"How about your husband?"

How does he eat?  Is he vegan too? 

If I had a nickel for every time someone asked that question…well…I wouldn’t quit my day job or anything, but still, it happens a lot.

Kyle prefers to remain unlabeled, and I think that’s perfect.  It’s definitely easier than saying he’s a sometimes vegetarian who eats cheese, but drinks almond milk and is high raw and vegan when his wife cooks, but occasionally orders meat when he’s at a nice restaurant and it’s from a responsible source.  Right? 

It’s only natural that our habits and preferences rub off on one another and because I do a considerable amount of cooking, he ends up eating quite a bit of vegan food.  He likes my cooking so it’s a win win, but he’s also quite proficient in the kitchen.  Lately, however, tofu and veggie burgers have replaced animal meat even when he’s cooking for himself.


Since he has no intolerances, the reasons he chooses to eat a plant-based diet are entirely his own [so I am hesitant to answer for him].  But I know everyone is curious, so I’d guess it’s due to two main things: (1) his health, (2) his wife.

His transition has been gradual and entirely of his own accord and while I’m certainly encouraging of veganism, I’m also aware that diet is a personal choice.  That said, the health benefits are undeniable, so by watching documentaries like "Forks Over Knives" and giving him cds burned with Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s podcasts and cooking and baking delicious vegan food, I’m probably a bit more proactive in recruiting him to the vegan side than the average wife.

Nevertheless, my goal has never been to "make Kyle vegan."  However, my goal is to have a healthy husband I can grow old with and I do think a plant based diet gives us the edge, health-wise. 


Truth be told, Kyle has never been much of a "meat & potatoes" guy, at least as long as I’ve known him.  His vices are chocolate, peanut butter and wheat thins (so it’s not like he’s going from the double down to hummus). 

And don’t forget about that vegan company that he tried to start up.


His weaning has been gradual and a few months ago he decided to try and eat a mostly vegetarian diet. The exceptions are few and far between and never when we are cooking at home – he had turkey on Thanksgiving and occasionally orders seafood while dining out – but aside from those rare moments, he now opts for meatless meals.

So to everyone who writes to me asking "how do I make my boyfriend/family member/husband/etc go vegan?" – the answer is you can’t.  It’s a decision that only that individual can make for him/herself. 


But I do have a few pieces of advice. 

1. Coercing won’t work, so stick with compelling.  Make delicious meals that will be tempting for any and every palate.  Many people just assume that veganism is nothing more than salads, so if you present it in another light, it can be mind blowing and all the more compelling.  Mexican food is a great place to start.

2. Be supportive.  It’s not an easy path so if there are moments of weakness when cravings win, don’t judge and don’t discourage.  And make sure to celebrate the progress. 

3. Be respectful.  People don’t want to be lectured and they don’t want to be talked down to.  As is the case in any dialogue, it’s important to listen to what others have to say as well as offer your own opinion. 

4. Be patient.  See #2 above.  It’s all about long term goals, so even baby steps are good steps. 

One of my favorite quotes is "Don’t do nothing because you can’t do everything. Do something. Anything!"  It’s not exactly the vegan mantra, but I think it’s a more practical approach for those looking to makeover their diet. 

Do you eat like the rest of your family/friends?  If not, are they accepting and respectful of your choices?  Anyone brought about a dietary change in a loved one?  If you have words of wisdom to offer, feel free to comment below. 

Hope that helps!  Now go make these.

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Comments (35)

  1. Cassandra @ She Don't Eat No Meat

    I completely agree with all of this! I’ve been leading by example for a few months (and subtly leaving pro-vegan books around at home) and my mom just told me this weekend that she had talked to her doctor about veganism! 🙂

    Then…the doctor’s response was to tell her that vegans eat too much pasta…sigh.

  2. Barb@ThatWasVegan?

    Great post, and great points. My husband is still technically omni, but he eats vegan ~95% of the time, so I’ve labeled him “Vegan Adjacent” 🙂

    Actually most of the vegans I know (both IRL and online) have a partner who’s omni, which I think is fine, especially when the omni is open minded. I imagine it would be hard to be living with/married to an omni who isn’t happy eating the vegan food cooked for them, though, or insists on separate meals.

  3. Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga

    Awesome post and I concur with so much of what you wrote and what people ask me or write to me asking about.

    Over the past decade plus, Scott went from being 50 lbs overweight and eating 2 bites of iceburg lettuce once a week as his veggie consumption and lots of meat, daily….to now.

    Very little meat, and no red meat usually…just chicken. And tons of veggies and plants every single day. And his blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, etc are 100% under control. The power of plants and of just serving them, in a non-pushy way, has worked wonders for us. (him)

  4. Caity @ Moi Contre La Vie

    Really great topic to address. I’ve found that my colleagues (i.e. people with my same insanely early schedule, long hours, desk jobs…) are incredibly curious about the way I eat. I’ve introduced green monsters, Sun Warrior protein, chia seeds, stevia and a host of other healthy options to my office, all of which people love and started buying/making on their own. I think this has something to do with our communal desire to be as healthy as we can despite hours & hours at a computer each day.

    On the other side, I’ve found the most opposition and “you know you what a bite of my hamburger” from my male friends. Most of my girlfriends are at least vegetarian, or are incredibly supportive of my choices. The guys are the ones who I end up in long debates with over the merits of tofu and the environmental travesties caused by the livestock industry.

    As for my family, my mom has been super supportive over the years (she always ate veggie burgers with me growing up – I went vegetarian at the age of 12 – and has been sending me vegan and gluten-free recipes non-stop for the last few years) and the rest aren’t big cookers and are mostly just curious and confused.

  5. alyssa

    okay so this is what i’d like to know! if you guys had kids, would you raise them vegetarian/vegan? or what since he occasionally eats meat? how would you guys make that decision? or would you see when the time came what felt right? it seems like it would be a hard decision but one that is better to make before there is a kid so you don’t have to raise it a meat eater if the other one would totally disagree with an animal free diet!

  6. Sarah-Mae @ Eat, Run, Knit

    I agree with you, you totally can’t coerce someone into changing their diet, it’s a personal choice that needs to be made for oneself. However, I have found that leading by example and standing strongly in your own beliefs will often lead others down similar paths.

    While I am neither vegan nor vegetarian, I do strive to consume a whole foods diet and keep refined sugars and foods out of the house. The big one for me is ensuring that I consume the “white crack” (flour and sugar) in minimal doses, and only on special occassions – often when someone else has baked something for me. Otherwise I cook with stevia, honey, agave and maple syrup in the house. While I have never forced my hubby to abide by my dietary “rules” he has turned into a label reader!!! He now brings home new products he finds with stevia, shops only organically for vegetables he knows I’ll be eating, etc. He supports my diet and in turn, ends up abiding by my diet while in the household as well – he’s certainly not about to buy FOUR pounds of carrots so he can have non-organic for himself 😉

    Great post 🙂

  7. Casey @ Insatiably Healthy

    There are so many vegetarians that disapprove or preach to meat eaters. I try my best not to be one of those cause, well, who wants to be around someone who constantly criticizes. My friends often forget I’m vego cause I don’t make a big deal of it.
    That being said, if someone asks my opinion or for enlightenment on vegetarianism….my mouth move a mile a minute. 😉

  8. JL goes Vegan

    Yep. To everything. My husband is not even close to vegetarian. Last night he and I had dinner with two friends (vegans). We went to a vegetarian restaurant where the three vegans ate vegan and the meat-eater at vegetarian. We discussed this very thing and I said that coercing someone to eat vegan works about as well as trying to bomb a country into democracy. It doesn’t work that way. I choose to simply be an ambassador of compassion and hope that just living my life can be a positive influence. He certainly eats a higher vegetarian diet when we dine out — and at home. The other night he made us dinner (usually we make our own meals and dine together). Field roast sausages over grilled onion and sauerkraut with big, raw salads. Not bad from a non-vegan guy 😉

  9. Nikki

    I love this post! I cannot wait until my long-term boy and I move in together. I don’t want to force him to eat a certain way, but I feel as though if we live together, he will be more likely to eat the healthier foods I make. I really want to try and rub some healthy habits onto him!

  10. Alex @ Alex Eats Green

    Phenomenal. I have only been a vegetarian for about a year, and try not to force it on people at all. I’ll answer questions when they ask them, and just maintain my own beliefs and food habits around them. My Mom just recently informed me that she and my Dad are going veggie! I couldn’t be prouder. And you’re right, I think all it takes is a little bit of patience.

  11. Anna

    Kyle and I eat alike! I struggle to explain my food eating decisions as I am mostly vegetarian because its healthier for you, its easy, its cheap, and it makes me feel good. I do eat seafood though and I do eat meat every once in awhile (like holidays or the wedding I went to with no vegetarian options). I think my family sometimes feel judged now when they eat meat, which I hate, because there is no judgement on my part! Glad there is someone out there who eats like me though!

  12. Lee

    My husband comes from a small town where his family ate the SAD including a lot of fast food.

    While his eating habits have definitely changed since he met me (5 years ago), old habits do die hard for him and he still gets fast food from time to time. That said, he will always eat a vegetarian dinner if I prepare one and is a huge fan of hummus now.

  13. Sarah

    Great post! I wrote about this awhile back too, since I am also married to an omnivore, who mostly eats plant-based. It’s so easy to get caught up in this lifestyle, and I think we need to remember that people are more than what they eat. #1 on your list is one I have to remind myself of some days!

  14. Lou

    Great post/ideas…. My partner was a vego for 10 years (before we met, boo!) SO he does enjoy my cooking, especially tofu, but he loves meat nowadays (boo) I still cook mainly vegan meals but do include good quality organic meat from happy animals a few nights a week for him and my son.

    Labels suck – it’s a tricky business putting diet in a pigeon hole. I’ve just gone full vegan (wow, full vegan you say? hard core!) Basically I have stopped eating yoghurt, honey and salmon which was my triangle of deliciousness keeping me from full veganism. My family thinks I’m a freak. Oh well.

  15. Deanna @ cookingquinoaintheutilityroom

    Hey, hippie. I remember reading your blog a while back about how you were bummed that your soy nog didn’t make you feel that great. Welll, the other day I (accidentally) made vegan egg nog w/o soy and I thought I’d share it with you. -> http://cookingquinoaintheutilityroom.wordpress.com/2011/12/14/accidental-vegan-egg-nog/ If you can tolerate coconut milk, then I recommend you try this / play along with the recipe 🙂

  16. Marc

    It’s important to underline the word respect here… and to remember what works for you doesn’t necessarily work for other people.

  17. Tt in nyc

    I have been vegetarian for more than two decades and vegan inthe past few, and i have always held my ground while not judging others. In my past relationship i would often cook and my omni (ex) knew that if he wanted to eat what i cooked it would be veg, and if he wanted meat then he would have to figure that out for himself. My only rules were i dont touch/cook your meat for you- and, hahaha you wouldnt want me to! I dunno what im doing!- and that there was no bacon making when i was home since the smell makes me want to toss my cookies. But this is such a personal decision that simply cannot be made for your partner. Kinda like not expecting him to convert you to a meat eater we veggies just need to share the positive and quietly share amazing foods we enjoy…..

  18. BroccoliHut

    Seth is not a vegan or vegetarian either, but I am lucky to have a partner who is an avid tofu lover! It makes cooking dinner so much easier.

  19. Elise (Post author)

    Thank you so much!!

  20. Elaine

    this has nothing to do with really with your post, but in that pic of your hubby in the kitchen – that’s exactly how i stand when i’m in the kitchen or charting at a bedside computer (COW)! i don’t really see too many people stand like that so…yeah random 🙂

  21. Emily

    I love this post so much.
    Obviously I’m not married, but anytime I’m dating anyone I’m sure to make it VERY clear that I respect whatever eating habits they choose. I’m not going to preach to anyone about whether or not they should eat animal products because it’s a completely personal choice. What works for me definitely doesn’t work for everyone!
    When I became a vegetarian at 13 years old, my parents decided to stop eating meat as well. It made it much easier. They aren’t vegan, but having a mom that cooked meatless meals was always so nice. My sister is a HUGE meat-lover though. It’s an ongoing joke in our family- she’s the black sheep. 🙂

  22. Sarah

    I completely agree about letting people come to their own decisions, and providing them with information if they are open to it (in a non-preachy way).

    It’s amazing to me how often people assume that one person in a relationship is ‘behind’ the other person’s big personal decisions, especially veganism or vegetarianism. My husband was vegetarian when I met him (though for completely bizarre reasons), but I am flabbergasted by the fact that everyone I meat automatically assumes he’s veg because of me. They take it as a given.

    I used to be puzzled by how many women sought advice on ‘turning their partner veg*n’ because I didn’t understand why they would want to if their partner didn’t feel compelled to do so. I understand it better now, but I still think it’s important to recognise that even if your dietary preferences align, that doesn’t mean your motivations for those preferences will align as well, and that can be its own challenge. No matter what, there’s going to be some level of accommodation, whether big or small, in a relationship.

  23. Wendy (Healthy Girl's Kitchen)

    What a dead-on post. I also get asked all of the time if my husband eats the same way that I do. I also get asked if my kids eat this way. The same advice applies to everyone in the household–people have to choose this for themselves. All we can do provide delicious vegan food and radiate good health. If those we love don’t buy in 100%, it’s out of our control.

    I am a firm believer in the stance that I take on this–if someone doesn’t do the cooking, they should eat what is placed in front of them and not make a peep. It irks me when people feel they have to make non-vegan food for their non-cook spouses. My husband is happy to eat whatever I put in front of him because he has zero interest in cooking. Luckily he’s married to a person who cares deeply about eating healthfully and he has benefitted tremendously from it.

  24. greenthyme

    This is a cute post. Good for him! I agree with everybody having to do what’s right for them. Pressure certainly doesn’t work. It’s great that you have such an open attitude about things, it looks like it’s certainly worked in your favor.

  25. chelsey @ clean eating chelsey

    This is a great post – why have I never thought about it before? I would say at least twice per week someone asks me the very same question!!

  26. Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli

    I think leading by example is the ONLY way to bring about changes in people when it comes to their food choices. I get a lot of flack for not eating much meat from my co-workers and my dad (go figure, they’re all males), but I’ve noticed subtle changes in my mom’s and my sister’s diets and I actually have gotten a friend of mine started on overnight oats! And too funny, I was actually talking to my mom on the phone today and she said, “Yeah, you’ve got Tori (sister) putting peanut butter on her pancakes…waffles…French toast…everything these days!” Hahaha! LOVE it!

  27. Elise (Post author)

    kyle and i are on the same page, so thats what matters most.
    i guess we will see when the time comes with a kiddo, huh?

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  29. Gena

    Great post. I think that “coercing vs. compelling” is such a brilliant distinction, and you articulate the ways you can inspire a spouse without forcing rhetoric on them beautifully.

  30. Z.Grimm

    I’m not interested in making my omnivore boyfriend into a vegetarian. He’s happy that way, and if he’s ready to make that kind of change, I’ll fully support him. I’m just looking for more compromise from him when it comes to my own diet. He doesn’t like the idea of us eating different things at dinner time (our one meal together). Hopefully I can convince him at some point to come to some kind of balance between us, but until then, I’ll just do my best to eat the best way I can.

  31. Lisa F

    This is a GREAT article, I’m so glad I stumbled on it!

    My husband is not vegan, he literally will eat anything, but he has never once judged me for my choices. Why would I dream of judging him? We make our different choices work because we respect each other. And in many ways, I think he has come to embrace the challenge of taking me out to dinner to see what will happen. I’ve had great experiences in that realm, but our home cooking is where it’s really at. Because I am the one that does most of the cooking, he’ll eat whatever it is I make. When we first met, he was eating way more meat & seafood, but as the years have gone by, he has become very curious about the vegan meals I make and even requests certain items now!

    It truly is about respect for one another, but let’s face it: if the respect wasn’t there in the first place, why bother marrying that person? Seems silly to say, but respect for ones food choices is just a small barometer of the level of respect in the overall relationship.

  32. Elise (Post author)

    good point. it seems common sense, but some people forget that food choices can be an important part of a person’s identity. either way, im glad you and your husband have a working system that you both enjoy 🙂

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  34. Katie

    I don’t know how I missed this post, but I LOVE it! I couldn’t agree more – while my meat-loving man hasn’t given up meat (by any means) he DOES love vegetables now and I can only attribute that to me jam packing the house with as many vegetable-based foods as possible and then letting him decide what to do from here. 🙂

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