On Being the Only Vegan in a Family of Omnivores.

I live in a household full of boys, who are all omnivores, bordering on carnivores if they had a choice. This puts me often in difficult situations when it comes to preparing and cooking their meals.

I made the ethical choice to become a vegan. Handling meat is a major turnoff and the last visit to the butchers and being confronted by the sight and smell of concentrated raw meat nearly resulted in a big mess. Upon seeing my greenish- tinged face, my 7 year old son suggested that “it might be better if Dad comes here next time”.  He is so thoughtful like that.

Having two special needs kids (autism) just makes life a little more fun. My youngest has the strongest gag reflex in the history of strong gag reflexes. He can basically vomit on demand, no fingers involved. Quite a unique talent really, but makes introducing or changing his meals difficult. His attempt at trying Soy cheese did not end nicely. Can’t say I blame him. That brand of cheese we tried was awful and probably put him off vegan cheese for life!

An evening meal in our house involves double the preparation and cooking now. I was reading recently that Drew Barrymore has gone back to eating meat as she wants to be able to share meals with her non-veg boyfriend. While I can see why she made that choice, I can see why others choose to maintain their commitment to being vegan or vegetarian. There have been nights, after feeding the family however, where I have simply forgotten to prepare something separately for myself, and have resorted to crackers and dips at 10pm! 

I do often manage to get a couple of completely vegan meals in front of the family each week, without them noticing or complaining too much. It is easy to convert pasta based meals to vegan without much of a change or difficulty, but hubby thinks that he will die if he doesn’t get animal protein and most times I won’t argue the point. The boys all know where their milk, meat and eggs comes from and though they all love animals, they don’t seem to be fazed when it comes to eating them.

I often feel like I am not trying hard enough to convert the boys over to being vegan but I feel almost certain that I would have little to no chance of converting my husband. I see and read of many families doing this successfully and wonder how they do it. I am in complete awe of the conviction and dedication that these parents have. Maybe going at it one great vegan meal at a time will be the way to go for us. Slowly but surely, subtle replacements and memories of happy mealtimes may just do the trick, but maybe not.

At any case, here are a few suggestions for you wifeys and hubbys out there who are finding themselves in the same position and feel that they could use some advice:

Don’t be the only shopper and cooker in the family

If your partner chooses to eat meat but you can not stand buying it, try to explain how you feel to your partner and  reach a compromise in which they buy and prepare the food they want and you buy and prepare the rest. This will save you a lot of terrible moments in which you are being asked to operate against your core beliefs.

If both you and your partner are veg but your children decided different, let them make their own non-veg meals. This could have two positive affects: one you will not have to emotionally deal with touching dead animals, and two, your children will learn to be responsible for their food choices and who knows, maybe touching and dealing with raw meat will get them to make the connection…

It’s not all about the food!

Don’t forget, being vegan is not just about the food. While your partner might not be willing to go off meat and dairy for life, they might be more than open to buy cruelty free cleaning products, clothes, shoes, furniture, personal hygine products and cosmetics. If you only manage to get your family to avoid animal tested and animal derived products, you still managed A LOT.

It’s vegan night

Decide, together with your partner, that you will only have a certain amount of non-veg meals per week, which they will be responsible for, and the rest will be vegan. That way you are not asking your partner to completly go off meat and dairy, but on the other hand you will minimize the amounts of non-veg meals and the family’s meat, dairy and eggs’ consumption.

One evening last week, when hubby got home from work, and I had had a rough day at home with the kids (school holiday, ‘nuff said), I fell asleep on the bed before dinner-time. I was awoken by my gorgeous man half an hour later with news that he had cooked dinner for everyone. To my delight, and disbelief, he had cooked all of us a completely vegan meal! He thinks it was no big deal, but to me, it was amazing.

Karen Koschel

Writer & Reviewer

Vegan Newbie and Vegan Gardener Columnist

Karen Koschel lives in a small country town with her three gorgeous boys and two adorable “recycled” dogs. She is passionate about animal welfare, organic gardening, and living a sustainable life to the best of her ability. This involves turning her little piece of earth into a productive food garden.
Karen is also an artist, specializing in personalised portraits that are hand-drawn and custom made.

More about Karen

Check out Karen’s art work on her Facebook page

Or at her website – Karen Interlandi Portrait Artist.