Vegan Deli

Vegan Deli  by Jo Stepaniak

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Raising Vegetarian Children
by Jo Stepaniak, M.S.Ed., & Vesanto Melina M.S., R.D.

Raising Vegetarian Children

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Do you have questions about being vegan? Send them to Jo using this easy form. She would be happy to address your individual concerns as well as general inquiries about vegan ethics, philosophy, practical applications, and living compassionately. Jo cannot respond to questions about nutrition or answer questions that have already been addressed in the Archives

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Changing Relationships

I live a vegan lifestyle and became vegan during my relationship with my partner. He does not feel as strongly as I do, and it is really taking a toll on me. He eats mostly vegetarian but continues to buy meat for his son. He also wears leather clothes and shoes, silk ties, and so on. I have tried to be open, but I feel disempowered and sacrificial not being able to set the boundary of not having animal products in my home. This really seems to have altered the unified parental structure that I feel is necessary. My sense of respect for myself and him seems to be diminishing. After a year of trying to be open, I don't seem to be getting any sense of peace. I just keep thinking that I want him to feel the same way as I do.

I can certainly appreciate the sense of frustration and isolation your are experiencing within your relationship. It is challenging enough for vegans to be "out of step" with the culture at large, but to feel alienated within your own home is especially difficult.

It is important to continue to communicate with your partner and not distance yourself further because of your feelings. Be as honest and open with him as you can, without letting your emotions cloud what you need to say. Give him the space to share his point of view, too, without condemnation or reproach. Be sure to include your concerns about his son and maintaining a unified parental approach, as well as about your desire to uphold a vegan household.

Even though the situation may seem bleak at the moment, remember that your partner is nearly vegetarian, and that's already a major step in the vegan direction. If his motivation for eating a mostly vegetarian diet is because of pressure from you or because of his own health concerns, you may want to supply him with some basic vegan literature so he can read about other issues with which he may not be familiar. Consider giving him information on the soundness of a vegan diet for children, since he is probably purchasing meat because he is convinced his son needs it to thrive. Be sure the materials you present have been written by professionals -- either physicians or dietitians -- so he can rest assured that the information is scientific rather than biased.

Most people who come to veganism feel jolted awake, as though they had been "asleep at the wheel" and are only now becoming conscious of the truth that has always surrounded them. As with most personal revelations, vegans are usually eager to share their new awareness with those they love and care about most. It can be incredibly disappointing to realize that our loved ones may not be as excited as we are, or, sometimes, may not even be interested.

The practice of veganism is a series of discoveries instead of an arrival at a destination. Vegans are continually learning how to be more compassionate, understanding, loving, and forgiving toward ourselves as well as toward others. This is a lifetime process. Allowing your partner the freedom to progress at his own rate may be one of the greatest tests of your willingness to be sensitive and empathic toward those who hold differing beliefs.

In the midst of even the most ordinary relationship conflicts, it is easy to denounce the other person entirely. In other words, we might think of them as completely irrational, totally unreasonable, always inflexible, or perpetually stubborn. During times of turmoil, it's much easier to see our "opposition" in terms of black and white, always or never, all or nothing, while discounting the more worthy qualities that drew us toward that person in the first place. Often these attributes are perfectly intact, just much less visible through the foggy lens of friction.

Recall what you most admire and love about your partner and focus on these special qualities when you are together and apart. Tell him how important and special he is to you, and how meaningful it would be to share the commitment of veganism. Try to remember what you were like before you became vegan, and know that your partner is simply at the place where you once were.

If you feel that your desire to have a more complete vegan lifestyle outweighs your tolerance, patience, and love for your partner, then you will need to make the difficult decision to separate. Only you can ascertain the level of dissatisfaction and unrest you can endure. Even though challenge can spur personal growth, no one deserves to suffer. After discussing the matter with your partner, determine what you must do to regain consonance in your heart and your home. Whatever direction you choose, engender it with tenderness and respect for your partner, his son, and yourself. Be an example of vegan compassion through loving actions and words. Then, regardless of what you decide, peace and serenity will follow.

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