When my husband decided that plant-based eating didn't work for the whole family, it was an emotionally charged situation. Once we were able to step back and start acting like adults, though, we found ways to co-exist peacefully.
Whether you are the only vegan in your home or if you outnumber the omnivore in your household, communication is the key to keeping the peace while you eat.
We have a peace treaty, so to speak, made up of ground rules that represent what is most important to each of us. In the beginning, I refused to cook animal products of any sort and I only allowed my husband to make meat when I was out of the house. This is an area, though, where I found it to be in my favor to make concessions. My husband tends to focus on entrees when he cooks. That led to many nights of my daughter eating a dinner of just chicken and bread, which is unacceptable to me. We have renegotiated our treaty numerous times as our schedules and needs have changed but here is how it stands right now:
- All animal products must be organic/pastured/free-range – If my family is going to consume animal products, it must be the cleanest possible form. Eggs come from a local farm. Meat must be from pastured animals and also locally produced.
- Animal products are only on the menu two days a week – Most meals come solely from the plant world. Chicken or fish might be dinner one night and served the next day for leftovers. This largely depends on whether I’m home to make dinner or if my husband is left in charge.
- Plants still take center stage – The ratio we have agreed to on meat nights is two plant-based items to one animal-based item. This ensures I get a satisfying meal and has eliminated the fights from those chicken-and-bread dinners.
- Portions will be controlled – Meat is a condiment, not the end-all-be-all star of the show when served. Though my husband would love to sit down to a pound of chicken on his plate, he gets to share a 6-oz. chicken breast with our daughter and fill the rest of his plate with vegetables.
- When our budget is crunched, all bets are off – I insist upon feeding my family whole, organic foods. I prefer plant-based eating because I get more for my money. Though right now, our food budget can expand to include a few animal-based items, those foods are a luxury -- not a necessity. If we find ourselves in a tight spot, the first thing I’m cutting from the shopping list is meat, followed by fish and eggs.
This treaty works for us because it addresses the non-negotiable values of each member of our family. My daughter gets the yum factor she desires from eggs and meat. My husband no longer feels deprived. And I get to feel good about what I eat and experience minimal guilt over what I feed my family.
Are you a blended family? How do you navigate between your ideal and what you’ve found to be practical for your family situation?
*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.