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The Reality Of Parenting With A Non-Vegan Partner

by | October 10, 2018

Parenting comes with a lot of struggles and hard choices, and you may find yourself defending your choices to other people a lot. Especially when you’re a vegan and you are parenting with a non-vegan.

Have you heard that joke? “A Vegan, a Crossfitter and an Atheist walk into a bar. How do you know? Because they TELL you!”

There’s a reason vegans tell you! It’s out of necessity rather than smugness as the joke implies, although a bit smug is sometimes wrapped in there, eh? Really, it’s like pulling the band-aid off really slowly versus just jumping in and doing it in one quick pull. The faster it’s out there the easier things will be. So, here it is, I’m telling you. “I’m vegan and so is my son, but… my husband is NOT.”

That’s right. I’m a vegan currently parenting with a non-vegan.

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Although, some react to this with shock and awe as though a tiger and a bunny have shacked up together, it’s really a pretty common situation. For some it’s not a big deal, a small obstacle in grocery shopping every week, but for others it can be a total deal breaker.

I’m fortunate that this was not a deal breaker for us, especially since my husband is pretty rad and I’d like to keep him around!

One of the obstacles of parenting with a non-vegan is that if we eat out somewhere or with people we don’t know, seeing my husband eat a non-vegan diet implies the rest of us do too. The implication itself is not a big deal, but if I don’t get out ahead of it it can cause some awkwardness.

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Just as a side note, I never expect for people to cater to me. If we are at a restaurant I can ALWAYS find something and if we go to someone’s house the last thing I’m going to do is demand they make something especially for me. Instead, I always come prepared with either something I’ve made to share with everyone, so that I know there is at least one vegan dish or pack a bunch of snacks and emergency food. Think giant squirrel.

Anyway, the benefit here is learning to plan ahead, to be self-reliant and flexible. By the way, these are all much easier to achieve when you’re not starving so bring that emergency stash regardless of the situation I say!

I am in a situation where I’m lucky enough that my husband supports the way I eat and helps to encourage it for our son. However, things do get more complicated for the little guy when he sees dad eating food that can’t be shared. I think there is a silver lining here though. Modeling both a vegan and non-vegan diet for him encourages tolerance and open-mindedness.

Balance is something we try to manage on a daily basis and there are a lot of differences out there; black/white, male/female, Catholic/Buddhist. Diet is just one more difference to add to the list. Having differences is a good thing. It fosters thought, debate, new perspectives, and understanding. And at the very least, creates a dialog.

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Most people don’t respond well to others opinions being forced upon them, myself included. This is why I don’t force the issue with my husband, or my family. I can really only control what I do and how I eat. To try to extend that reach beyond myself sounds exhausting and futile.

The old adage, “actions speak louder than words” definitely applies here. Because myself and my son don’t eat animal products they rarely make an appearance in our house. I do most of the cooking and so, by default, my husband eats a mostly vegan diet except when we go out. He often remarks that he feels better after eating at home and his stomach is usually upset after having eaten out.

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This is a much more motivating reason to switch to a vegan diet than just getting lectured about it. I think as my son grows older and sees this reaction for himself the pieces will start to fall into place.

The real crux of the situation comes down to control. I am under no illusions that I will be able to control what my son eats every minute of every day for his entire life. It’s just not realistic. My only goal is to feed him the food that I feel is best for him. Along the way I’ll explain the reasons behind it and hopefully give him enough information to make his own informed decisions. It’s really no different than teaching our children anything else.

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In the end, all we can do is give them the information and the tools they need to make their own decisions and hope we’ve done enough.

Are you parenting with a non-vegan? Let us know about your experiences in the comments below!

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Brenna Jeanneret

Brenna is a stay-at-home mom raising a tiny vegan in the Midwest. She has been vegan for 5 years, worked as a Health Coach for 2 years, and a Vegan Chef for 1 year while living in Okinawa, Japan. She loves to get outside, snorts when she laughs and probably drinks way too much coffee.

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