A vegan and an omnivore sittin’ in a tree…
Well actually one of us is hugging the tree and the other is perched in it trying to hunt a wild animal. Can a plant-based eater and a meat eater live in harmony under one roof? Maybe. What about when there are kids? What do the kids eat? Does mommy feed the kids veggie burgers while daddy slips them bacon under the table? This is my story of how a family with different food needs and wants coexists in (mostly) peace at the kitchen table. When I first started leaning into a plant-based diet, I think the first day I decided my family would try a plant-based diet went something like this:
Me: we're going to try not eating meat or dairy for a while
Me: because it’s healthier for us, and it will help lower your blood pressure, and factory farming is scary (insert Food, Inc. DVD).
Ryan: *bleep* no! Men need meat, I need my protein, you don’t get muscles like this (insert flexed bicep in my face) from eating beans and tofu.
There were lots of discussions like this in the beginning. Ryan told me I was making decisions that I knew nothing about and that I needed to have a medical degree before he would listen to me. Did you know that medical doctors typically receive absolutely zero hours of nutritional training? I was told I was forcing a diet on the family, and if I wanted to eat a plant-based diet, he supported it, but we just did not have enough knowledge to make decisions on what to feed the kids. I have spent the last four years reading every book on veganism, does that count for anything? Nope. I needed a piece of paper for hubby to listen to me.
A common saying is ‘do not ask permission; just beg forgiveness’ (Ryan knows all about this - Harley #1, 2, and 3). I went along on my merry vegan way and stopped cooking meat at home. This was during the time when I still had meat at occasional family gatherings or when we would eat at a restaurant. Ry enjoyed opportunities to eat at other people’s houses and go out to eat so he could eat meat. He frequently asked me ‘why can’t we just eat normal?’ Because normal isn't working for us, or the Western hemisphere. I started to receive some clout when we removed dairy from Jacob’s diet to help him avoid an unnecessary tonsillectomy. Read his story in Change your diet…skip surgery. Score one for the crunchy mamas!
In the beginning, I used to preach and criticize Ryan whenever he'd eat meat or cheese. It sometimes ended up in an argument. He believed a dinner plate should consist of a big hunk of meat, a starch, and a vegetable. Most people believe this too, I did…until I didn’t. And that is what I have to remember. Kathy Freston said in an interview, ‘before I was vegan, I wasn’t’. Hmmm, then who am I to criticize?
I've since backed off. I keep my comments to myself when Ryan orders the bacon cheeseburger at a restaurant. I do all the cooking at home, and he mostly eats what I cook without complaint. Today, if he wants to eat meat, he'll have some during a weekday lunch or if we go out to eat. He is probably a plant-based eater at least 70-80% of the time. I stopped criticizing and preaching, and guess what? When he thinks he ate too much meat, he will say he needs some vegetables.
Eating this way has helped his health out too. He had high blood pressure starting at the age of 32 and at one time, was on three different medications. Not anymore - his blood pressure is now normal. He also had non-alcoholics fatty liver for the last five years or so. After receiving the results from his last round of blood work…he learned it was gone.
Ry mostly enjoys the food I prepare at home, some things he pushes aside and grabs something else – these would be the recipes that don’t make the blog. And sometimes he surprises me by saying things like; ‘do we have any hummus to put on this?’ And ‘people would pay good money for this in a restaurant.’ He went from, ‘don’t put any of that green shit in my smoothie’, to, ‘are we out of spinach?’
I've learned the best way to raise awareness for the benefits of a plant-based diet is to radiate + lead by example, be flexible and smile instead of judging.
He still pokes fun at our diet from time to time, saying all we eat is plants, which is mostly true, but I have lightened up about it tremendously and we have learned to dine happily. Even if I am sitting around reading Veg News while he is reading Manly-Man Outdoorsman.
PS - vegan, not vegan, vegan, maybe, I’m not vegan anymore, and 3 simple love notes that changed my life forever