Vegetarian - Non Vegetarian Family Conflict

"My meat eating husband wants us all to eat the same...please help"

I'm writing out of sheer desperation! Since aged 17 I've had a vegetarian diet and only started eating fish again a few years ago when pregnant with my first child.

This decision was partly because I craved fish and partly to meet my family half way as my husband's a firm meat eater.

I consented to both our children being brought up eating meat as I didn't want my views inflicted upon their young minds. (One is 3 yrs, the other 8 months)

The problem now is family meals. My husband wants us all to eat the same as he feels the children have too much choice. He doesn't particularly like eating fish so I tend to cook a meat meal, then a veggie one with soya for me.

I feel torn between my beliefs and my desire to be the idyllic family that my husband wants. Everyday the situation is discussed. Please help. - F. L.

Savvy Vegetarian Advice

Dear F. L.,

I'd love to help you, although I'm not a professional counselor, and can only give you my personal views.

I see that you do what many women do, and that is submerge who they are - their personalities and desires - to maintain family harmony. In your case, that means putting your husband's wishes ahead of your own. You pay for that in your own health and happiness, and it prevents your relationship with your husband from being all that it could be.

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Your husband's picture of an idyllic family life unfortunately doesn't have the real you in it, but the wife he wants you to be. I'm sure that he's not even aware that he's doing this, or how much it hurts you.

You say that you consented to your children being brought up as meat eaters because you didn't want your views inflicted upon their young minds (as if your views were somehow wrong?). Instead you have allowed your husbands views to be inflicted on their young minds. Aren't your needs and desires just as valid and important as your husbands? And don't they deserve equal time? How would your children be harmed by that?

Children come with their own personalities, desires, and destinies, and will choose what's right for them to eat, if given the opportunity. They will end up choosing in the end, no matter what views you expose them to, just as you did at 17.

As far as meals are concerned, vegetarian and non vegetarian options can be blended without making the division obvious. Please read the SV report, Veg-NonVeg Eat Together. It goes into this topic thoroughly, and has suggested resources. You can also access other vegetarian reports

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I suggest talking this issue through with your husband - with a counselor, preferably, to make sure that you both get to express your views and feelings in a neutral setting, without hurting each other - and reach a solution that satisfies you both.

Judith Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian

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