I went vegan in May 2014, pretty much overnight. It felt so easy and natural…a whole new world of exciting, compassionate and guilt-free food opened up to me. I live with my husband and our dog, both omnivores. I’m a real foodie and am definitely the Chief Cook (not bottle washer though) in our house so I wasn’t at all worried about who was going to eat what when I made my decision to live vegan. My husband and I had always eaten plenty of vegetarian food so the move to vegan didn’t phase me in terms of what I was going to give him to eat.
And so my vegan journey began. I’m not going to get into the issues about my husband being omni..he’s incredibly supportive of all things vegan but he’s still ‘…..mmmmm bacon’ but that’s a whole other thang. What I want to share here is my experience of living with an omni and making living vegan work. Turns out it’s been an unexpected challenge for me…
It all started out in a beautiful haze of green veg, seitan and flax seed but then reality struck. As much as my hubby will try any dish I make, there are still some things he really doesn’t like, i.e. pulses and big chunks of veg, so that was my beloved chickpea curries and tamarind lentil out on their ear. He is also a dairy addict so cows’ milk and cheese are still on the shopping list, as are cereal bars, crisps and other snacks which nearly always contain the dreaded whey powder (I hate that stuff, it’s everywhere).
I’ve watched Earthlings and Cowspiracy. I’ve got my vegan truths and facts right. I know that dairy is just about the cruelest industry ever to exist, yet those crisps, yogurt-coated cereal bars and milk chocolate covered toffees cry to me quietly every evening. I’m a nurse so I’m generally wrecked when I get home from work, and those nasty little voices call to me like mermaids luring sailors to their doom. I confess, when I’m tired, hungry and emotionally drained I have forsaken all I know to be true and eaten those little packages of cruelty.
I’ve tried filling the house with vegan snacks, treats and chocolate but the truth is that they just haven’t cut it for me yet…there’s still something about dairy that entices me. I also find most vegan snacks and chocolate to be fairly expensive so that pushes them out of being everyday items budget wise.
I refuse to beat myself up about this as I genuinely believe that being any-percent vegan is better than none. I also think that this is a journey and so I expect to have times when the road is more difficult to travel than others.
I think that reflection is the key: I’m looking back on my experiences with the intention of identifying situations or behaviours or patterns in my ‘challenges’ that I can find solutions to. Just a couple of days ago I realised that I need to ensure I always have meat substitutes in the freezer. One of my biggest problems is being able to make a satisfying dinner that meets my vegan requirements but also provides an adequate ‘meaty’ component for my omni half. I can make a vegan version of just about anything so long as I have the vegan equivalent of chicken or beef pieces as well as mince meat. So that’s one problem solved!
I also ensure there’s a range of quick meals he can fix for himself (usually pizza, apparently it’s one of the main food groups) which means I can make something for myself that he wouldn’t like (cue tamarind lentils).
So, it’s been surprisingly difficult in some respects, this whole vegan malarky. Living with an omni, even a loving, supportive doofus like mine, is challenging but I think what I’m really trying to say is….this is not an absolute. We are ever changing, as is our environment and we are constantly adapting. That means sometimes things will go smoothly and just the way we want them to, but other times not.
I really don’t believe we’re doing good by beating up on ourselves when we stumble. Perhaps in amongst our desire to live compassionately we need to remember to shower some of that love on ourselves. We are imperfect beings in an imperfect world so lets use our heads and hearts to push forward and find solutions that will help us flood this earth with exactly that…compassion, not cruelty.