I have been vegan for about six or seven years now. I didn’t bother with that whole “I’m going to try vegetarianism first” bullshit—-I just went cold tofurky. One day, I was eating meat, dairy, eggs and whatever else, and the next day, I just….wasn’t. I realized that animals were suffering because of the stupid choices I was making, and I had the power to actually help do something about it, so I did. And now, here I am, married to a man who eats meat.
Mark has a health condition that requires him to consume a great deal of food each day. He needs more calories than other people, just to maintain a bare minimum body weight. I’m not sure if he could become vegan without harming his health, and it’s not my decision to make, so I accept the situation as it is. He’s really good about eating a lot of the vegan food I make—-he’s always willing to try it, which is so much better than most people, who just turn their noses up at it and sneer.
Someone asked me recently why, if I am vegan, I married Mark, who is not vegan. (Note to others: this is not a nice way to frame this question. Try, “It must be difficult for you at times to be married to someone who is not vegan and does not share your values. Would you like to talk about that?”) I answered, because I love him. I was surprised to have been asked that question. When I was single, I never expected to only date vegan men. If I had, I’d still be single. I am not capable of loving only vegan people—-in fact, I am the only vegan person I know. If I only loved or associated with other vegans, I’d be very lonely. And I don’t hate meat-eaters, any more than I hate religious people (I am not religious). I don’t hate or feel contempt for anyone, except the assholes who attack me for no reason once they hear I’m vegan.
I fell in love with Mark when I met him in college, but he was with someone at the time. I was lucky to get another chance with him years later, and I wasn’t going to toss it away because he’s not vegan. When he first learned that I’m vegan, he expressed admiration for my ability to stick to something that he perceived as difficult. We went to a restaurant that would accommodate my needs, and he ate meat in front of me. What was I supposed to do…give him a lecture? Storm out angrily? What does that accomplish?
I don’t like having animal products in the house, so yes, I’m often in a difficult position, but I refuse to browbeat my husband into being something he does not want to be. No one did that to me. If he makes the decision to become vegan, I will applaud him and do all I can to make sure he gets what he needs, given his condition. But that isn’t a decision I can make for him.
So, does it make things tough sometimes? Yeah, it really does. Do I wish he were vegan? Yes, because I know he’s a good person who thinks animals matter morally. Is it frustrating to see someone continue ignoring what he knows to be true and making bad decisions? YES! So I keep talking about why I’m vegan, and trying to give him vegan foods, and educating wherever and whenever I can. Just like I do with friends and family–I keep trying to respectfully talk about it, without ever condoning their animal-using habits.
I also choose to focus on the positives, despite what some joyless assholes may accuse me of. My husband has animal allergies, but he co-habitates peacefully with two cats and three dogs (all rescues). He didn’t make a squeak when I brought home four foster kittens (in fact, he wanted to bring home more, and then he wanted to keep them). He loves animals, and I keep in mind that I once ate meat—–that, like him, I was raised to believe meat and milk are “good for you” and that it would be weird and unnatural to give them up. It took me over 25 years to become vegan. Mark makes a lot of compromises, and he has eaten a lot of vegan food. If he never becomes vegan, do I love him any less? Hell no!
So why did I marry him? Honestly, I should not have to defend my decision to marry the man I love, the only man I’ve ever loved.
I’m proud of my husband, and I’m proud of my principles and how I’ve chosen to live my life. It works for me. I married Mark because he’s the best man I have ever known, and I cherish him. I joyfully flip the bird to anyone stupid enough to question that!