She eats plants, he wants meat – can this relationship work?

23 July 2017

In any relationship there are differences to navigate but how does it work when one partner's a dedicated plant eater and the other loves lamb roast? Can they co-habit comfortably in a kitchen – and how do they reconcile ethical differences around eating? One partner (often, but not always. a woman) believes passionately in not using animals for food while the other isn't ready to leave meat off the menu.

This is no rare scenario – an estimated one in four people in Australia are either meat-free or consciously reducing their meat consumption according to Animals Australia.

But what's a plant eater to do – beat her partner over the head with facts about abuse in factory farming or the link between high meat consumption and climate change – or just cook great food that happens to be made with plants, not animals?

Rolling out your best sweet potato curry may be the best option says Melbourne-based accredited practising dietitian Lucy Taylor of Bloom Nutrition and Diet Solutions.

"Rather than trying to enforce your beliefs on your partner, it's better to come from a place of compassion. Remember there was probably a time when you were unaware of the issues around eating animal products yourself, so accept that everyone is on their own path," says Taylor, a vegan herself.

"Assuming that people will change their attitude if they have more information on a topic because they 'just don't know enough' or don't know what you know doesn't work. Often drilling facts into people makes them defensive and is more likely to result in their own beliefs becoming more ingrained.

"Instead, win them over with plant versions of familiar dishes such as a lentil and mushroom bolognaise. I find non-vegetarians think that tofu and beans are bland and boring, so using them in creative ways can open their eyes to what plant-based food actually is."

And be grateful for baby steps.

"Don't expect your partner to change overnight. Just reducing meat intake is still beneficial – remember that they've been eating meat and dairy for their whole life and change can be difficult," she adds.

But instead of being a cause of conflict, mixed diet relationships could be a good way to nudge more people towards eating less meat.

Tash Williams, 36, a community development co-ordinator in Sydney, eats a mostly vegetarian diet with occasional fish. Her partner of 13 years still eats meat but is happy to eat plant-based dishes most of the time and brings home meat once a week that he cooks himself.

"We never had a big conversation about it – it just sort of evolved. If we have a barbecue, he eats meat and I eat vegie burgers and when friends come over for dinner I'll make mushroom risotto – I try not to make a big deal about it being vegetarian food. I don't like to push people."

It' a similar story from a vegan colleague who's just moved in with a meat eater – he's getting closer to her way of eating, although he still eats some meat.

"It definitely caused friction at first. Every time I raised the issue of animal welfare, he felt judged even though I wasn't judging him, so there were some difficult moments," she says. "Eventually he gravitated towards eating more plants but it was a delicate balance between staying true to my values and accommodating the fact that he still eats meat."

There are many reasons people swear off meat and poultry but when it's for reasons of animal welfare it can involve strong emotions.

"Once you become aware of the animal welfare issues it's like someone's opened a window and you see the suffering – and when you know about it you can't 'unknow' it. When I go into a supermarket I don't see a piece of meat I see an animal that's been tortured and killed," says Fiona Cardillo, a 41-year-old TV producer. She eats a vegan diet while her husband, "a supportive meat eater", eats mainly vegan food at home.

What Fiona and her partner found helpful was a seminar given by a psychologist on communication in vegan-meat eater relationships.

"Her basic message was that the non-vegetarian needs to understand how deeply emotional the issue is for the other. They don't have to convert to a vegan or vegetarian diet themselves – but they do need to understand how you feel."

Read the original article

 

Back to latest news.

WhyVeg.com is an initative of Animals Australia, Australia’s most dynamic national animal protection organisation. More »