ADVICE TO ENCOURAGE A NON-VEGAN SPOUSE
Photo via: Pinterest
One of the most asked questions I ever get is if Tim is vegan and if he is, how did I convince him to become vegan? In this post I’m going to answer this frequently asked question and give you some tips and tricks on how to encourage your spouse on this journey with you.
So, is he vegan? Yes, Tim is plant based (his seats are leather in his car but he is more mindful about products etc now), but here is the thing: I didn’t convince him to do anything. Tim chose to go vegetarian years ago on his own after I went vegan, then ate meat a couple times, felt pretty awful about it and decided he needed to be fully plant based once he really started connecting the food on his plate to the living beings that they were. This isn’t the case for everyone’s spouse but I honestly believe the more you positively share this lifestyle, the more others will be willing to join you on it.
I’m going to preface this post by saying (like I always do) I do not care what you do. Not because I don’t care about you but I honestly do not care how you live your life, how you choose to feed yourself, your family, your spouse and I mean this whole heartedly. You’ll get zero judgement here and I hope you understand this space is for positive encouragement so when I talk about our experiences–they are ours and they will be so unique for each individual. I understand that. I do however care to share our experiences with being vegan and how amazing this life is but I want you to know I am never judging anyone for how they live their life. I offer this space for love, encouragement and easy ideas on how to be more plant based. I want to attract all the non-vegans too, so welcome! Come learn more about us, how we decided on this plant based lifestyle and how you can do it as a family too.
I reached out to you guys to get some advice on what has worked for your family and I can’t wait to get into that. First, I’m going to quickly break down our experience, what has worked in our relationship and how I believe being positive and supportive will do you more good than coming at it with an aggressive heart.
Killing animals sucks. I get it. I could actually bring myself to tears right now thinking about it. I am 10000% vegan for the animals and this is why I have devoted so much of life to sharing the way of life because I know if even one more person eats one less meat dish we are making huge strides towards change. But, this is MY why. The problem is when we take our own personal feelings and emotions and try throwing them onto other people it can come off negatively and will not really work out in our favour.
I think we are all going to approach this differently, what we believe will be most effective, or what we think others need, our obligations as animal activists, but in my experience I have had great success approaching it by sharing the positives, the amazingness of living a vegan lifestyle, instead of focusing on all the horrifying things happening to the animals (don’t get me wrong–it is 1 million percent horrifying) or what it is doing to our planet etc. I will share these things as they organically arise because I do believe in education and sometimes people honestly have zero idea what really goes on but I think there is a time and a place for this. Places like @annonymusforthevoiceless on instagram for example. I think it just helps removing the person and emotional connection from the message and creating a neutral fact based approach.
I think this has worked for two reasons:
1. SOME people would rather turn a blind eye so it will always be difficult to connect the dots for them.
2. It is harder to get someone to listen to what you have to say if you keep telling them what they are doing wrong because a lot of the time they don’t think what they are doing wrong. We have to be patient and understanding of this. Unless you were born and raised vegan, you too also lived a different way of life before going vegan so we must be mindful of this.
I truly believe that there are no perfect vegans. We are all going to mess up at one point or another and I also believe it would be WAY more impactful to have millions of people making strides towards being more vegan than having a small group of “perfect” vegans. We need to WELCOME every body to the idea of this life, if we are doing it to be kinder to all beings than we need to be kind to the humans who just do not see it exactly like you do, YET. It doesn’t mean they never will but we have to grant them some grace and be patient with how individual this can be for every single person.
So, how did he become 100% plant based and what are some tips for us?
Create a vegan home. I only made vegan meals in our home, only bought vegan products etc. If he wanted to eat eggs and dairy then he would have to eat them outside of our home. He is amazingly supportive with all the home things but watching him cook can unfortunately be a two day process so I am more than willing to make cooking my thing but that also means no animal products. Thankfully Tim was extremely supportive of this idea. Nothing would come into our home that was sourced from an animal.
Explore new dishes instead of going right into changing his/her favourite dishes. Now I’m reaching way back in my memory to when we first went vegan but I remember making a lot of new things and not trying to make them like old dishes. For example, I explored Pinterest (I have 1000s of recipes there so find me there!) and found new ideas like Buddha bowls and meals that didn’t need to be labeled vegan. This was so helpful to getting in good, tasty, nutrient dense meals without only eating lettuce and carrots. Back when I first went vegan there were very limited products for meat replacements etc and a lot of the times they were made out of processed unhealthy ingredients so I just avoided them all together. Now we have so many good options to choose from so you could definitely replace staples with those. Follow people who inspire you on instagram, Pinterest, buy vegan cook books, keep on learning.
Find replacements for all the non vegan things he/she loves. Coffee creamers, ice cream, cheeses, sausages, burgers etc. We try to eat mostly healthy but of course we all want to eat junk here and there and so we eat it. If he doesn’t like one vegan product don’t get discouraged, try a few until he finds one he loves. Personally we love Field Roast sausages, Beyond Meat sausages, Beyond Meat burgers, Beyond Meat crumble, Earth Island cheese for melting, CHAO creamy original for eating as is, and the vegan ice cream options are just endless. Find GOOD vegan products, just because they are vegan doesn’t mean they are all going to be good.
Share your why with him/her. Your spouse is going to make sure they are listening to your heart and why you are making the choices you are. Watch documentaries together, visit sanctuaries together, explore your why together. Tim did not initially go vegan for the animals (doesn’t make him a bad person, this just wasn’t his why) but THE ANIMALS are what has kept him vegan. Share this in a very passive, non aggressive why. I think it is so important to not make others feel bad for living the way they do and remember that we have all been conditioned to believe we must eat animals in order to survive and thrive and this is so not true.
Be patient. It will take time for everyone to learn and become comfortable with these changes so grant them patience. People will make mistakes and some will choose to be PARTLY vegan and that is ok. It is MORE vegan than where they were yesterday. Do what YOU are comfortable with, encourage whenever you can and be patient with where your spouse is at. At first it can be a lot, a huge learning curve and a bit emotional. Take some time finding out what contains milk (some chips, really!), eggs, gelatin etc. It gets so much easier the longer you do it so just remember that. All changes will require some effort but it will always be worth it.
Educate. Kindly. I really mean to do this kindly. Share studies connecting the power of plant based eating and overall health, the negative effects factory farming has on the earth, how factory farms operate, how animals deserve to live and are very much like humans (families, happiness, companionship, intelligence), how dairy cows aren’t in fact a thing and it is just nursing mothers. Share stats, the news as it comes up, watch documentaries together,
Share all the cool kids who are doing it: Pro athletes, celebrities, super fit hunks on Instagram. I don’t know your husband/wife find what inspires them and share share share! Tim lovessss knowing all the football players who have gone vegan etc. It is SO COOL that this many strong, successful humans thrive on just plants! IT is normal to live off of plants.
I feel like I’m so grateful if you’ve made it this far. I honestly believe you can do this as a team and just remember that patience and love will always make it easier. It is so hard to make everyone see things the way you do which is why we are all unique and amazing in our own ways.
We live in Alberta, we are known as Cow Town because of the Alberta beef industry. Im from a Greek heritage (mom literally came on a boat and dad immigrated when he was 17), meat is a huge part of the Greek culture but SO ARE PLANTS. If a boring old couple from Alberta with Greek roots can do it, I know you guys can too. I promise it is possible and it isn’t just boring tossed salads and carrot sticks.
Im sharing some answers from the questions I asked so hopefully other peoples advice can support you as well. I’ve only included a few because Arrow woke up from his nap and needs his mama but they were mostly consistent to the ones I’m sharing below. To disclose again, these are other peoples suggestions below and even though I may not agree entirely with them all, take what you want from each.
THANK YOU for being here and being willing to learn more about this amazing way of life. If you EVER have any questions just know I am here to answer them or help you find answers to them.