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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Pretending

I pretend my husband isn't who he really is. Pretending is the only way I can deal with loving him while finding myself becoming increasingly more intolerant of his omni lifestyle. And I'm not talking about just an ordinary meat eater here, either; no, unfortunately my husband not only eats animals, he kills them for fun (he is an avid hunter and fisherman). Sometimes I think of my ideals and how much they mean to me and I feel devastated to realize that my partner, the person with whom I am spending THE REST OF MY LIFE will never understand them. When I feel like this, it is hard not to fantasize about how incredible it would have been to make my lifetime commitment to someone who completely understood and agreed with all the things that make me who I am. But the truth of the matter is that this will not exist for me.

Despite his choice of lifestyle, I love him with all my heart. He has so many traits I admire: he can be so understanding, completely loving, just plain good to me. He is my very best friend, and I love him so much it is almost overwhelming sometimes. But then there are the times when I worry about the almost insurmountable challenge of sharing my life and future with somebody who practically embodies everything that I think is wrong with the world, and my heart sinks.

In my husband's defense, I wasn't always a "hard-core" vegan. Oh, I ate the vegan diet and did all the easy personal protests like ditching the leather and reading labels, but I was pretty passive. I knew and accepted the fact that my husband ate meat, loved to fish, and occasionally hunted; I just tried to overlook it. I rationalized his crimes by reminding myself that he should be able to make his own choices about what is right and wrong just as I did. I told myself that with time he would someday change his views. But mostly I just pretended our differences didn't exist. Unfortunately, this all changed once I started reading more and more about veganism and meeting other people who share my views. Now my eyes have really opened up and my tolerance for his omni behavior has plummeted.

We try to make compromises. He has cut down on meat at home and will do some of his own cooking if meat is a "must-have." He agreed to do the catch and release thing (this came with his lecture about how this really doesn't "hurt" the fish). We also agreed he would hide his hunting trips from me (in my mind, hunting is just a little worse than fishing, so if I could pretend he was just off fishing it would put my mind more at ease). But none of these compromises really make what he does okay. In my situation, there are two choices: either I can go on pretending it is okay for him to lead his violent omni life or I can give up the love of my life.

I don't think he will ever change. As hard as it is for me to admit it, he will never ever come to that enlightening moment when he realizes just how wrong it is to exploit, kill, and consume animals. He is not a cruel person, though; he loves dogs, finds my cats amusing (although he is a little put off by the feline attitude, but tolerant nonetheless), and genuinely respects my feelings about animals.

But is this good enough? Will the reality of what actually happens when he hunts and fishes become so abhorrent that I can no longer bring myself to love a man who does them? Pretending -- lying to myself about what he does and who he is -- is the only answer I have. Pretend the fish don't feel the sharpness of the hook, don't feel the panic of being yanked out of the water, don't feel the horror that their lives will end at the hand of another. Pretend the deer don't feel the terror of being hunted down or the agony of the bullet. Pretend my husband doesn't do this for "entertainment."

It would be much easier on my marriage to go back to that sheltered, naive, ignorant omni view that animals are put on this earth for humans; to be oblivious to their pain; to tell myself that they don't matter. But I can't pretend THESE atrocities are okay. I can only pretend my husband doesn't commit them.

Wendy A.
Washington

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