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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.
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
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
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
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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