When I went vegan almost 10 years ago, it was going to either make or break my relationship with my non-vegan husband.
But with a decade of vegan living now under my belt, I’m happy to say that “Steph and Dave” are stronger than ever! And Team Dreyer (the name I coined for my family)? We’re thriving as a family of omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans.
My choice to go vegan was abrupt (after reading The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone) and extreme (I did it overnight and haven’t looked back since). I made the transition alone without any support or help from my husband. Although he admired my choice, he didn’t want to take the journey with me.
Those were dark days, and if you asked me about my relationship during those first few months as a vegan, I would have told you that I didn’t know if everything was going to be okay.
Fast forward to today and not only is everything okay, but my marriage is better than ever because of my choice to go vegan. Read on for the 9 ways my marriage has become stronger because of my veganism!
1. We’ve become better communicators.
Strong, open communication is one of the most important tenets of a strong relationship.
I wasn’t vegan when my husband married me. That didn’t happen until 9 years later (and we dated for 8 years before that). My vegan transition was a major adjustment to our relationship and it definitely took time for us to find our rhythm.
The strength of our communication skills became even more important as I navigated my new diet on my own. I was no longer able to cook certain foods and he didn’t want to feel judged or attacked if he chose to eat them without me. We had to improve our communication to make each other feel understood, safe and respected.
After lots of trial and error, we have become really good at expressing what we need in a way that honors each other’s beliefs—and our marriage is stronger because of it.
2. We’ve earned more respect for each other.
If strong communication is #1 in a marriage, respect has to be a close second.
A lot of people can talk about R-E-S-P-E-C-T but when two people with different diets are committed to living together, respect is taken to a new level and boundaries are tested.
I’ve got to give my husband major props for all the ground rules he’s accepted since I went vegan. He gets major respect from me for all the changes he’s embraced in our home and daily life. Equally, he publicly admires my lifestyle and is proud of my choices.
Although we don’t always agree on specifics, we agree that it’s important to honor each other’s choices. My choice to be vegan has forced us to check our respect levels daily!
3. We’ve made compromise a way of life.
My husband likes to say: “Happy wife, happy life.”
What he really means is that we compromise!
My plant-based lifestyle has paved an openness in our relationship that allows us to navigate through marriage’s challenges in a way that ensures we each get our needs met—without giving up critical pieces of ourselves. It’s never all or nothing because that wouldn’t allow for our relationship to thrive.
As committed as I am to my vegan lifestyle and as passionate as I am about being kind to animals, I’m equally as committed to and passionate about my husband!
We always find a way to make it work so both of us feel satisfied and acknowledged—whether that’s what we’re eating for dinner or the destination for our next family trip. This extends well beyond what we’re eating but to other parts of our marriage when compromise is essential (and isn’t that just about everything in a relationship!).
4. We’ve said goodbye to judgment.
Full disclaimer: When I first went vegan, I subconsciously judged non-vegans all the time—especially my husband. I couldn’t understand how, when given the same information, he wouldn’t choose vegan like me.
Fast forward 9 years and lots (and lots) of communication and compromise. We’ve ditched the judgment and embraced acceptance instead!
We’ve become extremely clear about who we are and the values that make or break us. Because of this awareness, we’re able to accept each other “for better or worse” but also understand what’s critical for each of us to flourish in our relationship.
Acceptance has served us in many other parts of our marriage too, such as our parenting styles and domestic duties. I’ve come to accept that my husband is never going to put in his socks in the hamper. Once we learned to accept each other on a deeper level, all the other noise that comes up in a relationship became easier to manage.
I couldn’t do this life without my husband and would never want him to be anyone other than himself.
5. We’re more connected.
All of this communication, respect and acceptance brings connection. We’ve become more in touch with our feelings, our choices, and how they affect the other person. This sounds simple but it’s taken a lot of work for us to get to this place (and we’ve been together 26 years!).
We’ve become more self-realized about our choices and their impact on each other (and how that affects our family). We’re individuals but we move as a unit and it’s that connection that makes our partnership work.
6. We’re more adventurous together.
My husband and I became a lot more adventurous in our food choices after I went vegan. Living in Los Angeles, we have a great vegan community to explore and we actively seek out new restaurants together. We both also look for ways to mix in new vegan spots and activities to our travel and entertainment together.
My husband enjoys searching for opportunities to surprise me with his vegan finds and I take pleasure in sharing my favorite foods and discoveries with him. My vegan lifestyle has given us an excuse to visit new restaurants and events, keeping our marriage fresh and fun!
7. We’re more creative in our problem-solving.
Whether it’s planning my daughter’s bat mitzvah, going on a couple’s trip, or cooking Thanksgiving dinner for his family. The question is always: How are we going to make this work?
Whenever it comes to planning or hosting an event, attending a party, or some other type of social activity, my veganism always comes up to challenge the status quo. I’m A-OK with that and my husband has adapted accordingly.
It’s never all on me to figure it out either. We are partners through and through and he’s always right there to help me problem-solve, research, or press tofu!
This creative problem solving has translated into other areas of our relationship too. It’s never “We can’t do this,” but “Let’s figure out another way to do this.”
8. We’ve got each other’s backs more than ever!
My husband has always been my biggest cheerleader. But after years of watching me shake off careless comments and obnoxious jokes from non-vegans about my compassion-driven lifestyle, he’s become a walking encyclopedia of vegan information. He regularly encourages naysayers to back the heck off (with love and light, of course!).
I’m more endeared to him now than ever because of how he stands up for me. In return, I’ve been his biggest champion as he’s poured his heart into his business ventures, supporting his passions just like he has mine.
And because it’s always about the food in our house, I make sure that every meal I make is delicious and satisfying. He’s always loved my cooking but I make sure he really loves it now!
9. We live more inspired lives together.
I live by Gandhi’s words: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
My lifestyle inspires me to show up daily for my husband (and children) as the best possible version of me. It also encourages me to try to do better, live better and be better every day. Veganism isn’t just a lifestyle or diet. It’s my driving force.
That motivation makes me a happier, healthier and stronger person, which makes me sexier and more confident with my husband.
On the other side, my husband tells me that he admires my choices which have inspired him to live healthier (he’s made many vegan choices in his over the last 9 years although he’s not going 100% veg any time soon).
On the whole, we live healthier and more consciously because of the lifestyle I enthusiastically advocate for myself. Of course, that translates into a more passionate marriage and fulfilling lives together!
Hungry for more?
Check out this Plant-Powered People Podcast episode with Josie Morris about the ups and downs of married life when your partner isn’t vegan.
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