Vegetarian Needs Help with Non-Veg Boyfriend

Loves being vegetarian, but boyfriend of four years is the king of carnivores! She completely supports him but he does not support her at all

Couple Crisis

When I was growing up, my family was extremely anti-veg. It was pretty much meat and dessert type thing.

Now as I live on my own I realize my love for being a vegetarian. My boyfriend (soon to be fiance) of four years is the king of carnivores! And I completely support him but he on the other hand does not support me in it at all.

He is in an Anatomy class and believes and has told me time and time again that being a vegetarian is “unhealthy due the the fact that the human body needs MEAT protein” as he calls it. I have told him that if its the protein he’s concerned with I can eat more protein based foods and even take protein pills…but yet he is standing solid.

I really want to continue with the way I am, but with the way he is always pushing the meat subject it really starts to wear on me.
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Can you give me some actual FACTS I can maybe throw to him and show him I can still be a healthy human being without have to eat a cow a day? Especially any protein facts…
It would be most most helpful, thank you so much – Miss Vegetarian

Savvy Vegetarian Advice:

I’ve gotten quite a few letters like yours, and they always break my heart! This is an important relationship issue that keeps coming up for vegetarian women, and goes way deeper than who eats what.

The truth is it’s not about the protein. It’s about control – i.e. your boyfriend controlling you. You may not think of him as abusing you, or be able to accept it, but that’s exactly what this is about.

If you let your boyfriend dictate what you eat – you’re letting him decide who you get to be. Like most abusers, he’ll start with that and go onto other parts of you that aren’t to his liking.

Then he’ll start punishing you, psychologically at first, not physically necessarily, but it can easily progress to that. Even if you stand firm, he’ll always be chipping away at your self-esteem, and who you are.
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There are lots of articles and advice letters about protein on Savvy Veg – here are a few that should be relevant to you:
How To Get Enough Protein In Your Vegetarian Diet
Protein Sample Menus
Plant Food Protein Chart
Veg Advice: What To Eat For Protein Besides Meat

But no matter what facts you have at hand to back up your choice – you shouldn’t have to explain your food choices to your boyfriend. If you do have serious health issues because of poor nutrition, that’s easily fixed without eating meat.

There’s plenty of info about that too in our nutrition report. A good book to have (and read and learn by heart!) is ‘Becoming Vegetarian’, the veggie nutrition bible, by RDs Melina and Davis. Every vegetarian should have a copy!

Please think twice about marrying your boyfriend! Your needs have to be met as well as his – that’s true in any relationship!

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16 Responses to “Vegetarian Needs Help with Non-Veg Boyfriend”

  1. Jen says:

    I have been going through the same thing with my boyfriend of 8 years. It is controlling behavior and on the edge of becoming a form of abuse. The problem is people only see abuse as yelling and screaming and hitting, but the fact is there are various forms of abuse and this is absolutely one of them. Abuse can also be emotional (with holding affection and it can be mental (wearing her down with his constant "questioning of her diet".) I hope Miss Veggie figures this out before she wastes as much time as I have with someone who couldn't just let me be me. If you are with someone who doesn't love you for who you are, whether or not it is abusive, why bother? Why would you want to be with someone who is constantly telling you that you are wrong and trying to change you.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I agree that this behaviour is controlling. I went through something very similar myself and was asking the same questions – was it concern or abuse. I had a boyfriend of 6 months and even though he knew I was vegetarian before we started dating and it didn't seem an issue then, he tried to move me away from my veggie principles as soon as we got together. He has even described it as a 'sickness' even though I've been veggie for over 20 years, am in great health and am a successful athlete. I am also very informed about nutrition and read up on the subject in depth, but he wasn't interested in hearing any of my views on the subject as he'd made his mind up without researching it at all. My personal opinion is that you are best out of this type of relationship.

  3. J Kingsbury says:

    Hi Devil’s Advocate: The boyfriend may care about Miss Veg, and be concerned, but that’s not the point. The point is that his behavior is very controlling, and not up for discussion. Please read her letter again, carefully, and then read my line by line explanation from May 9 of why I consider his behavior abusive.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Just to play devil’s advocate, is it possible that the boyfriend honestly cares about Miss Veggie and is (as a result of misinformation, perhaps) worried about her health? I’m an omnivore myself — I rarely eat meat, but if it’s put in front of me I still enjoy it — and when a vegetarian friend tells me I should go fully veg and get my protein exclusively from plant sources, is that abusive behaviour?

  5. Anonymous says:

    I am speaking from experience and it will only increase and it can turn abusive. It is about control. I promise you. And this issue will be a huge problem if you have kids. My ex-husband once beat me because I refused to help his family slaughter a pig. Maybe my experience was more severe but it’s still a perfect example.

  6. Claire says:

    Controlling… it’s the thin end of the wedge of abuse. Denying someone’s right to choose what to eat – i agree with the ‘a’ word. Why marry someone you will have to disagree with at least 3 times a day… especially if he thinks it’s his ‘right’ to not leave it alone and continually remind her of how ‘wrong’ she is. I agree with J Kingsbury’s definition and advice.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Miss veg,

    Judy is right, his behavior is abusive. Wearing you down is not ok. Let him know you want him to stop. Ban the subject. If he won’t respect the ban, he has failed a crucial test and can’t be considered marriage material. There are better men out there. Lots of them. Don’t settle.

  8. J Kingsbury says:

    A friend I told about this comment thread suggested I change my depiction of the boyfriend’s behavior from ‘abusive’ to ‘controlling’ or ‘trespassing’. Sorry, but that still sounds like abuse to me – I guess I have a broader definition than most people.

  9. J Kingsbury says:

    Two comments on Twitter from @revidescent:
    “Abusive would be forcing her to eat meat and yelling. We only have one side of the story. He seems misinformed but concerned.”
    “Even she seems uneducated about her own nutrition, which makes me worry.”

  10. J Kingsbury says:

    Anon, you’re such a cynic! Sad but true though, as soon as you marry a guy, he turns into a husband – at least his idea of what a husband. In this case, I think you’re right.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Whatever he does or demands while dating will increase after marriage, when he is no longer on his best behavior, but being himself in his own home. The best Miss Veg will be able to hope for is to cook meat for him and, eventually, the children–and eat vegetarian herself–but probably this will not work, either. She must choose between this guy and her vegetarian lifestyle–maybe he is worth it, but probably not.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Whatever he does and whatever he demands while dating–will increase after marriage–when he will no longer be on his “best” behavior–but being himself in his own home.

    She will need to give up being a vegetarian to marry this guy. Maybe he’s worth it–probably he’s not.

  13. J Kingsbury says:

    Thanks to Ben & Anon for your comments.

    On re-reading Miss Veg's letter, I'm sticking with my original take on this, which is that the boyfriend's behavior is abusive.

    She loves being a vegetarian and wants to continue, she said that she accepts his being a meat eater, and supports him, but that he doesn't support her preferences. He tells her 'time and time again' that her vegetarian diet is unhealthy. She has tried to re-assure him about her protein intake, but he is 'standing firm' and 'is always pushing the meat subject.' It's 'really starting to wear' on her – to the point that she's desperate enough to post a letter on a public forum!

    This isn't the behavior of a 'normal, tender, loving guy'. He's trespassing on her personal boundaries, he's telling her what she should eat (and by extension who she should be), as though he has the right. He won't discuss the issue with her. He's trying to wear her down until she does what he wants her to do – even though it's not what she wants. There's not much 'truth and love' in all that.

    He may not 'become abusive' from this point. He already is. What I said was that mental abuse may escalate into physical abuse – as it often does.

    It's possible that he's not an abuser by nature, and that these two just have a lot of growing up to do. People can behave badly, but learn and grow and become better people. I hope that he learns to respect personal boundaries, and that she learns how to be strong in herself.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I am in complete agreement with Ben (above) and believe the other advice was extreme, surely the one speaking that he may become abusive from this point… wow!

  15. ben says:

    Hi Ms.Veggie,
    OK, here are some facts that your “anatomy” boyfriend should research. They are simply this:
    1. Carnivores sweat through their tongues and vegetarians all sweat through their skins or pores.
    2. The strongest manmals on this planet are vegetarians. eg. elephants, buffaloes, rinos ect..
    3. Carnivores have extremely short intestines so that rotty meats don’t stay in their systems long enough to cause posioning. Tigers for instance have about 7 feet of it and humans have more than 30.
    4. In the state og Gutarache in India, who are of a strict vegetarian sect. They number over 20 miliion. Can they all be wrong and still surviving a heatlthy normal life?
    5. And a comment of abusing…I think that’s a bit harsh. I am sure, he’s a normal tender loving guy…otherwise you won’t like him. I trust your judgement of people because you are a vegetarian…? Anyway, he has the right to his preference as do you. You support him and he doen’t you…agree to disagree…that’s cool…truth and love will always overcome!
    Cheers!
    Ben

  16. Savvy Veg Facebook says:

    A couple of comments wound up on the Savvy Veg FB Page https://www.facebook.com/savvyvegetarian thought they were pretty good, so here they are:
    1)The proper place for lovers who attempt to decide who you are and what you do is THE CURB.
    What you eat is your choice alone. No exceptions. Miss Veg, tell this trespassing boyfriend to love you and your diet, or there’s the door.
    2)You do not have to date, but you do have to eat! You should eat what you feel is right for you- you wouldn’t let someone else choose who you marry so don’t let them choose what you eat!Do what is right for you.

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