What It's Like Being Married to a Vegetarian (When You're Not One)

Being married to someone who doesn't eat meat has its challenges for both of us.
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Cole Nemeth
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Being married to someone who doesn't eat meat has its challenges for both of us.
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After our daughter was born, I brought up the idea of eating a vegan diet to my husband. He brushed off the idea as stupid, claiming he loved eating eggs and steak too much. 

Not long after that though, we were on a camping trip where our daughter was able to pet different farm animals. We went back to our site and had chicken burgers for supper.

The thought of eating the very animal we had just told our daughter to be nice to remains in my husband's mind to this day, and was part of the reason he started looking into a vegetarian diet. Eventually, he decided he was never going to eat animals again.

He scoured through books like How to Become a Vegan along with multiple vegan cookbooks and after a month of research the two of us embarked on a journey to stop eating meat and animal by-products. 

That was over seven years ago now and he still hasn't eaten any animals, and does his best to avoid animal by-products.

I, on the other hand, lasted about three months. All throughout high school, I had tried to refrain from eating animals, but never lasted more than six months at a time. I don't know why my will power sucks, but I always give in at some point. Usually at my cousin's house because my meat eater uncle is an amazing cook.

Being married to someone who doesn't eat meat has its challenges for both of us. His challenges may be more difficult than mine. But while I love that he eats a vegetarian diet, it can be a huge pain in the ass.

First of all, I absolutely hate cooking. I work from home and he travels to many surrounding cities for work and often doesn't get home until late evening. Cooking one meal is frustrating enough for someone like me, who often walks away and forgets there's food in the oven or on the stove, but having to cook two different things sucks big time! 

I can't make just one lasagna, or one pasta sauce, or one Shepard's pie; I have to make two. Sometimes I can get away with things like cooking chicken and tofu to go with our rice and vegetables. And summer BBQs are super easy; just throw on two different types of burgers. But a lot of meals take twice as much work.

Even more frustrating than eating at home is eating out. His restaurant options are very limited. We live in a city that offers very little variety and most of the restaurants are pubs and diners. The only vegetarian options are usually fries or onion rings, and if you're lucky they might have a garden salad not covered in cheese and cream-based salad dressings. 

It's really annoying when Nick and I go to a restaurant and all he can order is a garden salad. Never one to make a fuss, Nick usually refuses to find a more vegetarian-friendly restaurant and we stay. 

Over the years, we have discovered which places offer vegetarian dishes, usually a veggie burger with fries, or are completely vegan. Even though I'm not a vegetarian, I still enjoy eating vegetarian food now and then. Just not all the time.

Over the years, many of our friends have adopted vegetarian, and even vegan diets. And many of those who haven't have actually stopped eating pork and beef. In our social circle, I'm the odd one out. 

And I'll be honest with you, being surrounded by people who don't eat meat kind of makes me feel like an asshole. Like I'm a terrible person for enjoying hamburgers and sausages. 

Since Nick went vegetarian I'm starting to lump people's diets in with religion, politics and money — we can all have our own opinions on it, but if you're going to talk about it you better be prepared for differing opinions, possible arguments and a lack of understanding. 

People are actually super passionate about what they eat and why! Who knew?!

That said, I believe in a live and let live philosophy. If there's one thing that really bothers me, it's when people who don't know what they're talking about try to argue with my husband about vegetarianism. 

When I first met my sister's new boyfriend at a birthday dinner, he soon learned Nick was a vegetarian and without thinking decided to tell us that Nick would be a lot more intelligent if he ate meat, because “People need meat to feed their brains.” Whaaat?! Throughout history there have been many famous people who were, and are, vegetarians. Smart, successful people. There are even famous vegetarian athletes, so you can't even argue that you need meat to be strong, either

FYI, most vegetarians actually know their shit. So, please, know what you're talking about with actual facts and research before trying to argue something you don't understand.

It's kind of crazy how passionate people get about vegetarianism, but it's something I learned very fast when my husband decided to stop eating meat years ago.

Even with all the nuisances, we've made it work for us. I've even gotten used to cooking two different meals. We enjoy experimenting with new recipes and food, and it actually can be a lot of fun discovering new restaurants, as well as exploring different grocery stores. 

Having very different diets really doesn't matter to us. At least not as much as it seems to matter to everybody else.