Today I wanted to talk about something very personal and very public. It’s about my husband – that’s personal. It’s about being a vegan blogger and a vegan lifestyle coach – that’s public.
A reader sent a message on my Facebook Page over the weekend in response to a post about a vegan dish prepared by my omnivore husband. She wrote to ask why I use the phrase “omnivore husband” so often; she said that it causes her pause. She continued:
JL—I am confused at why you can have so much compassion towards animal and have an omnivore husband? Why has he not transitioned like you?
The reason I say “omnivore husband” is to let other people know they are not alone if they live in a mixed house. It brings more people in than alienates. I get so many emails from women who are going to leave a vegan diet because of their husbands. That would be horrible! I remind all of us that we can live joyful, vegan lives that are not contingent on others.
When my husband and I married we both ate meat. Are you suggesting that I give him an ultimatum or divorce him for not thinking and believing as I do? I don’t think you are. And I wouldn’t. I went Buddhist seven years into our marriage. He could have left me, or “demanded” that I remain Christian. But he didn’t because he knows that he married an equal, not someone he could boss or order around. Years later, he too became Buddhist, on his own. I am living a joyfully vegan life and my omnivore husband dines out with me at vegan restaurants and he makes me vegan meals. Each time he is eating vegan with me he is not eating an animal. That brings me immense joy. If he ever goes vegan, it will because he had a profound reason for doing so – and will therefore be more likely to remain vegan. Becoming something for someone else is never as powerful as becoming something for yourself.
How exactly does living with a non-vegan work?
- He purchases his own animal products (meat, dairy, eggs).
- He prepares his own meals with animal products.
Do we eat together? Of course! In fact, we are usually both in the kitchen together when we make our meals. He usually makes our vegan salad and he enjoys the sides I make (grains, veggies, etc). He eats six to eight vegan meals a week, something unheard of two years ago.
I admit that living in a two-adult / no children home does make it “easier.” Other vegan mentors and friends live in similar mixed situations. Lorin wrote about it recently: Cooking for a Multivore Household. Lee, of The Vegan Version is vegan, her children are on a vegetarian journey and her husband, well, not so much. The Lusty Vegan column, on I Eat Grass, tackled the dating issue recently, too: How Do Food Politics Affect Our Love Lives?
What does this have to do with my coaching?
Well, I suppose someone could look at this and think “If she can’t make her husband vegan, how can she make anyone else vegan?” Because no one made me vegan. I came to it on my own. I became vegetarian because of a goat. I transitioned, over eight years, to a vegan diet on my own. I was encouraged to consider the ethics of veganism by many but I ultimately came to claim the label “ethical vegan” on my own.
I do not coach to make anyone anything. My clients approach me because they want to explore being vegan. My role is that of guide, educator, listener, and cheerleader. I don’t change my clients. I don’t judge my clients. I provide a space for them to transition to what feels right and good for them.
There’s a difference between “making” people vegan and simply encouraging a compassionate lifestyle by living one. That’s my approach in my personal life and my public life.
My name is JL and I am a vegan. My husband is not. But yesterday my loving husband figured out how to make homemade vegan caramel corn for my birthday, because that’s what I wanted.
I could not be more grateful for my supportive, loving, and compassionate husband. He is not vegan. Yet.