So you’re vegan, and your partner isn’t. Or maybe your an omnivore, or a vegetarian, and your partner is a vegan. Or maybe you’re an everything eater and your partner is gluten-free. Or maybe you’re gluten-free and your partner is allergic to nuts, or soy, or dairy, or…
See where I’m going with this? Sometimes our dietary restrictions (and ethical POVs) just don’t match up with the views of the people we like to spend our time with.
My boyfriend P and I were recently at our friend’s house for dinner. The couple we were eating with, let’s call them Sally and Sam, they were talking about a recent trip to the doctor that revealed that Sam was allergic to literally everything. Nuts, most beans, soy, wheat. All of the good stuff. We spent a solid twenty minutes lamenting Sam’s loss of the ability to enjoy a nice beer.
Sam is trying to eliminate these perpetrators from his diet to see what happens, and the pair was talking about how it’s affecting not only his body (allergies gone, stomach bloating gone, itchy rashes gone) but their relationship–mainly their cohabitation patterns at mealtime.
Both of them are having to relearn what they can cook if they want to enjoy mealtime together without having to prepare two separate meals. Some people, of course, might begrudge their partner for a change like this if they felt obligated to participate. (But…just…a…little…cheese, please?) But Sally is super awesome, and is actually more into seeing how these foods were negatively affecting Sam than he is. It was cool to see her immense support, and it made me think of all the vegan/omni couples I know – including myself.
P spent the entire month of September trying veganism on for size. I spent the entire month of September holding my breath and silently hoping he makes his own connection with it, on his own, without any nudging at all from me. (He didn’t.) We ate amazing vegan meals and watched a few documentaries, but he ultimately decided that while he enjoys vegan food, he feels no real conviction for forgoing animal products. He was, however, pleased with the new level of awareness veganism provided him. So that’s a plus. (Sniffle.)
Like Sally, I’m trying really hard to support P’s food decisions. Or at least, support P while he supports his food decisions. Unlike Sally and Sam, the juxtaposition between what I eat and what P eats is not mainly correlated with health, but with politics and, well, emotion.
P loves animals, he rolls around on the ground with dogs, he can talk for hours on end about his infatuation with bears, he snuggles cats despite a horrible allergy that makes him wheezy for hours, and he does an incredible imitation of a sow. But he eats pigs, and supports industries that abuse some of his favorite creatures, and he is okay with this. And it’s not my place, nor would it be beneficial to our relationship, to judge or imply or rant and rave at him. We are coexisting with different ideas of what food is, and what compassion is, and it surfaces at many meals.
The way I get around this huge difference is with a crap-ton of love. Just like I love the animals I choose not to eat, I love P (d’awww) and I love him more than what he eats. He is making his own big boy decision and gathering his own karma and I have to be cool with that, because I can’t change him, and I wouldn’t want to, so the only other option is to not be with him. And that’s really not an option at all right now.
Okay guys, tell me how you deal with coexisting when you don’t see plate-to-plate. I want to hear your stories, yo. Gluten-freebies, talk about how it’s hard to watch your partner eat noodles or, even more devestatingly, drink beer! Vegansexuals, go ahead and tell me I’m an awful vegan for doing an omni – I’ve heard it before. I’m a big girl. I can take it!