Vegans Married to Non-Vegans: Rebelle Husbands Tell All
Besides where we get our protein (sigh), the #1 question we Rebelles get is if Daniel and Patrick are vegan too.
The short answer? Nope!
In honor of Valentine’s Day, we wanted to share how we make it work being vegans married to non-vegans. And instead of just the the two of us blabbering away, we’re actually giving our husbands a chance to weigh in. (Shocking, we know.) Below are the most common questions we get asked, with answers from all four of us. Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all! Hope you enjoy.
Luckily my Beyoncé wind machine was in full effect here
Q: Were you vegan when you got married? What was that like?
Ensley: I had already been vegan for about four years when Patrick and I met. Finding a vegan guy wasn’t one of my non-negotiables (this is the South after all), but it was important to me to find someone who respected the fact I was vegan and would support me 100%. Patrick passed the test! He’s always been very supportive and knows that being vegan isn’t just what I eat, it’s part of who I am.
Kendra: Not even close. I don’t even recognize the 21-year-old me who got married 10 years ago. It’s amazing how Daniel and I have grown and changed over the last 10 years. I never knew that moving across the world 4 years ago would eventually lead me to adopt this wonderful lifestyle and I am so grateful for the steps that led me here.
Q: Are Daniel and Patrick vegan?
Ensley: Nope! Though we are vegan at home for the most part.
Kendra: Almost, lol. We don’t have any non-vegan food at home and it just occurred to me that Daniel doesn’t ask me to buy eggs, bacon, or milk. That’s huge! I love having such a supportive husband.
Daniel: I am not vegan but I would say I eat a 95% plant-based diet. I used to order non-vegan meals when eating out, but more and more I find myself looking for the meatless options on the menus.
Patrick: I’m not vegan but I’d say that my breakfasts and dinners are vegan. If we’re eating out, I generally order something non-vegan (unless its Bean) though.
Q: Daniel and Patrick, what was it like when your wife decided to be vegan? How do you feel about it now?
Daniel: Kendra was a vegetarian for a while first before becoming a vegan so it did not feel like a huge change when she became a vegan. Instead, it seemed like a natural and easy transition. It was probably more of a shock when she went vegetarian and stopped eating and cooking meat altogether. For a while I would cook my own meat on the side and add it to my dish. I did this for a while but Kendra started planning such amazing plant-based meals with food that I had never eaten before that slowly I started losing interest in my boring staple diet and would rather eat her delicious food. I now enjoy trying new meals with her and expanding our taste buds. Cooking has become less of a chore and more of a social event in our house where we can talk and drink a glass of wine as we cook together (this was before we had a baby craving at least one of our’s attention). If something is important to Kendra, she becomes passionate about it and will do it 110%. She is at her best as a person when she is living out her passions so I just go with the flow and try and support her as best I can even it it takes me out of my comfort zone.
Patrick: I knew she was vegan before our first date due to some pre-date stalking. Honestly, I had no idea how our date was going to go considering I spent many weekends hunting or fishing and the media seems to portray vegans as angry and pushy. She couldn’t have been farther from that. It really opened my eyes, even on the first date, to how most vegans really are. FAKE NEWS MEDIA! Kidding. I’m still very supportive of her decision to be vegan. It’s great to have a wife that cares deeply about our planet and puts real thought about what is going into her body. And I’m proud to have a wife that is so passionate about helping others become more plant-based. Whether the person just wants to dip their toe in the vegan water or do a full cannonball, she is excited for them.
Q: Are you vegan at home? How does grocery shopping/meal prep work?
Kendra: When we first got married we ate the same four things on repeat, so now we enjoy a lot more variety. I usually do the meal planning for the week on a Saturday before going grocery shopping. Everything I bring home is vegan. I try to look up some new vegan recipes each week so we’re trying something interesting. It’s easy to get in a rut with the same quick meals. I always ask Daniel to put his requests in so he gets a say in what we eat that week. Daniel is a great cook and we love preparing the meals together. Since baby O, we often have to cook separately while the other feeds, bathes, or plays with him. We sometimes don’t get to eat together (that’s been harder on me), but I’m hoping as Ollie gets into a good routine that will change.
Ensley: Since I get home earlier than Patrick, dinner is usually my arena. All the dinners we make at home are vegan, which we both love. (After years of bachelorhood, Patrick has just been very appreciative to have dinner made for him.) In the past year or so, it became really important to me to be plant-based at home. In yoga training I learned about the term sattva, which means pure love and grace. Sattvic food is that which doesn’t run away from you when you try to eat it, it doesn’t have a heart. To me, keeping the energy of our home pure meant keeping our food sattvic. Patrick was resistant at first, so I didn’t push it (it’s kind of pointless to say you want to embody grace and love when you are being controlling/demanding). Kendra’s advice was especially helpful during this time, as she had transitioned to veganism so recently. Slowly, Patrick started to realize how most meat/cheese he brought home would go to waste due to the fact that I wasn’t cooking it. These days, all of the groceries we bring home are vegan, with Patrick occasionally ordering takeout with meat/cheese in it. I’m cool with that! In terms of meal prep, we usually sit down together one evening (or Sunday afternoon), plan out our dinners for the week, and make the grocery list. Pretty simple.
Patrick: I still occasionally get cheese or have non-vegan leftovers in the fridge. Meal prep is pretty easy thanks to Forks Over Knives and Thug Kitchen. If our dinners were just lettuce and spinach then it was be hard but there are some seriously good meals in those books.
Daniel: Yes, pretty much. There’s no non-vegan food in our house except when Kendra’s mom insists I need to take some of her food home. That’s hard to say no to because she is a really good cook! Kendra has found some great cook books which are simple to follow and make it easy to plan.
Q: Daniel and Patrick, what are some of the biggest misconceptions about being married to vegans?
Daniel: I really had no idea that there was such a stereotype about vegans until Kendra became one and opened my eyes to their world. (I guess coming from South Africa which is such a meat-eating culture, I had never known any vegans before). The biggest misconception (and I get it all the time from co-workers) is that I am going to waste away on my ‘twigs and berries’ diet. They honestly think that a plant-based diet does not have the sufficient fuel to provide my body all it needs.
Patrick: As a man, that your wife is controlling you and you’ve lost all independent decision making. Not true. Ensley isn’t attracted to doormats. But as a bachelor dude I basically put no thought into what I ate. I didn’t even meal plan. Now, I still eat what I want but what I want is healthier and more plant-based. (Ensley note: he’s not exaggerating. On a “good” night he would have bacon and eggs, though most nights his dinners were a handful of cashews and a beer. Bless.)
Q: Ensley and Kendra, what are some of the biggest misconceptions about being married to non-vegans?
Ensley: I think Kendra will agree with me on this, but the misconception we are constantly battling is that we “force” our husbands to eat/live a certain way. 99% of the time people ask if Patrick is vegan out of curiosity, but there is definitely a small percentage who are really wondering if I’m his puppeteer. Our husbands are open-minded, compassionate, and intelligent men who make their own decisions. Patrick still sometimes orders meat when we go out or goes hunting, but since I wouldn’t appreciate him telling me what to do, I try to extend the same courtesy to him. Plus, there’s a reason married men live longer: wives keep them healthy!
Kendra: Ensley hit the nail on the head. People often think I forbid non-vegan food in my house or breathe over Daniel’s shoulder when he is ordering food (I only did that one time) at a restaurant. It used to bother me that Daniel wasn’t a vegan but I remembered that no one forced me to be a vegan and I love Daniel just the way he is. I love him for making his own choices and still supporting me above and beyond.
Q: Kendra and Daniel, what discussions have you had about raising a vegan child? How does that work?
Kendra: I love that we have a chunky vegan baby who is gaining weight and doing so well with my yummy vegan milk (bar a couple mac ‘n cheeses during pregnancy). There are so many great food options for us to introduce to him when he is ready, so we will continue to eat vegan at home and model a kind, compassionate lifestyle but in the end, I will let Oliver choose if he wants to eat meat, dairy and poultry if he wants.
Daniel: We both agree that a plant-based diet similar to ours is going to be good for Oliver as he grows up. We want him to understand where food comes from, the importance of a healthy diet and exercise and if he chooses to want to eat meat one day that is up to him. I must admit that it will be interesting when Oliver starts to go to birthday parties and there are no vegan cupcakes etc. Not sure yet how will handle that but we will cross that bridge when we get there.
Q: What’s surprised you the most about veganism?
Daniel: Since I knew very little about veganism before, I guess the stigma around what a vegan is ‘supposed’ to look like and act like kind of surprised me because Kendra is nothing like the pushy, snooty or judgmental person that a vegan is typically characterized as. If anything, being a vegan has made her even more of a kind, caring and thoughtful person.
Patrick: How easy it is to substitute vegan items for non-vegan items. I love Earth Balance more than butter, almond milk more than dairy milk and Vega plant-based protein more than whey. Portobellos and veggie burgers are pretty awesome too.
Q: Words of advice to vegan/nonvegan couples?
Daniel: To the non-vegan partner, try and be supportive of your spouse just like you do with other things that they are passionate about, because it is obviously something that makes them happy. To the vegan partner, you know that your non-vegan has other things about them that you wish you could change but have learned to live with (like how they squeeze the toothpaste or which way they put the toilet roll on) so don’t try and change them. They may change over time. But most importantly couples should always just be open with each other and communicate how they feel and what they are thinking.
Patrick: Compromise and be respectful. You can’t force your significant other to be a certain way. The more you try to force the more the other will push back. Also, you must talk to and get on the same page as your significant other regarding whether to raise your kids (if you have them) vegan. Pretty important. (Ensley note: I’m not pregnant yet, just chubby. But we’ve already started to have these conversations!)
Cue the “awwwwww”
Not sure if you’re ready to go vegan but want to try some tasty recipes? Our previous post with our favorite vegan cookbooks is a great place to start!
May your Galentine’s/Valentine’s Day be full of (vegan) chocolate and lots of love.