Pregnancy, Relationships, Freedom of Choice

Every person is a sovereign individual, entitled to make their own choices

Soapbox

WARNING for all of you who have been enjoying my humorous pregnancy posts:

I’m standing on a soapbox now. This is your chance to plug your ears and shout, “La la la, I can’t hear you!”

If you are annoyed by what I have to say, remember that these are my opinions and you don’t have to agree – but I am pregnant and you have to be nice to me.

Recently, Savvy Veg posted a relationship advice letter that got me riled up and inspired me to get up on my soapbox. Maybe the pregnancy hormones had something to do with it.

Anyway, in this letter, the non-veg boyfriend complains that his newly zealous vegan girlfriend is trying to force him and any future children into veganism, using emotional blackmail.

That situation brought to mind one of my favorite poems, by Stephen Crane:

“Think as I think,”
Said a man.
“Or you are abominably wicked –
you are a toad.”
And after I had thought of it,
I said,
“I will then, be a toad.”

Cro-o-a-a-k-k!

I’ve learned life lessons from family, experience and good books, which have served me well in tough times. Let me share one of the big lessons I’ve learned about relationships:

Emotional blackmail is not a useful or sustainable relationship tool.

Sure, you can manipulate your partner and get your way, using whatever leverage you have. But why not skip the ugliness and the emotional baggage – and just break up now? People come together because they want to be together. All you can really do is make each other welcome. Or not.

I’m amazed when people are devoted to animal rights but blind to the need for ethical treatment of their loved ones. No matter what strong beliefs you hold, they don’t give you the right to force others to believe the same. Every person is a sovereign individual, entitled to make their own choices.

We all like the lovey snuggly parts of a relationship. The couch sitting, face stroking moments – that’s what we’re in it for. I know I am.

I also like the coming home to a clean kitchen and tasty smelling dinner moments. (Speaking of dinner, I just made an amazing tomato soup – so glad to be past the tomato-hating first trimester!)

But in order to have those lovey moments, first we’ve got to agree on what’s for dinner, and other more thorny issues.

One of the things Bryan and I did, which made our road a lot smoother, was to settle the big issues early on, before we were even engaged. And that’s an on-going process.

We’re like two sovereign nations negotiating trade agreements and border policy. If you want the good times, we’ve learned you must come to the table with respect, and leave your pride at the door (that last bit is really hard for me).

There’s no trespassing here, no massing of troops at the border. Just honest conversations about how we can stay together happily, given our differences on the issues.

Having those agreements between us means that Bryan can be completely supportive of my pregnancy, with no need for tense negotiations that I’m not up for right now.

It’s enough to think of all the challenges that come with parenting, and wonder where I’ll find the necessary patience and strength. I’m so glad I can count on Bryan’s patience and strength to help me through!

When we got pregnant, we had already agreed to raise the baby vegetarian. We eat vegetarian at home, and when our child is old enough, she’ll be free to choose her own diet. The way I’ve been eating lately, I suspect the kid will be a fruitarian!

I think people sometimes forget that their kids are also people, who belong to themselves and make their own decisions. Many Savvy Veg readers are first generation vegetarians, and have suffered family conflict about their diets. Imagine how much pain could have been avoided if their families accepted their dietary decisions?

I am resolved that I will share with my child the things I believe, and the lessons I’ve learned, and allow her the right to make her own choices. Most important is that she knows she has my love and support, and feels welcome in our family always.

Speaking of family, when I have the baby, Mom will come to stay, and we’ll be eating vegan. Partly because she’ll take over the kitchen (she can’t help herself), and also because accommodating her diet makes her feel welcome. In turn she’ll be fine if we fry an egg, or butter our toast, or help ourselves to the Parmesan cheese.

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6 Responses to “Pregnancy, Relationships, Freedom of Choice”

  1. Savvy Veg says:

    Thanks, Robin! That’s been my daughter’s experience as well. In fact, many women I know have had this happen. We have much more power and influence than we often assume!

  2. Robin says:

    I’ve never forced my feelings on anyone. But when I made the switch my fiance was upset that I wouldn’t be making chicken anymore. I advised he could buy it and give me a couple days notice when he wanted it. I promised I would cook it occasionally under those conditions. It was not going to be on my grocery list anymore though. He has never purchased chicken since that day and now only eats it when we are at a restaurant. He was also concerned about our unborn kids being vegan b/c of the social aspect. I advised he would need to cook the kids dinner if he wanted them to eat meat. He doesn’t want to be the main cook so I guess I will have it my way. He is actually happy this way and no longer thinks it’s weird. Although he does call me a hippie from time to time. We just discovered one of his male friends and his wife transitioned to a vegan diet a year ago. So even less weird to him now that he has a friend doing the same things! It’s been pretty easy and he’s loved almost everything I cook.

  3. Magic Flight says:

    You can never push it, it is hard for my husband to. hang in there, he will come around.

  4. Linda says:

    I am vegetarian and basically the only one in my family. Fortunately, for the most part we all respect each other’s right to eat what we want (with some good-natured kidding once in a while). I have had some members express interest in having more vegetarian dishes and I always bring a veg dish to each gathering that I think they will all enjoy. I agree that leading by example and not by guilt or coercion is the best way.

  5. Alicia says:

    All sounds good to me! My husband and I are both veg. Fortunately, we came to this decision around the same time, albeit separately. When we got pregnant with our son, we decided to raise him vegetarian, but we are not opposed to him trying meat if he wants. So far all meat-eating attempts by our loving families have been unsuccessful in getting him to eat any in the last 3 years. (Although my son has informed me he loves hot dogs, even though he has never ha one, veg or otherwise!). Our rule is that he can have meat if he wants but we won’t be making it at home. Best wishes to you!!

  6. Jennifer says:

    I made the mistake of trying to force my husband into being veg. It backfired like crazy!! He started getting very upset with me, and I was upset with him for not listening to me. But I learned that trying to guilt him into being veg isn’t productive, nor is it very nice. When I started easing up on him, he actually became interested in the idea and started slowly transitioning (: We both still struggle, but we are making this journey together, and it’s much more enjoyable! The best thing we can do is lead by example!

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