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Is anyone married to a vegetarian?

by 1190 · January 11, 2013 at 07:00 PM

How is it going? I am married to a vegetarian and it isn't easy on either of us. Since we were both vegetarian when we hooked up years ago, I am the one who has defected to the dark side and brought meat into the house. I will never change him since he has been this way since he was a child..the smell of meat has always disgusted him. It is hard to come up against total disgust. He is also a yogi which adds a spiritual aspect to his not eating meat.

I routinely make two meals (no, he doesn't cook) with the soup and salad in common. He agrees to eat fish now and will tolerate chicken stock in a vegetable soup, but relies on beans, soy and cheese (though he is worried about his cholesterol). In the mean time, I like the hard stuff: beef heart, oxtail, short ribs, goose...

I feel bad both because I am worried about his health on this life-long diet, and because I know how hard it is on him to smell my meat cooking...especially the bone-broth. We joke about it (he is always asking if I am cooking up bison balls or pig spleens for my dinner), but our differences come up a lot. Conversion of either party is not an option.

Does anyone else struggle with this situation?

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7 Replies

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209 · January 11, 2013 at 02:05 AM

My wife was a vegetarian for the first 10 years of our marriage. She/we were also lazy and ate Boca and Quorn products which are heavily processed. Her reason for this diet was to be "green" or some iteration of that worldview. Deeper examination of why she was vegetarian led to the rejection of eating food made in a warehouse in Florida then shipped via industrialized machinery to our local grocer. This ultimately led her/us to the adoption of Paleo.

If you can come to an understanding of why you both eat the way you do and have respect for that it would probably be a good thing.

Also not to be a jerk but if he eats fish he is not a vegetarian.

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11011 · January 11, 2013 at 01:24 AM

I clearly see that your concerned about his health and I feel similar since my dad has been a vegetarian for 40 years. I taught him about how dangerous things like soy can be, especially sine it's gmo now, and I encourage him to eat eggs, some dairy and he will eat seafood occasionally. I also have steered him clear of refined carbohydrates like wheat and flour, so I mean, it's up to you, but even without eating meat there are significant steps a vegetarian can take without compromising themselves.

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3033 · January 11, 2013 at 06:44 PM

It seems like you have worked out a benevolent compromise. Is there a place where you can cook away from your primary living space? (I know my roommate used to complain about the smell of chicken broth cooking, so I moved it in my bedroom.)

Also, since he eats fish, you can enjoy more fish meals. Most people don't get enough, and fish and shellfish are some of the more nutrient dense meat meals you can eat. Fish broth is quick to make, and can be better for you (since most include fish heads, you get thyroid broth as well!)

And, I always send vegetarians to this link: http://rawfoodsos.com/for-vegans/ Denise has excellent recommendations on how to get the most nutrition out of a vegan diet.

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11648 · January 11, 2013 at 02:05 AM

I hate to link my article "Tips for a “Somewhat-Vegetarian” Paleo diet" again, but maybe you could convince him for some of the suggested foods, just for the health perspective of it: http://eugenia.queru.com/2013/01/10/tips-for-a-somewhat-vegetarian-paleo-diet/ I don't think you will ever be able to completely move him to full Paleo. I was engaged to a vegetarian/semi-vegan in the '90s, who was also vegetarian since he was a kid, and nothing came off it. Except some heavily herbed minced meat once every blue moon (just because it didn't feel too much like meat), he hated meat (and fish).

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363 · January 11, 2013 at 02:04 AM

Mark Sisson is married to one

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18794 · January 11, 2013 at 07:00 PM

I would just like to point out: you are not married to a vegetarian. He eats fish and animal broth? Yeah, nope. :-)

FWIW, the yama of ahimsa, the most often cited as being the religious grounding in Yoga for vegetarianism, does not direct me personally not to not eat animals. It expects me not to be an a**hole to both animals and humans, basically.

Regardless, it's hard -- I've dated many vegetarians, and was one myself for 7 years. I got better. :-)

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1643 · January 11, 2013 at 06:54 PM

You cannot change anyone, and certainly not your spouse.

The best thing you can do is live by example and not proselytize. We all do it! Myself included! But when people see just how healthy you are while you gobble down steak, lard and vegetables, then they'll start to wonder about what it is you're doing that works so damn well.

If he's been vegetarian from childhood, it's no wonder he's repulsed. It's been with him for nearly as long as he's been alive. It is firmly ingrained. I'd say that's nearly impossible to change...unless he wants to. And that's just it. It has to come from within.

I harped on my wife forever for her eating habits. I thought I was doing it out of care and deep horror that her health is suffering if I DON'T DO SOMETHING OMG. I lost both my parents to cancer and heart disease. This instilled a very powerful fear that anyone I love who doesn't fix how they eat will also die a horrible, and preventable death.

Let me tell you: nagging your spouse in any way will only end up in some of the biggest arguments possible. It is their body, and it is their health, as much as you feel it is also yours. It isn't.

She changed the way she eats recently because we want to start a family, and I really wanted her to be as healthy and fertile as possible. But she agreed with me! We got Chris Kresser's "Baby Code" and it helped. She also saw how consuming cheese was irritating her psoriasis, so she's just cut it out.

Socrates said it best, "I cannot change anyone. I can only make them think".

So hush your mouth, eat your bacon, and just be.

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