Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Vegan Dilemma

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Argh! I finally found the time, energy, and motivation (birthday cupacakes!) to write a new post a few nights ago, only to spend most of the evening searching our apartment for our connect-the-camera-to-the-computer-to-download-(or is it upload??)-photos cord. Long story short: it's still missing, which makes blogging a bit tough!

In the meantime, I thought I would share a vegan dilemma, and hopefully get some thoughts back from those of you who are reading!

First thing's first: the fun news. We have two events that need planning in the near (and quite far) future. In a couple of weeks, we'll be celebrating the bear's second birthday! We have grand ideas about a bunny shaped cake, backyard sprinkler fun, and a watermelon keg (or maybe two... one unspiked for the kiddies!). Also - we've finally set a date for our wedding! Roger and I will be getting married in August of 2011, so the time has come to find a venue, choose a dress, and host a great big party. Fun, right?

Well, here's the problem: food. As readers of this blog are likely aware, Roger is not vegan. He's incredibly accommodating, prepares most of the (vegan!) meals for our little family, makes sure the bear stays animal free, and has reduced his animal consumption greatly in the 5 years that we've known one another. But: he's not vegan.

This is occasionally a toughie for me. I think of veganism as a rights issue. It's not about preference, tradition, humane treatment, or perfectionism. I believe that animals have as much right as we do to live free of captivity, torture, and murder. I also believe that human animals have to find their own path to veganism. I mean, it's only been a year and 4 months since I went completely vegan, and expecting everyone else to have the same transition as I do at the same time as I do is simply unfair and unrealistic.

In other words, I don't spend time trying to "convert" Roger. But I DO make certain requests of him - like hosting a vegan birthday party and wedding. Although he's more than happy to plan these events as mostly vegan, he's adamant about having some non-vegan options available (like cheese for veggie burgers). He feels this way for a couple of reasons. First, he wants the guests to feel comfortable and enjoy the food. This one has an easy counter-argument in my opinion: if the food's good, nobody will care if it has animal products in it. His second reason is a bit tougher. He wants the party to be representative of him and his contribution, and he is a person who likes to eat, cook, and offer foods like cheeseburgers to his guests.

So here's where I stand: I understand that Roger wants to have a part of "him" at the party. I get it. I really do. But I struggle to reconcile that with the fact that I don't feel right about celebrating these two joyful and amazing events with the use and abuse of animals.

I know my audience is largely from the veg community, so your opinions may be a bit biased, but I imagine some of you ahve encountered similar dilemmas, and I'd love to hear your thoughts!



  1. Hmmm: why does cheese make him feel part of things? I suppose it's the restrictions (meant in a good way) of veganism that he sort of wants to relax for this party --and that makes him feel part of things.
    I don't know....
    Part of me loves to throw vegan parties to show people how it's possible to have fun with not an animal ingredient in sight; part of me wants to say to you to let him have the cheese :) This is a tough world and this might be a compromise you can make for your husband. Organic cheese, though, because the cows are treated better....
    We draw and redraw these lines all the time in order to be among people we love. i.e. I refuse to go to MacDonalds. Refuse. But then my best friend, when we were on the road, wanted to go there, so I went. It was my love for her :) and I just had some juice.
    Once I was having a party and some friends brought foie gras. Can you believe it? Foie fucking gras. Oh, from Paris, where they had just been. I just handed it right back and said no way.
    So, organic cheese once in a while o.k.; foie gras never. Is this hypocrisy or just trying to figure things out?

  2. First of all, congrats on setting a date!! I'm very excited for you!

    Secondly, I wish I had some magical answer to this dilemma. I mean on the one hand, marriage, partnership, planning a wedding, etc. is all about compromise, as I'm sure you already know. On the other hand you both deserve to feel like your authentic selves.

    Is there a way other than cheese through which Roger can feel he's represented (is there something else that he can absolutely get his way on that you're not particularly keen on to level the playing field)? Is there a vegan cheese slice alternative?

    Would you be able to stomach a celebration with some non-vegan options? Sounds like you're not sure where you want to draw the line (not when it comes to animals, but when it comes to respecting your partner's values as well) or where you should - and I'm not sure either. Good luck!

  3. Congratulations! A wedding is a big deal, especially when you have different opinions- as every couple does.

    Even though we are coming up our fourth wedding anniversary, I still feel inexperienced. Marriage is hard...Every day is a new compromise. On my wedding day, I was not vegan, and had no strong feelings about the food that was served- I didn't even get to eat it! But I wanted my guests to be happy...

    Your guests will be so happy if not only to see you make your vows to each other, but even if they are served carrot sticks. But, your issue isn't even about if your guests are happy, its if your husband to be is happy. And it is his day, too. So if he truly feels that strongly about having certain food that he wants to serve, let him. I mean, you can have it intermixed, or clearly point out what is vegan and what isn't.

    It is a day of happiness, and you both need to be able to be happy. I guess if he could really find a good source of local, organic food, even if it is animal, you will still be able to feel good about what you chose to serve for your vegan fare...

    Good luck, either way. It sounds like your future husband is already good at compromising and supporting your lifestyle- (My husband doesn't cook at all!) You guys should do just fine, and enjoy the big day- good thing you have a year to plan it!

  4. Well, I don't know Roger, but it's only one meal. One of my family members (not veggie or vegan) had a barbecue the day after her wedding. If your budget can support it, would that not be a good occasion for Roger to go wild with cheese? It seems a slightly odd thing for him to choose as representing him, surely he has some hobby or whatever that could be strongly represented?

  5. Okay. Here's a further thought. Write down five words or phrases that describe yourself. Exclude "partner", "parent", etc, because they apply to Roger. Also exclude "aunt" and similar, not because they're not important, but because we can safely assume Roger's family is important to him as well, whether or not he is a biological uncle to anyone.

    Is "vegan" one of your five words?

    Get Roger to do the same exercise.

    Is "cheese lover" or "loves to share his love of cheese with friends" on his list?

  6. Hi, I came across your post because I am trying to plan a vegan wedding and am looking for menu ideas.

    I'm having the same discussion, but not with my fiance, with my parents. My future husband is not vegan either, but he is a vegetarian (and supportive of my veganism). Also as you mentioned I'm a somewhat new vegan (um, almost 10 months, but a long time vegetarian 12 years). It's REALLY important to me that my wedding be vegan, but for some reason my parents keep trying to get me to add cheese, which I honestly don't think will make a difference in anyone's perception. No one who's not going to be upset because there's no meat (which they will know by the menu options on the invitation, so I'm hoping if it's so important as to upset them they just won't come) will not be less upset if there's cheese, as as long as the food is good, no one who doesn't care that it's veg will probably even notice that its vegan. Fortunately my boyfriend supports the vegan wedding idea and has actually encouraged me to stand up to my parents on it.

    I guess it depends on how strongly you feel about it. It's very important to me that my celebration day does as little harm as possible to animals. Don't let anyone make you feel bad for making the compassionate choice. <3

  7. I say just go with it. My husband is a meat eater, and is also accomodating with me and my choices, so why not be accomodating to your future husband. Split the menu and include joint foods so you can both enjoy your day!

  8. Congratulations! Look, I've been to fabulous weddings at which everything was vegan. The food was by far superior to what I'm used to at weddings (perhaps because the couples made more of an effort on the food?) and nobody complained at all.

    As a fellow vegan, I want to tell you to stand your ground. If looking back on your wedding years from now, it will disturb you to know that animals were exploited to appease others' appetites, how can that be worth it? But on the other hand, the wedding should reflect both of you.

    It's over a year away. You have many things to settle on before you order the food, with or without cheese. I'd focus on the location, guest list, budget, honeymoon, and dress for a while. For all you know, your partner will be vegan by this time next year! Here's hoping. =)


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© Allison, The Busy (Happy!) Vegan, 2010