In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’m going to break format for this post. I recently read an article about couples trying to make a relationship work when one person is vegan and the other isn’t. It wasn’t a particularly interesting article, in fact the conclusion was something we all know anyway: couples have shit to deal with. Wow. Great revelation.
What does this mean in real life for couples of “mixed food choices” like us? It doesn’t mean much. In fact, when Friand and I first met, I was a well established veg*n having been vegetarian since 1990. The article mentioned couples making food “compromises” where they meet some place in the middle. Really? This happens? I can fully understand a meat eater incorporating meatless Monday into the routine or eating some interesting vegan dish their spouse made. But to think that a veg*n would start incorporating meat back into their diet to appease a partner that doesn’t accept their veg*nism is a bit unrealistic.
Imagine my delight when Friand and I met and he was completely supportive of my choices. We went on our first dates to places where we could each get entrees we would be happy with – places that also didn’t make it difficult for me to get vegan food without a struggle! Nothing like appearing to be high-maintenance in front of a potential boyfriend. I wasn’t on a mission to convert him to veganism and he wasn’t out to feed me meat. It showed us that we were capable of great compassion and respect for each other at the beginning of the relationship, so imagine now 2 1/2 years and a marriage into it what we are capable of?
The ability to love a person for who they are, not who you want to make them into, is what sets a relationship up for success. I love feeding my husband, I love watching him eat, I love the pure abandon when he enjoys a good meal. That’s probably the Italian mama in me coming out, but it doesn’t matter to me what he’s eating as long as he’s satisfied. I also know that he enjoys seeing me get a meal I love at a restaurant, he loves my cooking, and he never ever criticizes me for choices that I made long before he was blip on my radar.
I have been on the other side of this spectrum – I have been resented for my veg*nism, I have been “apologized for” and “explained away” by excuses made on my behalf – and it’s not pleasant. It’s a miserable existence. And it in no way inspired me to eat a little meat to make someone shut up. That’s why I am so vocal about the fact that committed veg*ns aren’t too quick to change their diets.
There are greater issues facing any marriage than food. I think it’s very old world to expect that couples eat the exact same menu at every single meal. It’s not uncommon among my friends that we are preparing variations at each meal to satisfy everyone at the table. We have found a balance with what we each eat, and 9 times out of 10, Friand is eating whatever vegan meal I’m making for myself. Even if it is just for health reasons, it does make the cooking duties easier!!
But it’s also not a burden: we choose our paths and if I wasn’t willing to accept the responsibility of taking care of everyone’s needs, then I would be either looking for someone exactly like me (impossible) or have to live alone.
I choose neither.
Questions for you, Dear Readers: Are you in a “mixed-menu” relationship? How do you and your partner handle your dinner differences? Have there been any major changes in either of your diets in response to one or the others lifestyle? Any advice for new couples or new veg*ns in this area?