posted July 26, 2022

Photo credit: Trevor Harden with @hardencreative

When I met my wife, I was over the moon. She checked all the boxes, rather she checked all the boxes except one—I’m Vegan, and she is not.

Dietary restrictions are not problematic for most people. No capers? No gluten? No big deal. Veganism is more involved than that.

We are all on our own journey. I cannot force my beliefs on my family. Blending families is tough work, blending vegan and non-vegan families, more so! It takes patience, understanding, and most of all, communication.

Restaurants

This is a hot topic. As a vegan, dining out can be sometimes be quite limiting. Preparation is important to ensure a smooth experience. We keep a running list of mutually enjoyed places and when traveling, we look up menus before heading out.

Clear Boundaries in the Kitchen

Be realistic in your expectations and have conversations before issues occur. What is the expectation around your significant other’s animal products? Meat stored in sealed containers? Cheese in the deli drawer? Designate a section of the refrigerator where animal-based products are stored and consider colored or steel containers. To prevent cross-contamination, keep vegan products on the upper shelves and the non-vegan products on lower shelves—this prevents any juices from dripping on to your items and keeps them highly visible.

If the presence of non-vegan items upset you still, consider a small, mini-fridge to host all of the unmentionables.

Communicate What You Are Willing and Unwilling to Be a Part Of

Be upfront about where your comfort level falls. Will you pick up that pack of chicken from the grocery while you are out? Willing to grab meat out of fridge for your partner? Are you willing to cook eggs for them on Sunday or fish on Fridays? Will the very presence of uncooked meat make you excuse yourself from the room? This will look different for every person.

Raising Children as Vegan/Non-Vegan

Photo credit: Kimberly Harper-Colucci

What exceptions will you make? Who is doing the cooking and shopping? Will you be discussing dietary options with the children and at what age?

In the Colucci house, about 85% of the meals are vegan. We are very conscious that our son is of an age to make his own decisions. When he is at friends or with grandparents, we leave the choice of what to eat up to him. We’re comfortable enough knowing the majority of his food is clean, fresh, and plant-based. We also keep open lines of communication without judgement.

Dinnertime

This is a big deal in our house. Regardless of how busy our days are, we try to keep the dinner hour as family time. That being said, dinner can also be one of our biggest landmines. During the day we each grab what we want, but dinner is vegan and we have had challenges finding foods we all enjoy. Cooking one meal that the family shares, no questions asked, is a way to strengthen the familial connection. Set the precedent that eating at home together means eating at home together—same table, same company, same meal.

Vegan as a Base

Photo credit: Kimberly Harper-Colucci

Use vegetable stock as a base instead of beef or chicken. Use a cashew cream sauce instead of milk or heavy cream. Get familiar with cooking soups, stews, curries, pasta, and rice dishes that are vegan, but can have meat, cheese, etc. added after the meal is dished out.

Be Compassionate

This journey can be lonely at times. Only you can decide what you are willing to compromise with. You will find yourself confused, even angry, that your partner doesn’t see things the way you do—after all, you’re so blatantly “right” in this matter. Take care not to project your feelings onto your partner, no matter how fervently you believe in your choices. This type of behavior will do nothing more than create a rift between the two of you and it may end the relationship altogether.

Lastly, remember to keep an open heart and send love to your partner. Send gratitude and love to your partner’s dinner if it helps you. Remember that you were once finding your way too. It’s not your job to change your partner and family, only to support them as best you can.

 

Photo credit: Kimberly Harper-Colucci

KimberlyHarper-Colucci, a Main Street Vegan Academy Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator, specializes in modern food with an emphasis on local, lighter, plant-based fare. Her passion revolves around celebrating comfort food with a nutritious, elegant twist. She is devoted to helping others understand that healthy and delicious foods can be synonymous.

Kimberly provides personalized lifestyle coaching for anyone wanting to transition to veganism or a whole food, plant-based diet. One-on-one time and tailored information shed light onto how easy veganism can be. She seeks to help make the world a better place, one meal at a time.

You don’t need fancy gadgets or deep wallets. With the right instruction, plant-based cuisine can be simple and elegant with minimal work.

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