Spouse won't go vegan

Hi Sassy,

I would love to entertain a vegetarian or vegan diet but my husband is a die hard meat eater. I can't convince him to change his diet or lifestyle.

Sharon W.


Sassy Sez: Hi Sharon! I hear you using the word "convince". Sort of a red flag. Are you REALLY trying to change his mind about going vegan with you? Not sure if that will work.


Because what we eat is just one of those things that is incredibly personal. While it would be fantastic if your hubby came on board with your new lifestyle (some do!), not everyone wants to go vegan.

I mean, just because this is a decision you have made for yourself, is it fair and reasonable to expect him to just drop his own beliefs about food to join you? Well, it might seem so, but it just doesn't always work this way.

But does it mean you should NOT go vegan just because he doesn't want to join you? Of course not, because that's not fair to you and what you believe is right.

Damn, it can be tough to find that happy place, being true to yourself while respecting your husband at the same time.

So, you need a plan of action...

--> One idea you might be toying with is to prepare a non-vegan meal that hubby can eat while you simply "make do" with those parts of the meal that ARE vegan, like a small pile of veggies and some bread.

Is this the answer? NO! IT SUCKS! Why should your nutritional needs fall by the wayside just because he doesn't want to go vegan?

--> So, you think maybe you can pull off preparing two meals, one for the vegan side of the household and one for the non-veg side of the household.

But who has the time for that? Very few! It can be a one-way ticket to the insane asylum!

So what is the answer? What will keep you BOTH happy?

Lone vegan in the family? Click to join us on Facebook to read our community's helpful tips and advice...

Here's what I recommend:

Prepare those foods that ALL all of us should eat on a daily basis, whether you're vegetarian or not. These foods include whole foods such as delicious veggies, hearty beans, and grounding whole grains with a smattering of nuts and seeds (chopped nuts added to a dish can bring in a wonderful meaty texture). These foods aren't "vegan" foods; they are, quite simply, FOOD! Then, if he wants to add a side of meat, chicken, or fish, he can do so. (An outdoor grill can REALLY come in handy at these times.)

On a side note: You might enjoy Cooking From Scratch for examples of amazing vegan meals make from these simple whole foods.

If being around animal products is something you just truly don't even want in your home anymore, then perhaps you can have a compromise where you eat vegan at home, but go out for meals where hubby can eat non-vegan foods.

In order to pull this off, keep "faux meats" in mind when preparing some of your meals. While faux foods are not foods that you should eat every single day (because they are, after all, processed), they CAN act as a sort of "stepping stone" for you to use in your cooking instead of diving head first into what hubby might consider "that healthy vegan stuff."

Plus, it might help him warm up to the idea of your veganism a bit more easily as you weave more and more healthy whole foods into your meals. The faux meats on the market today can be quite delicious and "meat-like".

Loafing Around With Jeff is an amazing class that will teach you how to make hearty no-meatloaves your entire family can get behind.


Comments for Spouse won't go vegan

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Here's what we do...
by: Gerry

I went totally vegan 2 years ago for health reasons. My husband and grown children did not. He eats what he wants (within our budget), and I eat totally vegan. He cooks his own meals, as do I.

I pre-soak and cook my own beans in order to avoid the salt. I do have a pressure cooker in case I run out of time to soak the beans overnight or if I just plain forget. I eat a lot of stir-fry veggies with my beans and brown rice because they are fast and easy, and I do not have a whole lot of time to cook. I also eat other whole grains, raw nuts/seeds, and raw/dried fruit (depending on what is on sale and what I like).

When it comes to the holidays, there are 2 different meals. I make whatever I choose for my meal, and the rest have the non-vegan meal that they want. They all know why I made the dietary change. We simply do not bother each other about it.

I hope this helps.

Lucky you!!!!
by: Sassy

Hi Gerry!

Thanks for sharing how you and your family work things around your home. Those of us who have hubbys who like to cook are SO fortunate, I think. I'm sure it's so much more difficult for people whose spouse doesn't like to cook, don't know how to cook, and don't even want to LEARN how to cook! It can't be easy...

Maybe the answer is for those non-cooking spouses to learn how to cook some basic things. My massage therapist said she created a cookbook with about 20 recipes in it -- very basic recipes -- that her hubby could use to make his own meals when she was working late. I loved the idea. :) xo

Keep it simple!
by: Camby

Make him a shepherds pie, tamale pie, veggie stir fry, a hearty soup - comfort food.

My husband and I are meat eaters, but I try to make most of our meals vegan/vegetarian. I him, since I'm the cook, that this is how we will be eating. It did help to watch food documentaries together. He complains when they come in the mail, but has learned a lot from watching them with me.

He cleans his vegan/vegetarian plate - every time. I make meals that we both can identify with. I have no intention of using tofu or meat substitutes - ever. I do not use complicated recipes that call for special trips, to special stores, for special ingredients. Too many ingredients and I'll pass on the recipe. Keep it simple and make him foods that he likes. Read the ingredients out loud to him. He will let you know. The night I want to have sweet potato black bean burritos (my favorite - he hates them), he fends for him self. I don't know what to tell you if he hates veggies...

At which store do you shop?
by: Sassy

Hi Camby --

That's great to hear. Curious if you do the majority of your shopping at a place like Whole Foods? Or another larger grocery store? A co-op? I love that you can make great whole food meals that your non-veg hubby loves without spending a fortune -- fantastic! :) xo

Husband won't try Vegan at all!!!
by: Cindy

Hi, i was reading all the comments here and thought this is a good place to post! I have been eating Vegan around 2 1/2 mths now. I have to buy alot of my own food because my Husband does the grocery shopping and will not buy the "vegan" stuff cause it costs more! Also won't eat it either!! Anyway it is really hard cooking for two diffferent ways. Are there any easy cook books with meals i could afford and please both of our life choices?? I love this website but i am struggling! Any suggestions!! Thanks

by: Some ideas...

Hi Cindy!

I don't know of any cookbooks that cover this topic but MAN is it needed! This is a very popular question that many families face because it's rare that both spouses/partners want to go vegan at the same time.

I can totally understand how someone who still eats meat/dairy/eggs would want to shy away from the fake stuff. I mean, why eat the faux meats and cheeses when he can just eat the "real thing", ya know?

I mean, setting aside why WE think it's a good idea to stay away from animal products, that's not really what I meant. :)

The best advice I can give is to...

1. Purchase some amazing cookbooks and learn how to cook with whole foods (see some of my recommendations on my Best Vegan Books page).

2. Or just go back to basics and learn how to cook all these whole foods from scratch (like beans, grains, veggies, etc.) and how to put them together to make meals that you can BOTH eat. That's really the main emphasis here at Vegan Coach. It's really the quickest way to cook, without recipes.

You can get some idea of how to make meals like this on my Cooking From Scratch page. Cooking this way covers you both nutritionally and allows you to make just one main meal. Then you can add things like meat or cheese or eggs or whatever to your hubby's dish as needed to make him happy. :)

Just some ideas to get you started. I'm sure others will chime in with their thoughts as well.

If you have any questions whatsoever, please fire away! xo! Sass

Re: spouse won't go vegan
by: Anonymous

Hi all -

Sassy hit the nail on the head!

I've been vegetarian for about 15 months and vegan for about 6 (off and on), but now firmly committed. My husband, Justin, has not gone on the journey woth me, so we have made some compromises.

He doesn't cook meat in the house at all (which I SO appreciate!!), but we have compromised on eggs. He loves them and it's something I don't enjoy seeing or smelling, but can tolerate. He will eat meat when we go out to eat and I'll admit, I hate it, but, as Sassy said, he has a right to do what he feels he should do. That said, I really struggle with not understanding how he can eat those poor animals after all I have told him. It's just a constant battle in my mind, one I'm not sure will be easy, but I really appreciate his respect for me to not cook it in the house.

He really likes the faux meats! So, we keep a stock pile for him in the freezer. Simple truth at King soopers has some great and tasty stuff!

If you're in this same boat, I know how hard it is. But, I always remember that at one time I ate meat and that changed so there's hope he may as well. BUT, if he chooses not to, I'm prepared for that as well. Just take it a day at a time and stay true to what YOU believe!

Why force your significant other?
by: Anonymous

I and my wife have been married for nine years and I've been vegan for whole time. I have not tried to convince her to change her nutritional preferences, not meaning she hasn't tried. Actually we eat mostly vegan dishes, when I cook them as well as ahe does. She just has a need to eat animal products, and I feel that diet is very personal thing which is better not to be forced to way or another. Our son likes vegan foods, but he's omnivore too. Although, when they get food at kindergarten, staff there says that he prefers vegetables but eats meat too when suggested. What is my opinion in the light of very personal things which nutritional choices are, is best to not force anyone to one's own choices. If spouse has difficulties following others' diets', why not to let them be how they wish, as they are loved for what they are?

Yes, yes, a thousand times YES! :)
by: Sassy

Love it. Just love it. Thanks for your comments. So important to spread the love and allow your loved ones to be who they are.

And maybe, just maybe, they'll find their own way to vegan. There's really nothing like a positive role model, leading by example.

B.R.A.V.O. :)

Not just a personal choice
by: Sandra

A lot of these comments seem to refer to eating animals or not as a personal choice. It is not a personal choice - non- human animals are not being given a choice.

Still, I understood that so long as it is legal to slaughter animals and to use their milk, you can't force someone to stop. My partner doesn't see eye-to-eye on this. He still looks at animals as products. As uncomfortable as I am with this, I am unwilling to separate from him as we have a young child, and I believe that separating would be more for my comfort than what is best for her.

So for now, I ask him to handle any animal products he brings into the home. He doesn't eat meat much, it is mostly dairy, which is at least a supplement food rather than an ingredient in a main dish. He does cook vegan versions of his favourite food once a week or so, which I appreciate, and he eats vegan food that I make. I find it a lot of work to cook vegan comfort food that he will like, but it is bettter than arguing with him to eat simple meals. He eats meat out, so I don't love going out to eat with him but it works sort of, for now. I wish my child didn't see him eating animal products but it would be much more if we had separate households.

Feeling your pain...
by: Serena

I really understand how you all feel about your spouses not joining you on your vegan journeys. My husband will simply not countenance it. And i find it makes our relationship quite difficult. It's very hard to understand why someone would continue to eat animal products when totally aware of how much it upsets their loved one. My husband very evidently cares neither for the planet nor the Non-human animals which are desperately trying to live on it. It really does make you wonder who this person is who shares your life. It makes me feel sad. And alone. I really sympathise with the other women struggling with these issues. I also feel that simply 'allowing people to eat what they want' is not the answer. We need change! Or biiiiiiig trouble is coming. Fast. It is our DUTY to speak up for animals. They cannot after all.

i cannot see him eating meat anymore
by: dolly

hi all
It has been 2 years now that I am married. its a love marriage . i am a strict vegetarian but my husband loves non veg food. he promised to go vegetarian but has not been successful till today.

I am now not able to see him eat meat anymore. I tried my best to share my knowledge with him with regards to animal slaughter and why he should stop eating meat. It seems that he is so habituated to meat that even slaughtering animals doesnt affect him. His whole family is non vegetarian and so he never agrees to leave meat even on spiritual grounds.

Please help me what should i do ? How do i make him understand this ?

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