleases, without hampering my choice to live as a vegan.
2. Find vegan restaurants and foods that you can both enjoy. When I was a vegetarian, I told my husband that at some point I would cross the line and go vegan, and at the time, he was very unhappy with this idea. However, as I started, and have now continued, on my vegan journey, my husband has seen that (while he will not take the full leap and fully convert to a plant-based diet) being vegan isn’t all that bad. We’ve also found that finding restaurants that we can both enjoy is less challenging that many people may expect; some of our favorite chain restaurants that offer vegan and non-vegan options alike include Olive Garden, Red Robin, Qdoba, and Mod Pizza. In addition to eating out, we have also found that many of the dishes we frequently make at home can be made vegan, and to further explore vegan substitutes for standard non-vegan dishes, like alfredo, we have taken to further exploring vegan cookbooks, like Isa Does It. Other books, which I have not purchased myself but have been recommended, include Thug Kitchen and Forks and Knives.
3. Compromise, compromise, compromise. It seems that I’ve already started to imply this concept, but I will continue to reiterate it. The easiest way for vegans and non-vegans alike to cope with living together is by finding the middle-ground. For instance, both my husband and I want to keep a clean house, but cleaning one’s house often includes using products that test on animals. For most of our household cleaning products, we have compromised by finding cruelty-free cleaning products that do not test on animals and are also less harmful to us, since they contain fewer chemicals than most common household products (I hope to write a future blog on this soon, where I will include an exhaustive list of the products I use to clean my house). This example illustrates that the best way to compromise with a non-vegan is to show non-vegans what other options are out there; some vegan options may not seem that different from the products he or she is used to using.
Although my husband and I have found ways to live vegan and non-vegan lifestyles in one home, I know that this could challenge some vegans’ views of what it means to be vegan. I, personally, am a less extreme vegan; for example, I will eat a food item that was processed at the same plant as a product containing milk. In contrast, other vegans may be repulsed at the idea of eating a product that could contain traces of milk. In the same way, many vegans may not be comfortable with the idea of their significant other eating meat, let alone eating meat at the same table with them. Without such fears, I am able to live comfortably with a non-vegan, but I know that other vegans may not feel the same way. How do you feel about living a vegan lifestyle with other non-vegans? Would you be able to cope with living with a non-vegan partner? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic in the comments.
The featured photo was taken by Jude Beck. Find more of her work at unsplash.com