Vegan vs Non-Vegetarian Dispute Over Food & Kids

Love-Lorn Non-Veg Disagrees with Veg Girlfriend About Future Children

Couple Arguing Over Food

My girlfriend very recently became vegetarian again. She was vegetarian and then vegan many years ago and then slowly started eating some meat again for the past few years because of the ease of it. I am a non-vegetarian.

She is a strong animal rights advocate and that is why she chose to be vegetarian (rather than choosing because she believes it is a healthier lifestyle). We just had a conversation where she essentially said that she did not respect me nor anyone who while being an informed food consumer and knowing what is done on farms and slaughterhouses, still chose to eat meat.

She said that she would raise her kids vegetarian, which is ok by me but I still choose to eat meat. I asked her about a situation in which while our future children would be informed about the food industry but still chose to eat meat, she said that she would want them to get their own job to purchase the meat that they want to eat.

I disagree a lot with this latter issue because I believe that if our children are informed, I will not pass judgement and would respect them more in terms of what their food choices were (if they choose to be vegetarian or vegan, than so be it).

I do not disrespect my girlfriend but I am quite furious when she tries to push her propaganda on me (facts about the industry that I already know about) and I am extremely upset and disappointed about not being respected for a choice that I am making.

I personally feel that I prefer to prioritize my passions, and what I will fight or stand up for with regard to human rights and civil liberties. Animal rights just doesn’t rile me up in the same way as it does for her and others.

How do we get past this point of respect? What are conversation points that we can discuss to try to find a middle ground?

She is on an extreme end and thinks that I am ultimately the complete opposite of her because I choose to eat meat. I just think we differ on this issue based on the priorities and passions that we have set our lives to focus on.

What do you think? Please help. She is the love of my life -K. Cheng

Savvy Vegetarian Advice:

Personally, I feel that you two could use the services of a relationship counselor, which I’m not. Food and kids are a big source of conflict, and you’ve got both of them going.

But I ran this by my daughter Zoe, who is a life long vegetarian (but not vegan), with a non-vegetarian spouse. They’ve got a workable compromise, and they’ve worked hard at making mutual respect the foundation of their relationship.


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Zoe made some good points:

Your girlfriend’s speech has taken you into endgame territory, which means your relationship is on the brink of being over.

Trespassing is the big issue. (I see it as a power struggle). Each wants to dominate the territory of food and kids that the other occupies.

The only way forward is to meet in the middle and establish ground rules for your NEW common territory. Keep these points in mind when you do:


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Relationships are based on mutual respect. Respect means accepting the other person AS THEY ARE, not as who you think they should be. You can’t expect your adult partner to change themselves for you.

Choosing someone’s diet for them is like choosing their religion.

Children are people, not possessions. Both partners must agree that future children get to choose their diet when they’re old enough. Until then, parents agree on the primary diet in the household, WHICH EVERYBODY EATS.

My suggestions:

Since you don’t have a particular food idealogy, except a reluctance to change your diet, follow the principal that compassion for any group – people or animals – extends to all others, including the love of your life.

But remember, the guiding principle for compromise is that you BOTH bend.

So, for example, you could agree that you’ll eat the food your girlfriend prefers when you eat together at home, with the agreement that you add what you want on the side or when you eat out. If she doesn’t want you to cook meat in the house, then work around that.

If you both can agree to a workable food compromise, great! If not, keep in mind that it’s possible to have more than one love of your life.

For more practical suggestions, download our free report, Veg/Non-Veg Together.

Judith Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian

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6 Responses to “Vegan vs Non-Vegetarian Dispute Over Food & Kids”

  1. Irene says:

    Hi, i’m Irene and i’m vegan. I agree with your friend because I don’t understand people who said that respect the animals and defense their rights, but then they eat meat or fish, or a worse something which is drink milk.
    Well, I agree with your friend on this way but i not agree at all because i think if you encourage a child eat only vegetarian products and your encourage a child to trim the fat with this way of life is possible that they have problems in their childhood. I think everybody have right to choose this.

  2. Savvy Veg says:

    Thanks for your comments. The way you describe your family life – that’s exactly what I’m talking about. And I agree with your take on the situation. Without mutual respect, it’s not possible to compromise. My 2 cents! :-)

  3. Dominique says:

    We have a household with a variety of diets in it. This topic hit pretty close to home for me, not because of the conflict, but rather the problem with dealing with multiple diets. A bit of background first.
    We are a typical family, husband, wife (me) son and daughter. I was vegetarian for a couple of years and then fell off that wagon.
    When our daughter was five, she came to us and wanted to have an adult conversation. Over the next half-hour she gave us her well-thought out reasons for wanting to be a vegetarian (all about avoiding cruelty to animals). With the arguments she presented,we felt that this was something she had thought about and was serious. So, the only concession we asked was that she eat what we prepared for her (vegetarian). Quite honestly, we thought it was a phase she was going through and we were happy to humor her. It’s been 10 years now, so we think it’s no longer a phase. I have since gone high-raw vegan and the men in the family are still omnivores. That’s three relatively different plates for each meal time. But we’ve made it work.
    The approach we have taken is to respect each other’s choices and not try to change anyone to our own beliefs.
    I can’t help but feel that the girlfriend in this situation is being nothing more than a bully. From what you posted as the problem, she is not being respectful of her partner’s choice and feels the need to impose her way of thinking on him and any future children. This is not a good way to ensure a long-lasting, respectful relationship. I believe that the boyfriend should move on and find someone who will be more respectful of him. Not an easy thing to do, I know. But they might both be happier in the long run.
    Did you notice how many times that word, respectful, was used? Because that is what is at the bottom of this problem.
    One last point/example. My daughter had been a veggie for a year when she approached me with another point while I was barbecueing steaks. She told me that we should all be vegetarians like her because we were making animals suffer. I smiled at her, told her I had been waiting for her to bring that up. We then talked about the respecting others’ views issue. I told her we respected her choice, and now she needed to respect ours. She wasn’t happy, but then again, she was only six. She now is a comfortable veggie who doesn’t push her views on others, will answer questions about her lifestyle if asked, and will be respectful of her friends when they go to McD’s for lunch.
    Compromise is a great thing, but respect for the other should trump that.
    My 0.02 cents.

  4. Jamie says:

    I wish the writer had explained how he can know how animals are treated – is aware of the torture and cruelty they endure every day so meat can be mass-produced – and expect someone to respect his choice. Most people do not know much about the food industry and in that case, it’s hard to blame them. But to know and still do it? To not at least switch to pasture-raised animals and attempt to minimize the cruelty? It’s very hard to understand – and I would like to. I wish he had attempted to explain, but I guess it comes down to people being selfish and weak. I know this is all counter to the idea of respect and getting along, but not all actions can be respected.

    The compromise of keeping a vegetarian home while having each spouse choose what they want to eat outside sounds fair. As for the kids, they won’t be old enough to make a reasonable choice on this matter until they’re old enough to get parttime jobs. They can’t expect to use their mother’s money in a way she doesn’t believe (and it’s not going to kill them – quite the opposite – to eat vegetarian until they go off to college or move out for other reasons.

  5. Savvy Veg says:

    Hi Sri, thanks for the grammar update! Fixed now. And yes, you’re right – there does seem to be a lot of ‘me, me, me’ going on here, but that’s typical for us human beings, don’t you think? Compromise doesn’t come easy.

  6. sri v says:

    All I can see is ego/ gratification and not love or compromise! The couple have to get over these.
    Incidentally when you write “follow the principal that compassion for any group” the spelling should be principle; a principal is either a head of an institution or the capital amount(money)

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