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What Happens When a Veggie Marries an Omni?

The following is an interview with Carissa Leventis-Cox of Mama in the Kitchen, and she ain’t cookin’!

Finding and creating balance is difficult when a health-conscious family wants to interact and be a part of a community obsessed with fast foods, animal products, and processed junk foods. I recently have met quite a few vegan and vegetarian women who are married to men who love meat and processed foods. The women joke that their hubbies eat these “on the side.” But when kids come along, the dynamics of your family drastically change.

I’ll admit it: Sometimes I want to quit and give up on days when my efforts are not appreciated or fail on the home front. Sometimes I imagine giving my family the typical SAD (standard American diet) foods that they would love to get their hands on. Wouldn’t I be more popular around here at meal times?! Wouldn’t I have so much more time on my hands?!

But then I think of why I do what I do in the first place, and I look at how far we’ve come. Five years ago, I used to buy bags and bottles of processed foods and 14 pounds of animal products a week for my husband alone. Three years ago, my husband and son were sick with a cough or cold every month. This year, my husband has been sick only once and my son just twice. Today, my boys are 50 percent raw vegan; the other 50 percent of their diet is mostly comprised of home-cooked vegan or vegetarian foods!

Sometimes, when I think I’m not making progress … I am! A few months ago, my son announced: “No more salads for me! No more leafy greens! Just smoothies!” Instead of making it a big deal, I served up green smoothies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. One day, I decided to make his former fave, kale salad, for dinner. I was surprised when my son finished a big bowl quickly and quietly and said aloud, to no one in particular: “That was yummy! This is the best salad!” Although, technically, my son is still in his “no salad” stage, he will finish his fave bowl of greens, if I don’t fuss about it.

As for my husband—he really loves his meat. I don’t want to deprive him. Nor do I want the topic of meals and food to be a thorny subject between us, when it should be something to enjoy together. Considering that he used to eat animal products at every meal, it is such a positive change that he now does so just a few times a week.

What does it take to make peace at my dinner table? Perseverance. Balance. Determination. Education. Motivation. Empowerment. Compromise. And knowing that permanent change comes slowly, one step at a time.

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  • Charlett says:

    My husband eats meat, and I’m completely fine with it. When I think back to where we were 4 years ago when we both ate meat for nearly every meal, I’m so proud of how far he has come. When I made the transition 3 years ago to go raw vegan he nearly flipped. I had to wait until we went away for work to buy the all veg groceries on my own. When he got back, he accepted it, but we both had to cook our own meals separately. But it took no time for him to switch from bacon and eggs to fruit smoothes, and a half a year to go from cold-cuts sandwiches to green smoothes. He used to eat meat every night, but switched to organic local meats right away, then reduced to only chicken twice a week after a few more months. And now he doesn’t even buy meat anymore. He might have some when he goes out for dinner, but more often then not he’ll come home and tell me how he ordered a tempe sandwich and a salad. (it’s funny because he just called to tell me this while I’m writing this) He also makes the most wonderful vegan meals for us from intricate salads, to chili and green thai curries. It only took 3 years for our home to become meat free, and I’m sure it will only be a little while longer before he cuts meat out completely as well. When I first went veg I thought it was hopeless and that it would be such a struggle living with a meat-eater, but I just had to be patient and let him make his own changes and slowly he did!!

  • Karen says:

    My husband is an omni and our two children are too, I give them healthy seasonal/organic choices and they love fresh fruits and veggies. Other family members are surprised when they eat salad. I made the decision for myself and hope when they come of age they will too. I don’t push it on them, but try to model the right behavior.

  • SoniaK says:

    Just one person’s opinion: I think if we make dishes that are luscious to all the senses and our dining partners see us licking our chops and making sounds of enjoyment and pleasure (without all the caveats and “shoulds” and guilt-trips) they will naturally gravitate to our way of eating. Think of the hoopla Mediterranean families make over their meals. They don’t criticize and analyze. They just enjoy!!!!!! And that is contagious.

  • Kimberly says:

    I’d be okay with meat eating if my spouse didn’t expect me to cook it. I will not cook meat, period.

  • A Betts says:

    Before my husband went veg I had very clear rules about his consumption of animal products. Meat was not allowed in my home. Because I am veg for compassionate reasons, I could not bear to see a poor dead creature in the fridge. If he wanted meat, he had to get it at a restaurant. Thankfully my husband came to his senses 5 years ago, and now our home is veggie bliss!

  • Elle says:

    i avoid this issue altogether: i don’t date and won’t marry a man or woman who isn’t a vegetarian/vegan or willing to become one.

  • Lindsie says:

    I love this. I’m engaged to an omni, and it can be hard sometimes. He’s really flexible, though, and doesn’t mind eating veg most of the time.

  • Jade Heathfield says:

    I have recently become a vegetarian and although my partner has not, we have come to a compromise. He won’t eat meat at home but will still enjoy a meat dish when he is dining out. (Although on a few occasions he has told me he favoured the veggie dishes!) I think compromise (and a wide variety of food on the menu!)is important in vegetarian/omnivore relationships.

  • Karinna says:

    This is a great article. I’ve been through and ended 2 relationships like this and realize it is not for me. My passions on Veganism are so important that I cannot bear handling raw meat in my kitchen nor having to scrub down the countertops after someone prepares animal flesh. Compromise is wonderful, but I have yet to meet a man who is compassionate enough to listen to what I have to say about the suffering of animals and the damage animal products do to our bodies. In addition to my refusal to wear leather or fur or use leather couches, etc…I think I’ve effectively narrowed my options of finding a quality partner in life! 🙂 It’s worth it to me!
    Karinna Zarate