When Noah and I first met, he was a true carnivore, and I was in the “I don’t want to eat animal products, but my family will think I’m totally nuts if I go vegan” phase (I ended up going veg anyway!). He told me that in college he sometimes thought I was a bit crazy because I was vegetarian. I remember that later on, after we moved in together, whenever we would have people over for dinner and I would suggest a vegetable-focused menu, I would just get this look of total shock. How could I possibly want to feed plants (only plants!) on a plate–to our friends–and call it a dish? In his eyes, that wasn’t only a crazy idea but also offensive.
Fast forward, almost 6 years later. Noah calls himself 95% vegan. My vegan friends, especially the ethically motivated ones, still have issues with this concept because truthfully it’s hard to just eat 5% of a cow. You really can’t just cut off a little piece of it, and then let it continue to live a happy cow life.
But let’s put that aside for a second and think about the fact that Noah went from meat twice a day to a taste of it every once in a blue moon. He is almost there. To the point that taking B12 has become part of his life and that he happily tells every stranger how good he feels, how his energy and fitness has been great, and how he can eat “a ton of food without food comas anymore.” Yep, he had two vegan Philly cheese steaks for lunch on our latest trip to Philadelphia and told me he couldn’t believe how easy it was on his digestion.
The unbelievable seems to have happened. I veganized my husband, you might think. The truth is, though, he veganized himself. Ok, yes, veganism is a big topic at home. I also do most of the cooking and write a vegan blog while also managing an online vegan meal program. Not eating animals is definitely oftentimes a topic of conversation. However, I never told Noah to go vegan. I never said: “I will only marry you if you stop eating animals.” I never expected this from him because, at the end of the day, I am a strong believer that change has to come from within. And if you love someone, it’s even more important to abstain from imposing your values on that person. Even if these are your deepest convictions that keep you up at night and that you think about all day, every day.
So what happened to Noah? He started by watching some movies and asking questions about food, where it comes from and which foods are good or bad. He continued by ordering vegetarian and vegan meals at restaurants–only plant-based foods–so we could share all of it. His palate changed. He went from thinking about plants as accessories to accepting them as the main attraction, the flavorful and delicious star of the show. Eating plant-based when having people over was suddenly not a problem anymore. Last year, for example, when we hosted our friends for Friendsgiving, there was no turkey, and it suddenly seemed OK, normal, even better than without it. The final drop happened this January when Noah announced to me that he would go 100% vegan for one month. No more tuna melts at office lunches, no more “catch of the day” when going out for dinner with his family. He would ask for vegan options, find out if the chef could make him a special plant based platter, and he really started embracing it by sharing his experience with friends, coworkers, and family.
When I think about it today, the evolution seems so natural and the transition so linear. It’s almost like I woke up one day and my husband was vegan. But actually, it was a step-by-step, day-by-day journey. And the most important part: he chose it. Did I spark conversations? Answer questions? Share feeling? Yes! But all of that wouldn’t have had any importance if Noah would not have been open to change.
I’m not sure how the 5% thing will evolve, and I have no expectations–at least I try not to–but I am incredibly proud of Noah, that he decided to choose his health, the animals. and the environment, instead of short-lived and ostensive culinary pleasures.
Also by Isabelle: 6 Bulletproof Steps for Transitioning to a Vegan Diet
Related: Life with an Omnivore
Get more like this—Subscribe to our daily inspirational newsletter for exclusive content!
Photo: Wilson Sanchez via Unsplash